the original climate activist
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Photo by Pamela Ea
Photo by Pamela Ea
Photo by Pamela Ea
Photo by Pamela Ea
Photo by Pamela Ea
Photo by Pamela Ea
Find on Amazon: Click HERE
By Randy Gold
GLT: Hello Jamie, and thank you for joining us for this issue of Global Leader Today. It has been great to follow your journey online, and to see your book “Youth to Power.” Thank you for agreeing to meet with us and for giving us a few minutes to talk about things that truly matter.
JAMIE: Thank you so much.
GLT: The world at large first learned about you through your activities surrounding climate action. For those who are not familiar with your early work, can you tell us what led you to step up and take on such a tremendous cause?
JAMIE: What led me was, honestly, my deep care for the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Northwest, I feel like it, along with my parents obviously, like it raised me. I always go to the ocean as much as I can. I always look at the trees and spend as much time in nature as I can. It’s been like that ever since I was a little girl and so learning about the destruction of the environment… and nature, I always felt sort of a connection to it ever since I was little and so learning about the destruction of everything, of humanity, of nature, of society, which is really what the climate crisis is, I knew that I had to take action. My first attempt at taking action was in second grade. I tried to start a Green Club at my school. It didn’t work out. I was in second grade and I had no follow-through, so it just didn’t happen. Then, when I was fourteen-years-old, I got involved with the 2016 election and that’s really how I started my activism journey for real. I was an intern at my local Democratic campaign headquarters and I was translating things [because I was the only Spanish speaker in the office]. I was training volunteers, I was getting out the vote, I was calling people doing phone-banking, door knocking, all of the stuff, and I was super involved and super devoted to preventing the election of Trump but it didn’t make a huge difference and you know how that turned out. I was really, really defeated and depressed after that for awhile, but then I decided to take action through my work directly for the environment. I said okay, let’s take a step back from electoral politics and really think about the crisis at large. So, I got involved with a local climate justice organization in my community called “Plant-for-the-Planet” and I started to do more and more work with them. I was just doing so much work locally in my community in Seattle for so long and I wasn’t really seeing any change happen. Before this, I was very naïve. I lived under the illusion that if you were a Democrat it meant you would take action. Like oh, if you say that you are for climate action, it means you are going to do it. Nope. Not the case. So, I was just running into a lot of people who were saying all the right things but then not actually doing the right things. That was growing increasingly frustrating. I decided that I was going to start a youth climate mobilization. After the Women’s march and after seeing the documentary “…AWAKE - A Dream From Standing Rock” and all the great work people of all ages at Standing Rock are doing protecting the water from the North Dakota Access Pipeline and standing up for their communities, I was really inspired by the power of mass mobilization. So, I posted online that I was going to start a youth climate march… this was the summer of 2017… I asked “who’s with me?” I got responses from and recruited other young people and adults who wanted to be a part of this and that became Zero Hour, the movement that is with us to this day and we’ve been organizing, marching and fighting for climate justice ever since.
GLT: In the early days, as you became active, what did you see as the immediate challenges before you and how did you plan to take them on?
JAMIE: My life philosophy has always been: just keep swimming. In “Finding Nemo,” when Dory, the fish, she always says, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Essentially, just keep moving forward, no matter what and so that’s really the way I approached all of the challenges ‘cause I faced so many different types of challenges throughout this journey that if I went through every single one I’d be here all day, so perseverance is the main thing.
GLT: What do you feel was your first real breakthrough?
JAMIE: I think the youth climate marches and really mobilizing people in 2018 for climate justice in a really big way, that helped spark a lot of action worldwide. It laid the groundwork for the FridaysForFuture movement and was a precursor to that. I think that was like really incredible impact that was made.
GLT: For mobilizing the huge crowds to join you in this fight. How did you get the word out?
JAMIE: A lot of different ways. Through organizations, through online campaigns, through word-of-mouth, through flyering, through emails, through phone calls, through social media. Basically, every single possible way about getting the word out about something.
GLT: Were you surprised by the response you got of so many others stepping forward?
JAMIE: No, I wasn’t because I know that the outrage and the fear and the climate anxiety that everyone lives with and what it’s like growing up at the end of the world, so I completely expected that.
GLT: The United States has rejoined the Paris Climate Accords. Apart from that, how do you feel we are doing globally? Are we moving forward?
JAMIE: No, not even close. We are actually moving in the opposite direction that we need to be moving in. Because of especially something called “Fossil Fuel Subsidies,” governments are putting trillions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry and actively investing in our own destruction. They’re actively making the climate crisis worse, actively investing in ending life on Earth. One of the biggest myths is that governments are inactive on the climate crisis. That’s not true. Governments are very active on the climate crisis. They’re actively worsening it in every possible way. You know, we would be in a lot better position if governments weren’t doing anything about climate change. That would be way better than what we are doing now which is actively making it worse for ourselves. Every minute, eleven million dollars go into the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. So, every single minute that I’m talking to you that’s eleven million dollars, eleven million dollars, investing from our government into the fossil fuel industry which really shows you that we’re moving in the opposite direction from where we need to be.
GLT: We just had the COP26 Climate Conference. What are your thoughts about that?
JAMIE: I think that they did not do what they needed to do. We can’t just have endless talk where we do photo ops and like: look at us, we’re taking climate action. Where is the actual action? Where are the actual commitments and where is the actual follow-up? Actually sticking to the science. We don’t get to invent numbers like “net zero.” Net zero is b.s. Think of it like this: Net zero and carbon offset and all of these things that are ways to get us to just keep polluting are ridiculous. This idea that we can keep polluting and somehow measure exactly and we’re gonna offset this and we’re just going to keep polluting and keep making the problem worse and that’s going to somehow make things better… it’s just so untrue and so I really think that our leaders have absolutely failed us.
