My name is Jamie Margolin, and I’m a 15-year-old climate justice ambassador with Plant for the Planet, a member of the Seattle People’s Climate Movement, and co-founder of Future Voters for 350 parts per million, a budding Teen environmental action network linked to Plant for the Planet. I’ve spent the majority of 2017 lobbying legislators in Olympia, speaking up at congressional town halls, including Congresswoman Jayapal’s very first town hall as a congresswoman, and organizing, planning, marching, and resisting my heart out.
Like many of you, Election night left me brokenhearted, confused, grief stricken and terrified.
I knew pretty much everything I cared about would now be under attack with a Trump presidency, but I decided to focus my resistance on what I believe is the most important and defining issue of our time: Environmental destruction and climate change.
Because honestly, what will anything else matter when we don’t have clean air to breath or potable water to drink?
So I joined Plant 4 the Planet, an international youth environmental nonprofit, and I got right to work, running around Olympia lobbying and meeting with representatives, testifying at 2 bill hearings before the environmental committee, and giving presentations on climate change.
It was with plant for the planet that I learned how climate change is not this far-off issue that can keep being put off, rather, something that is right here, right now, and is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced and the defining issue of our time.
And later, during my work with the People’s Climate Movement , I learned about the intersectionality of the climate crisis, and how climate change effects other issues and causes we care about. For example, if you care about civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, here’s a connection climate change has to systematic racism. Nationally 68% of the Black population lives within 30 miles of a coal plant, are generally more likely to live in polluted areas and have shorter life spans than Caucasians.
Every issue, whether it’s poverty, public health, racism, or gender inequality, is worsened by climate change. Environmental issues are not separate from human rights issues at all. Having carbon levels in the air that increase childhood asthma and cancer levels is a violation of human rights.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that if there is one message that echoes forth from this rally, let it be that Environmental rights are human rights, and human rights are environmental rights, once and for all!
Failing to address the issue properly is a crime against all young people (my generation) and future generations.
We young people didn’t ask for any of this. We didn’t ask for or have any say in climate change, we didn’t ask for Trump –we have no vote– and yet we will pay the biggest price for his environmental recklessness, like his proposed budget. Trump’s proposed budget will slash the EPA’s budget in the Puget Sound by 93 percent and cut 3,000 jobs, many of which, are focused on restoring the Puget Sound, our home.
But we are not just going to stand by and let this happen, are we?
Actually, young people have already been on the front lines of environmental resistance. Youth plaintiffs all over the country have been suing their governments over this crime, slashing the myth that you have to be an adult to contribute to society, and participate in the resistance.
Now why do I keep saying, crime? Well, it’s right in the constitution, that everyone has the inalienable right to life. It’s the most basic right we could ask for. But Climate change and environmental destruction are threatening those basic inalienable rights.
The government has known for decades that climate change would threaten the lives of young generation, but they allowed companies to pollute and the problem to worsen anyway.
So 21 youth plaintiffs from all over the country are suing the federal government over this denial of constitutional rights.
And there are state cases all over the country as well, including here in Washington, where plant for the planet kids are suing the state over refusing to pass science-based climate laws. (By the way, the organization behind all these historic youth vs government lawsuits is Our Children’s Trust, so I’d google them after this event.)
Now here are a few quick numbers.
Pre-industrial, natural levels of carbon in the air were 280 parts per million. Today, we’re at 405 parts per million. The level scientists say we need to get down to if we want to preserve life as we know it- and this level is a maximum- is 350 parts per million.
But most bills in the Washington state legislature, like House Bill 1646, a carbon tax, which 350 Seattle and Plant 4 the planet is lobbying to amend, and we hope you will join our efforts, aims to allow carbon levels to rise to 450 parts per million. That’s not a solution! At 450 parts per million, the city of Seattle would be under water.
Solving the climate crisis is not something we should maybe get around to sometime in the future, it is your constitutional obligation NOW, to ensure my generation has our most basic right to live.
And starting right now, you can defend our rights. Because no matter what Trump does, here at home, we still treasure our natural resources and value our water and air. Everyone here should pledge to talk to our neighbors about the importance of investing in our environment – not slashing it! And that should only be the beginning!
Get involved with organizations if you have the time, (Future Voters and Plant for the Planet is always in need of help), or get involved making sure public officials who are climate champions get and stay elected, like our beloved congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal! Plant trees, call your state and federal representatives about how much you care about the environment and your kids futures, they need to hear from you! A call only takes a few minutes, but it can really make a difference.
Because everything we love is on the line right now, and we will need every bit of help from people of all walks of life joining in this effort.
Finally, I think the most important part of environmental advocacy, is to remember that we’re not just trying to prevent catastrophe, but build and create a more peaceful and better world.
So let’s root our resistance, and start building that better world right here at home!