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Halifax County trustees back new HCHS, pay package

Stalled priorities move ahead as School Board dips to seven members

Moser steps down from School Board, resigns as animal warden

PANIC FOR A SOUTH BOSTON PARENT: Child goes missing on school bus

On Tuesday, Tyshekka Ford of South Boston experienced a parent’s greatest fear — her child was missing.


Comets spikers fall to Tunstall on the road





In the zone / June 30, 2021
It would be emotionally calming to ride the usual roundelay in this space today, but unfortunately we’re in the midst of a planetary emergency and the same-old same-old simply won’t do.

One day we’ll look back at these times and marvel at the stark unsettledness of it all: evidenced by old photos of people wearing breathing masks, of the U.S. Capitol Building ransacked by a delusional mob in the emotional grip of an aberrant chief executive, of turmoil in the streets and in the Fortune 500 C-suites. But nothing will be quite as disturbing as reading through the old news clips and watching the highlight reels (will YouTube still be around?) and witnessing the complacency of our leadership class -— and alas, way too many members of the public — as Planet Earth caught fire.

Fifty years into the future, we may not have much of a future -— not if climate change proceeds in the fashion we’ve seen this week alone, with scorching temperatures in places where June is supposed to be among the most pleasant times of year. Portland, Ore. has seen the thermometer climb to 114 degrees. The all-time record was shattered with a reading of 108 in Seattle. Temps rose to 116 degrees in British Columbia. It’s 116 degrees in Canada. High temperatures in the 90s have been recorded this week in the Arctic Circle. Spare me the Santa in summertime jokes, none of this is the least bit amusing.

Also, too, lest anyone think our temperate corner of the world is somehow immune, just you wait.

The time for dithering and doubting is over. Climate change is real and it is barrelling towards us at uncertain but downright scary speed. The American West is suffering an epic drought that, without relief soon from Mother Nature, will wreak all kinds of nationwide damage, whether one lives in the bake zone or not. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of what we’re now seeing is the very real possibility of climate cascade failure in the near future: if the Arctic permafrost melts, the release of methane that’s captured in the soil and ice will turn up the climate oven to unimaginable levels. (Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas.) If drought decimates the rain forests, the world’s greatest carbon sink will cease to exist. If wildfires consume the West (no longer an “if,” really, but a “to what degree”), the heat dome that is tormenting a major part of the country today will become an insufferable burden tomorrow. The worst part might just be that all these scenarios have been laid out by the scientific community for years, and the powers that be have done almost nothing about it.

Let’s back up a moment and ponder this business about “the powers that be.” I realize that many readers get annoyed whenever I bring up the subject (see the letter by Col. Jack Pattison below as evidence, and yes, thank you, sir, for writing to Viewpoint and reading The Sun), but standard references to “both sides” being to blame for the problem are simply inaccurate. The Democratic Party of the United States has its faults, but climate denialism isn’t one of them. President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have talked at length in recent months about passing an infrastructure package that will meaningfully address climate change (and do something about the fact that the United States remains the world’s worst carbon emitter on a per-capita basis.) The Biden infrastructure package will modernize the electrical grid, wean the automotive public away from the internal combustion engine in favor of better-performing and infinitely cleaner electric vehicles, and decarbonize manufacturing processes that haven’t substantially changed over decades. One of our two major political parties is proposing realistic solutions to climate change that relatedly hold the potential to supercharge the economy and create jobs that will carry future generations to a brighter future.

And the other major political party? Here I will quote from a recent piece by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank whose quality of research (that is, fealty to facts) is unquestioned:

According to new analysis from the Center for American Progress, there are still 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress, including 109 representatives and 30 senators, who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change. All 139 of these climate-denying elected officials have made recent statements casting doubt on the clear, established scientific consensus that the world is warming — and that human activity is to blame. These same 139 climate-denying members have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the coal, oil, and gas industries.

While the number of climate deniers has shrunk by 11 members (from 150 to 139) since the CAP Action Fund’s analysis of the 116th Congress — largely in the face of growing and overwhelming public support for action on climate — their numbers still include the majority of the congressional Republican caucus. These climate deniers comprise 52 percent of House Republicans; 60 percent of Senate Republicans; and more than one-quarter of the total number of elected officials in Congress. Furthermore, despite the decline in total overall deniers in Congress, a new concerning trend has emerged: Of the 69 freshmen representatives and senators elected to their respective offices in 2020, one-third deny the science of climate change, including 20 new House Republicans and three-of-four new Republican senators. Of note, no currently serving Democratic or independent elected officials have engaged in explicit climate denial by this analysis’ definition.

If, by chance, you take it upon yourself to read Frank Ruff’s know-nothing natterings in his constituent column (which has turned into a full-time GOP screed, much worse than any output I can manage in the other direction), you’ll know that our senator is a out-and-out climate denier, too. No one cares what Frank Ruff thinks on the subject, of course, but his plodding recitations of the company line underscore just how deep-seated Republican Party dogma on climate change has become. ExxonMobil doesn’t need to donate to Ruff’s re-election campaigns; he’s already done the work for them.

Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado and writer for the lefty blog Lawyers Guns and Money (a great site, by the way, and not just for the Warren Zevon references) minces no words about the current state of American politics. Our ability to respond to the challenges posed by climate change is not fatally hampered by lack of technology, or lack of money, or lack of imagination. The problem, Campos writes, is that “the Republican party remains the only major political party in the developed world that continues to deny that human-caused climate change is even happening at all.” Is the fundamental truth of this statement remotely in question? The party has put itself in the unfortunate position of killing the planet as it seeks to buttress the political structures that keep it in business (as witnessed by a recent raft of voter suppression laws aimed squarely at Democratic-leaning constituencies.) When Republicans fortify and retrench in service to giving out tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy, that’s bad enough. When they thwart any response to a crisis that threatens the liveability of the planet, you might think that would be a different ball of wax. Judging by how the wax is melting these days, apparently that’s not how the Republican Party’s leadership sees the matter at all.

As always, it’s up to we the people to bring on change. To my Republican friends — do you really think it’s “business as usual” when heat records are being shattered daily across the country, and the natural world sends out cries for help that grow louder by the day? Do you really think “Critical Race Theory” (this month’s bogeymen of the moment, after Cancel Culture was more or less cancelled after a solid run of a few months) is a problem on par with accelerating climate change? It’s going to take an all-of-America response to lead us out of this looming disaster. Can we get on board with solutions rather than tear the country apart? Can we? Or is our destiny that of scorpions in a bottle, rolling down a mountainside that has caught aflame?

Summer’s here and the time is right, sang Martha and the Vandellas half a century ago. Little did we know at the time that those words would ring out today alternately as prophecy or threat. The time of choosing is here.

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