Youth activists concerned about climate change are gearing up for protest marches worldwide this weekend. On Saturday, for the second year running, they’ll take part in an event called The Zero Hour that was conceived by a young woman from Seattle.
Jaime Margonlin, a student at Seattle’s Holy Names Academy, was inspired by the women’s marches around the country and wanted to do something similar for climate. She’s in D.C. for the main march this year. But the movement she started is growing.
Maya Frame, another 16-year-old, from Kent, says she joined in just three weeks ago because she cares deeply about the environment. She says she believes hers is the first generation to really see the effects of climate change and may be the last that is able to take action that will address it in a meaningful way.
“And so, it’s really important for youth to get involved. Because I feel like, at this time, a lot of adults don’t seem to take it seriously or they don’t understand the impacts of it,” Frame said.
There are about three dozen sister marches taking place around the globe, including two in Washington state cities: Seattle and Olympia.
Lacy Nadeau, 13, organized Olympia’s sister march, a first this year. She says it’s frustrating not being able to vote and not being taken seriously by adults because she is serious.
“We need to take action now. If we don’t do anything, then we won’t have a future,” Nadeau said.
A “lobby day” also took place Thursday, in which the youth in this movement met with politicians to demand an end to business as usual on climate change.
Caroline Heege, 12, is one of the organizers of this year’s Seattle march. Speaking Thursday at a press conference at City Hall, she expressed her delight to get a signed pledge from Port Commissioner Fred Felleman that he won’t take campaign contributions from fossil fuel industries.
“The lobby day is where you’re actually going in and you’re talking to your leaders and you’re telling them this stuff. You’re telling them your stories. You’re telling them why you think this is important. The march is important too, but it’s not as direct of an action,” Heege said.
The youth said they’re pursuing other issues with Seattle politicians as well. Those include expanding the free bus pass program to all transit for all youth and converting more mass transit to renewable fuels.
Zero Hour’s platform emphasizes environmental justice as social justice and aims to give voice to those who are most impacted by climate change by demanding government action.
The climate march and movement is called “The Zero Hour” because the organizers say now is the time to act on climate change, before it’s too late.
Seattle’s Zero Hour events start with a rally Saturday at 9 a.m. at Garfield Community Center playfield. Olympia’s is at 11 a.m. at Heritage Park.