Ondo: PDP tackles Akeredolu over daughters wedding in Mauritius

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…EXCO members went at their personal expenses — Govt

Dayo Johnson, Akure

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo state yesterday said the conduct of the wedding of the daughter of governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Mauritius was a vexatious display of insensitivity by the governor towards the difficult challenges currently being faced by citizens of the state.

It alleged that ” almost 100 people attended the wedding in Mauritius adding that ” such a visit is not only needless but irresponsible and shows clearly what the priorities of this government are”.

A statement issued by the state Director of Media and Publicity , Zadok Akintoye in Akure said “Within the last two years, the governor has celebrated weddings of his children across the world from Canada to the United States and now Mauritius at the expense of citizens of this state without any sense of respect to the people he leads.

“How else can one explain the present display of affluence and disdain for the people?

The governor, family members, members of the State Executive Council, wives of traditional rulers, Speaker Bamidele Oloyelogun, Deputy Speaker lroju Ogundeji and other principal officers of the State House of Assembly amongst others aides of the governor and his wife Betty travelled to Mauritius for the wedding.

Akeredolu’s daughter, Dr Teniola was joined in holy wedlock with Engineer Olatunde Mike Oyeyiola at the Long Beach Sun Resort, Mauritius on the 30th of November.

Akintoye said “The recent outcry of citizens of this state against the vexatious display of insensitivity by the Governor of Ondo state, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, remains another testament of the lack of empathy by the APC-led government towards the difficult challenges currently being faced by citizens.

“Considering very carefully the deplorable condition of public infrastructure in the state, the high number of students in public universities who have been forced to either suspend or fully abandon their academic pursuits, the inability of this government to provide basic and affordable healthcare.

” One would have expected the governor to show some minimal level of empathy expected of a public servant superintending over a government that has increased taxes and levies paid by citizens and forced many to seek survival through pain.

” lt is on record that this APC-led government, remains the most anti-people government in the history of Ondo state and one that has glorified crony capitalism, nepotism, tribalism and wanton disregard for the welfare of the people.

“We therefore ask this government to face the serious issues of providing good governance rather than turning the administration of  public wealth and resources into an opportunity for grandiose parties and jamboree.

“The indefensible response from the Honorable Commissioner for Information, Mr. Donald Ojogo that only five cabinet members graced the occasion, can at best be seen as a  deliberate attempt misinform the citizens.

” Its on record that members of the Cabinet, the Speaker and Members of the state House of Assembly, Aides and Assistants of this Governor, numbering almost 100 attended the wedding in Mauritius.

“For a government that has not been able to mobilize its aides to deal with the deplorable state of public infrastructure in the state, such a visit is not only needless but irresponsible and shows clearly what the priorities of this government are.

ALSO READ: Breaking: Police declare Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer ‘Ejiofor’ wanted

” We put this government on notice that its’ reckless abandonment of the good of the people will be remembered when this government is replaced by a more people friendly PDP government in 2020.

However, in a swift reaction, the information and Orientation commissioner Donald Ojogo has denied the ” needless insinuations surrounding the wedding ceremony of the daughter of the governor in Mauritius.

Ojogo said that “the baleful narratives deliberately churned out to the public were not in unexpected.

“This is more so that the quality of those who attended the event has the capacity to draw such carousal inspirations that state funds were spent on the travel and other expenditures of those who were at the ceremony.

” lt is perhaps, pertinent to state that the erroneous impression being created by those behind the unsavoury perspectives that the entire members of the State Executive Council attended the event is not just puerile but pernicious.

“For the records, not more than five of the 30-member Cabinet graced the event at their personal expense.

He added that “We therefore plead with sponsors of such unholy narratives to be kind enough to provide evidence of State Government’s funds spent on those who attended the wedding ceremony.

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

astronaut

Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Profiles: 4 Twitter executives that visited Nigeria with CEO, Jack Dorsey

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On Thursday, 7th of November 2019, co-founder and CEO of social media service, Twitter, and mobile payments company, Square, Jack Dorsey, came to Lagos, Nigeria on the first leg of an African tour that will span Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

The next day in Lagos, Jack met with entrepreneurs at the the Bosun Tijan-led Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) and afterwards headed to the University of Lagos (Unilag).

He also visited Andela and ended the day with a well-attended town hall meeting at the Techpoint Africa headquarters in Lagos.

The 14-man Twitter entourage included four executive members asides Jack Dorsey.

Kayvon Beykpour

Kayvon Beykpour is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter’s video streaming application, Periscope.

Beykpour started Periscope with Joe Bernstein in early 2014. Less than a year later, in January 2015, and before it publicly launched, the app was acquired by Twitter.

In 2017, Beykpour started overseeing all the video initiatives at Twitter as a product lead.

During the town hall meeting, Techpoint invited a Nigerian engineer, Dara Oladosu, to present the solution to Jack Dorsey. Oladosu had built a Twitter bot, called Quoted Replies, that allows users see quoted replies on their tweets.

Suggested Read: Quoted Replies: The viral Twitter bot built by a Nigerian

After the presentation, Beykpour called Oladosu back and offered him a job on the spot.

“I would love for you to maybe consider come joining the company [Twitter],” Beykpour said.

