In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps. Over nine years the CCC employed 3 million men giving relief to the unemployed during the Great Depression. They created 700 new state parks and planted 3.5 billion trees on land destroyed by fires, clear cutting and did a lot more. We still benefit from much of what they accomplished.
Currently, I am enjoying a cabin in the Ozarks built by the CCC. I have walked the trails they cut here and those at home at Devil’s Lake State Park. They created a ninety-year legacy that still gives to us.
In sharp contrast an international gathering of world leaders is wrapping up its 26th yearly meeting. These gatherings were created to keep the planet safe from human mismanagement. But far from the visionary and swift action taken by those who implemented the CCC, the COP meetings have yielded little in the way of legacy. Instead we are told that military emissions should be exempt from national emissions scrutiny. And the meetings have remained elite and aloof to people – primarily indigenous – already suffering the effects of climate change. There are more oil reps in the COP meetings than people who are losing homelands and livelihoods due to our reluctance to change.
The failure to listen to indigenous people has driven us here. The concept “to the conqueror goes the spoils” must end. For those who say, “It’s too late.” You are also not listening. Yes, it will take a mammoth effort to end the use of fossil fuels, but it can be done. One step. Take one step to reduce consumption and take the larger step to demand that leadership reverses course.
We can and we must.