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Ready to enlist in a large-scale Civilian Climate Corps | READER COMMENTARY

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and U.s. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) talk as they arrive for a discussion about the potential benefits of a Civilian Climate Corps, at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and U.s. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) talk as they arrive for a discussion about the potential benefits of a Civilian Climate Corps, at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

On June 28, I was one of over 500 young people from all across the country who marched to the White House. Chanting, singing and brandishing banners, we demanded a fully funded, justice-rooted Civilian Climate Corps in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package of the scale proposed by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey. For the first time since the pandemic started, I felt hope for my future (”Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps,” July 20).

I’m turning 18 this year and part of a generation anguished about prospects beyond high school. We face employment with dwindling union support, limited access to higher education and a world that is literally burning. The climate crisis is all-encompassing and overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine a future with extreme storms devastating buildings and shorelines, cities submerged, millions of people withering in record-setting temperatures every single year and up to half of all species extinct.

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My generation deserves a better future. We need good jobs. We need a livable planet. A fully funded Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) that provides millions of green jobs, such as the one proposed in Senator Markey’s CCC for Jobs and Justice Act, would help achieve both. This idea hearkens back to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a highly successful New Deal program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt which, over seven years, hired 3 million people to build infrastructure, restore forests and establish parks.

President Biden’s infrastructure bill calls for the establishment of a CCC, but it must be more ambitious in scale. With its budget falling short by billions of dollars, the president’s CCC can employ only a fraction of the workers needed. This doesn’t meet the enormity of our national and global crisis. He must incorporate Senator Markey’s bold plan calling for 1.5 million jobs over five years, ensure that the CCC employs employ historically underserved populations, focuses half of its projects in front line areas and provides health care and the right to unionize for all workers. The Civilian Climate Corps must have the necessary resources to protect communities from climate disasters, restore ecosystems and train workers for green jobs.

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This is no time for half measures. We need an ambitious CCC that fits the scale of the employment and climate crises before us.

Alex Norbrook, Pikesville

The writer is a student at The Park School (Class of 2022).

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