Since Peter Matthiessen's passing, I've been rereading one of his best known books, The Snow Leopard. In an early passage, PM predicts that following the then current (and still current) trend, the young boys he saw in the valleys below the Himalaya would grow up to destroy their land, which in the 70's was already being deforested at an alarming rate. He recommends that the Nepalese government utilize their dormant military to instead be out planting trees.
Today we still consider trees to be the best combatant to clearing our atmosphere of extreme CO2 levels and as an American, host to the largest military in the world, costing more than four times China, our closest competitor, I think we should heed this advice and employ our 850,000 citizens in Army Reserves alone to undertake global reforestation missions.
This is unlikely to happen. However, in my research I've come across a US Corps which did in fact employ Americans to execute conservation programs across the country. The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the most popular programs to come out of FDR's New Deal. In the grips of the Great Depression, "The Tree Army", as Roosevelt called it, gave unemployed American men 18-25 a job conserving our natural resources in exchange for food, shelter, clothing and $30 a month, $25 mandated to the individuals families. In nine years it employed three million Americans and executed numerous conservation agendas across the US. The program ended in 1942, shortly after the US entered WWII.
These days we hear Obama constantly harping on the chords FDR wrote, recommending we built roads, bridges, update America's infrastructure, among other New Deal concepts. Why has there not been a call for the return of the CCC when it is so needed by both the environment and our workforce? I suspect for the same reason we won't see our Army Reserves planting trees either, save a handful getting down on an NFL event. Money and might and the most convenient way to achieve both, continue to guide our policies.