Zero Hour’s first Youth Climate Summit will take place in Miami from July 12 through 14. The organization is the brainchild of Jamie Margolin, who was inspired to start holding elected officials accountable for climate change and its impact at the age of 16. Zero Hour was established in 2017, and has been growing steadily since its inception.
Last July, Zero Hour marched on the National Mall to “advocate for their rights to a safe and livable future.” They delivered their demands to Capitol Hill regarding a No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge and hosted a climate change art festival. This July, they’ll host their first youth summit in Florida.
In the days leading up to Friday’s summit, Parentology will be profiling several of Zero Hour’s founding members. In the spotlight today: Arielle Martinez Cohen. The 17-year-old was inspired to fight climate change after witnessing what the humanitarian crisis that will follow in its wake looks like.
The California native tells Parentology how the wildfires that plague her state every year — and the local inmates who fight them for little to no pay — inspired her to begin speaking out on topics like climate refugees, animal rights and the environmental impact of our diets. We caught up with her as she took a break from summit planning in Florida.
As for what’s on the horizon for her, Cohen hopes to pursue a mixed major focusing on music, communications and environmental science at Brown University in the fall.
How did you get involved with Zero Hour?
A little over a year ago, I saw an article Jamie [Margolin] wrote for CNN calling out elected officials for doing nothing on climate change. I decided to organize a climate march in Los Angeles. I’m also a singer/songwriter and had written a song based on the idea that time is ticking away as it does on the Doomsday Clock at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Zero Hour team really liked it, so they made it the official song of the movement. Then, I joined them in D.C. for the National Youth Climate March. From there I joined their national organizing [committee], and now I’m here helping organize the summit.
What does your role as Zero Hour’s Los Angeles Partnership Director entail?
As partnership directors, we manage over 300 different partnerships, which means we talk to different nonprofit organizations and companies interested in sponsoring us. We have over 200 partnerships for the summit, many of which are hosting workshops on different things like social media training and leadership training. Additionally, a few sponsors will have some of their members taking part in panels and helping us promote the summit and outreach, so it encompasses coordinating all of that.
What’s your main goal of working with Zero Hour?
To create a safe space for youth of color to be able to build up their organizational skills to contribute to the movement, which I think is also the goal of the overall summit, as well. To make sure people know about climate justice. People of color are being affected most by climate change, they should have an opportunity to lift up their voices.
Your generation seems to be leading the fight against climate change, why
It has a lot to do with different scientific reports coming out and how scary they are. One from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives us only 11 years [to change the course of climate change]. Another report done by the Australian government said the entire human race has a threat of extinction by the year 2050. I think this generation is growing up with these reports.
What advice would you give others looking to get involved?
Do research — get up-to-date on the science of climate change and things like oil drilling and fracking. Look into local climate groups. If you want to get involved
To learn more about Zero Hour, visit http://thisiszerohour.org.