By Jess Taylor
California has once again faced another wildfire season. According to H.D. Palmer, Deputy Director of the State Department of Finance, the wildfires have so far cost the state $841.1 million, in September 2021.
Recently, Governor Newsom announced a $15 billion investment in climate resilience. This will involve targeting the reduction of wildfire risk and improving the health of forests and wildlands. As a result, as the stipend for fellows increases this fall, more jobs will be created in the state.
Jessica Morse, Deputy Secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency said, “California’s unprecedented $1.5 billion investment in wildfire resilience will surge California’s capacity to keep communities and ecologies safe in the age of mega-fires.”
Earlier this summer, Presiden Biden met with west coast governors to discuss wildfires. He believes the way to tackle this malicious natural disaster goes beyond funding aerial firefighters and improved forest management; it requires one of the leading climate provisions planned in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill, the Civilian Climate Corps.
The Civilian Climate Corps is inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who initiated it from 1933 to 1942 to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. The program gave people short-term jobs or training programs that focused on renewable technology and building resilience against climate change. Roughly 3 million men went to work focused on conserving and developing natural resources in rural areas.
As nearly 80 years have passed since the original Civilian Climate Corps, obvious changes must be made. Women and people of color will be included in the diversity of the corps as well as providing an inclusive environment.
California Chief Service Officer, Josh Fryday said, “We are excited to build the first statewide California Climate Action Corps, and we look forward to building it with the help of passionate Californians, businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, and communities across the state.”
California Climate Action Corps fellows will spend seven months to a year supporting community climate action projects through the program CivicSpark. The cities where most fellows will be placed are Fresno, Stockton, San Jose, Los Angeles and Redlands.
As the number of jobs in the state increases, so will the stipend. Last year, fellows received $22,000. This year they will receive a $5,000 increase. Economists look at these opportunities as a way to help America overcome the climate change crisis as well as the ongoing economic crisis that was kindled by the pandemic.
Progressive lawmakers showed the corps could create about 1.5 million jobs nationwide in five years that would revolve around forest management, fire mitigation, conservation projects, and building climate resilience.
Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts commented on the Civilian Climate Corps saying, “We want good jobs with good wages, but our goal is to unleash the idealism of young people in our country and give them the ability to work on solving this climate crisis.”
The programs will be volunteer-led and will aim to engage people with any amount of time they can give. From children to seniors, all forms of volunteerism aim to battle climate change through healthy behaviors. Volunteers will plant trees, learn about composting and reducing food waste, urban forestry, and fire mitigation to name a few.
Those who obtain a fellowship will not only receive a living stipend but will also be eligible for college scholarships. Once they complete their term of service, they will also have their student loans paid off. On a national level, Congress would want members in the Climate Action Corps to move into long-term positions where their experience places them to lead against the climate crisis.
California is the first state to initiate a positive impact on our environment and unravel the damage done. There are many ways to get involved, regardless of how little spare time an individual may have. Governor Newsom hopes to inspire similar action across the nation and the globe to fight climate change.
To help and be a part of the solution go to ClimateActionCorps.ca.gov