GLT: Is Zero Hour working with Greta Thunberg directly, or are you each doing things separately?
JAMIE: Kind of separately. We worked with her directly before, like she spoke at our climate summit, we’ve done actions together, but it’s more of like, we’re not constantly working together. It’s more of like a big day of action for a specific thing will come up and then we’ll work together on that, but specifically just like separately and in solidarity.
GLT: How do you feel about the recent successes of Tesla and the move by so many others towards electric vehicles? What are your thoughts about that?
JAMIE: I think that the goals to that is that everyone will go out and buy a bunch of electric vehicles, but we have to understand that the number one thing we should be doing as individuals is consuming less, so it’s not like throw out your perfectly good car and get an electric vehicle because it’s eco-friendly because the energy that went into making that new car is a lot more than you saving, and then the electricity has to come from renewable energy. It can’t come from coal, oil, natural gas. I think like these individual actions and our technology, they have to be a part of a larger change because they themselves can’t solve it all.
GLT: Are you familiar with the XPRIZE and Elon Musk’s Carbon Removal Project? How do you feel about what they are doing there in taking action to remove CO2 from the atmosphere?
JAMIE: There is this really cool technology that takes carbon out of the air: trees, and forests and I feel like we need to be focusing on protecting and especially standing behind the protectors of the Amazon rain forest. The indigenous people protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity. We need to be standing behind the indigenous communities, standing behind protectors of the Amazon rainforest and natural places all over the world because those are affecting carbon. Elon Musk doesn’t have to invent some sort of weird, fancy carbon sucking thing. That’s a tree. That’s literally how plants work. That’s photosynthesis, so let’s stop killing our own solutions and protect the forest.
GLT: Of all the social media and communications platforms today, what do you feel are the most effective tools for getting the word out and communicating with your global team?
JAMIE: You can use whatever digital platform. You can use social media or you can use Slack or email or Zoom. Any sort of way that you can digitally communicate. It really just depends on what works best for those individuals.
GLT: So, you’ve entered the world of filmmaking. Do you see this as related to your activism?
JAMIE: Absolutely. My passion is in narrative fiction, so not necessarily through like literal “this is the policy that I’m advocating for” but more so helping to communicate different sentiments and emotions and information and knowledge about different aspects of the movement or the environment or change that I want to see in the world. I want to communicate those stories because that’s who I am, a story teller, so definitely filmmaking is how I am moving forward, with how I am interacting with the movement going forward, that’s what I am moving into with my life is just really focusing on being a filmmaker and using that to help everything I want to help.
GLT: Belated happy birthday to you. Do you mind if we embed your short film “Growing Up At The End of the World” along with this article?
JAMIE: Absolutely! Embed it. I made it so that it would be shared because that really communicated a lot of things that I’ve got on my mind and so yeah, absolutely, you can embed it.
GLT: For all the young people around the world, especially to our readers in the developing countries, what would you like to say to them about pursuing things that matter to them?
JAMIE: To them I would say about pursuing the things that matter to them: do it with balance and do it with intention. Make sure that you are always taking care of yourself every step of the way and making sure that you’re setting an intention of what you want to do and moving forward with that and really being clear with what it is you want to do and following what makes you happy and protecting your joy at all costs and making sure that whatever you’re doing you’re protecting your joy, you’re protecting your health, because this world is… you know, there’s a lot out there, and it’s very easy to get drained, discouraged, hurt, all of the above. All of the above has happened to me, so I just really encourage young people to take care of themselves and to protect their joy in what they pursue.
GLT: Since you published “Youth to Power,” what new things have you learned that you’d like to add if you could add just one more chapter?
JAMIE: That’s a good question. I’m trying to think about just narrowing it down to just one. I’ve become a different person honestly since that book was published. Just kind of about transitioning out of the obsession with youth and age. As we get older and understanding, taking your work into the adult world and taking over… I kind of touched upon it, but I didn’t really dive into it because I hadn’t even reached that part of my life yet, but essentially, growing out of it and growing into just being an organizer and an activist into the rest of your life. You either age or you die. You’re not going to be a youth forever. Your life and the way that people look at you isn’t going to be defined by your youth forever and it can be unhealthy to stay in that. It can be honestly kind of aggravating when I see people, who are really not youth, they’re like late twenties and they’re being like “I’m young, I’m a youth” and yes, you’re a young person, but you’re not a teenager, like we see take up those spaces essentially because it’s just so commodified almost. People are clinging to youth. And just learning that age isn’t everything. It’s called “Youth to Power” because that’s the name that I came up with at the time, but it’s really just more about the advice in there about how to take action. I think I would just, in general, make everything less focused on age, because that is temporary. Everyone either ages or dies, so there’s no forever youth. Centering everything around age is centering something around something that’s inherently temporary. So, kind of moving and learning how to grow out of that in a healthy way.
GLT: Thank you, Jamie, for taking time today to speak with us and our readers. For those who want to follow your journeys into film, where can they find your work?
JAMIE: They can find me on YouTube. My channel is just Jamie Margolin and that’s where I’m posting a lot of my short films and then also on my social media under my name Jamie Margolin. I’ll post there announcements when my films are coming out in different places. You can also subscribe to Art Majors Show which is a web series that I made and Lavender You which is a podcast that I have.
GLT: Again, thank you and you take care.
JAMIE: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
To follow Jamie Margolin online, visit:
YouTube: Click HERE
Lavender You: Click HERE
This is Zero Hour: http://thisiszerohour.org/
Art Majors Show: Click HERE