VIDEO: Shoulders of Giants: Jamie Margolin and Rachel Carson

Shoulders of Giants:
Jamie Margolin and Rachel Carson,
A Legacy of Environmentalism

We’ve seen an increased number of marches, rallies, and civic action.

This Is Zero Hour, a pro-environment movement, led by 16-year-old Jamie Margolin, stood out as one of two major marches on Capitol Hill led by youth. Margolin and her co-founders, Nadia, Madelaine, and Zanadee are dedicated to climate justice and protecting the Earth.

Before Margolin, there was Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, conservationist, and award-winning author.


In the 1940s, Carson was concerned with the use of synthetic pesticides that had been developed by the military. One, DDT, was used to control malaria and was widely used. It also harmed animals and is linked to cancer in people, and is classified as toxic and hazardous by the US and the World Health Org.

Along with Jamie, 13 young people suing the government for not sufficiently addressing climate change. Margolin has long been involved in youth environmental groups. She wanted to make a national impact- especially after the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Statistically, young women of color are the most likely to be harmed by climate change. Her mother’s family, in Colombia, live near fracking sites and worry about drinking unsafe water.

Margolin chose the name Zero Hour to highlight the sense of urgency climate change demands. Scientists agree that the world is nearly at tipping points and our actions will have long-lasting effects on the planet. Politicians don’t necessarily agree, and many take money from fossil fuel companies, meaning they support oil and gas, rather than investment into green and clean energy.

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Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was published in 1962. It showed how harmful pesticides like DDT were to people and the planet. Carson accused the chemical companies of spreading misinformation, and blamed public officials for accepting this bad information.

The chemical companies were vehemently opposed to Silent Spring; her published feared lawsuits. Carson withstood personal attacks despite undergoing cancer treatment. However, serialized versions were published, allowing her message to spread.

As a teen, Margolin feels she and her peers are inheriting a mess that they did not create. Margolin and Zero Hero co-founders hosted a march- with some help from women’s march and noDAPL mentors- in the pouring rain on July 21, in Washington DC. The weekend included community arts projects and a lobby day. Sister marches took place across the US. Margolin calls climate change the defining issue of her generation.

Margolin faces online harassment from adults and noncommittal elected officials- not to mention juggling a normal high school life.

Silent Spring became a pillar of the 1960s environmental movement, which led to a successful campaign to ban DDT and the creation of the EPA in the 1970s. Silent Spring is listed as one of the best science books of the 20th century. David Attenborough (Planet Earth) stated the Silent Spring changed the scientific world. Her legacy implores people to understand the environmental consequences of our actions.

Margolin wants to create a movement, rather than a moment. Margolin takes climate disasters as evidence that its time to act. She does not want to inherit an “unlivable planet.” ZeroHour wants to build an intersectional movement for environmental justice.

Margolin won’t give up and is active in creating political change, although she cannot yet vote.

“Maybe you’ll listen to the cries of your children. The youth are watching.”

Before it was Zero Hour, there was Silent Spring. Rachel Carson’s research led to long-lasting environmental, grassroots movements, such as This is Zero Hour. Jamie Margolin stands on the shoulders of giants, and she will not be silent.


Photos from ThisisZeroHour Instagram, Wikimedia Commons

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