In Miami, from July 12 through 14, Zero Hour’s first Youth Climate Summit will get underway. Never heard of Zero Hour? You will. Jamie Maroglin, then a 16-year-old on a mission to hold elected officials accountable for climate change and its impact, spawned the organization in 2017. Since then, Zero Hour has been gaining steam.
Last July 19 through 21, Zero Hour and 100 youth delivered demands to Capitol Hill regarding a No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, hosted a climate change art festival and marched on the National Mall to “advocate for their rights to a safe and livable future.”
Fast forward to 2019 and this week’s youth summit. A lot has happened over the past year for Zero Hour.
In the days leading up to Friday’s summit, Parentology will be profiling several of Zero Hour’s founding members. In the spotlight today: Elsa Mengistu. The 17-year-old from High Point, North Carolina is Zero Hour’s operations logistics director. She filled us in on how she got involved with Zero Hour and raised our awareness at the same time.
And now, here’s Elsa Mengistu.
How did you become involved in Zero Hour?
I was scrolling on Facebook and this guy from my community had posted about Zero Hour. I went to your page and was blown away – they’re 100% youth led and focused on how social inequity has caused climate change, something I haven’t seen many organizations talk about. They had good branding, clear messaging and were obviously on top of their game. I immediately wanted to be part of it.
Had you already been advocating for climate control?
I’d been dedicating my time to racial justice, gender equity and immigrant rights. Through Zero Hour, I was able to really find a space where I could connect all of those issues into one larger one, being climate change.
How has Zero Hour evolved since last year’s march?
Before the march, our focus was to change the national convocation around climate change, instill a national urgency and addressing the social inequity that led us to this point.
We left a space for the dominoes to start falling, which they did. Greta Thunberg, who was inspired by the march, started striking in Sweden. Then other people inspired by her started striking over across the world, including Alexandria Villaseñor striking in New York City as part of Zero Hour New York’s New York Chapter. Now there are four, competing youth climate spaces in the United States.
As for Zero Hour, we’re planning major campaigns and actions and leading a sustainable organization to do this work long term. It will be a resource hub for other activists wanting entry points to their activism organizing.
What are you hoping to see come out of this week’s conference?
I’m excited to share knowledge that’s so needed. Though there’s a science fair portion with a workshop, we won’t necessarily focus simply on the science behind climate change and how we got to this point. Much of the summit is focused on how random issues are interlinked with climate change. So I’m excited people will come away having a deeper understanding of climate change and how it impacts every single aspect of our lives. I’m hoping the summit
What would you want the world to know about climate change?
I’d like people to recognize climate change is bigger than they realize. It’s not just the atmosphere changing, the oceans acidifying and ecosystems being deplenished, it’s a social extinction. Climate change links to migration, gun violence, and how humans treat one over. If we survive climate change, we may not survive humanity afterward.
And what kind of action do you want people to take?
Every single action they can. If you can strike, strike. If you have the power and privilege to vote, vote. If you can block a pipeline, block a pipeline. If you can do social media campaigns and engage thousands of people, do that. Do whatever is in your capacity, but do something.
To learn more about Zero Hour visit http://thisiszerohour.org.