“Things went way better than I expected”. @dara_tobi, creator of @QuotedReplies, reacts to getting a job offer from Twitter. He also discusses the fate of his viral Twitter bot in this interview https://t.co/ZVQKwH6mc3 pic.twitter.com/1wgYOxjHv5

— Techpoint Africa (@Techpointdotng) November 9, 2019

Parag Agrawal

Parag Agrawal is the chief technical officer (CTO) at Twitter.

As an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, as well as having a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University, Parag was chosen in 2018 to lead the technology team of the micro-blogging site after working for Twitter as a distinguished software engineer for over six years.

According to Parag’s LinkedIn profile, he assumed the CTO position in October 2017, after six years of being in his previous role.

Before that, he focused on research in Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AT&T labs up until October 2011 when he joined Twitter.

According to Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), Parag’s contributions included “leading efforts to increase the relevance of tweets on Twitter users’ timelines using artificial intelligence.”

Parag is one of the people responsible for Twitter’s foray into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) space, and may have played a major part in utilising the technology to automate campaigns on the platform. Something that Jack Dorsey has cited as perhaps the single biggest improvement around elections since he became CEO of the company he co-founded.

During their visit to Techpoint Africa’s HQ, Parag made it clear that Twitter is looking outside the Bay Area for engineering talent.

“We’re looking to have half of our engineers out of San Francisco,” said the CTO.

TJ Adeshola

TJ Adeshola is the head of US Sports Partnerships at Twitter. He assumed the role after three years as the head of Sports League Partnerships.

In 2012, Adeshola left sports channel ESPN to join Twitter as a senior account officer. Before his current role, Adeshola managed Twitter’s partnerships with major US sports leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB).

He is also the executive sponsor of Blackbirds, Twitter’s business resource group that celebrates and encourages diverse perspectives.

Adeshola is Nigerian by origin, but he is not the only Nigerian working at Twitter.

Michael Montano studied electrical engineering at The University of Toronto, graduating in 2008.

After his first startup, IPartee, which he co-founded with a roommate back in high school, Mike went on to participate in the 2008 Y Combinator (YC) summer programme to start BackType, a service that lets people find, follow, and share comments from across the web.

At YC, Mike learned how important it is to build something that people want and that building something that’s useful right away is a huge advantage.

He joined Twitter in 2011 as an engineer, and after a major reorganisation by Jack on June 28, 2018, Mike was tasked with leading the company’s engineering team.

Even as Twitter’s lead engineer, Mike admits to working from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He claims he is more productive on those days and able to spend more time on deeper, more strategic work. Tweeting under the hashtag #WhyIWorkFromHome last month, Mike explained that his journey into remote work was initially restricted to afternoons before he made it an all-day affair.

Before IPartee, Mike started a design and development company called, UrbanTwelve, but he doesn’t consider that to be a startup.

New Report: Nigerian startups raised a combined $38.01m in Q3 2019, just 7% higher than Q3 2018. Download the report.

Attend Techpoint Startup School, a 5-day intensive training for budding African tech founders and CEOs. Classes start 2nd of December. Enrol now.

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Filmmaker tells IBB’s story in biopic film, ‘Badamosi’

By Agency Reporter

The story of former Nigerian military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida popularly known as IBB, has been documented in a new biopic, ‘Badamosi: Portrait of a General’.

The film, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Obi Emelonye, explores Babangida’s story from childhood up to his run as the Head of State, also touching several key history points in Nigeria’s history.

Babangida was Head of State from Aug. 27, 1985 to Aug. 26, 1993. He previously served as the Chief of Army Staff from January 1984 to August 1985.

Wikipedia, the online dictionary describes him as a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria (July 1966, February 1976, December 1983, August 1985) and notably moved the seat of power from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, the filmmaker explained the inspiration behind the film and its importance in modern-day Nigeria.

Emelonye said: “I decided to use the IBB story to explore our history and our political consciousness.

“In a film, what creates drama is conflict. If you are such an easy-going, quiet person, nobody would want to make a film about you, which explains the hundreds of films made about Hitler.

“It tells you that the more complex a character, the better their stories will be for film.

“So we started looking for stories of Nigerian leaders that can be used to explore our history. The story of Babangida stood out,” he said.

Emelonye also said that it was important to get Babangida’s authorisation and perspective while making the film to increase its authenticity.

He said: “I wanted to make it authorised. I wanted his participation because that is what will make it more interesting.

“This is because most stories are already in the public domain and there will be no point to make a film about it.

“The only thing missing is his personal perspective, which we don’t have. For me, his participation was the determining and distinguishing factor,” he added.

On the portrayal of Babangida in the film, Emelonye noted that in history, perspectives differ hence the need to document from Babangida’s perspective.

He said: “Whatever came out as a persona of Babangida was a function of the information from news outlets.

“What I did with this film was to dig deeper into the psyche of the man himself, to find his perspective to the things we already know in the public domain,” Emelonye said.

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NAN reports that the trailer of the film, starring Eyinna Nwigwe in the lead titular role, has been sparking several conversations on social media as the premiere draws close.

Some of the social media reactions to the trailer go thus: @Baudex said, “I hope they get the story right. Many of us still know how it all went and most of us who don’t have our parents to tell us. Getting the story right will determine the extent the film will go. This is portraying IBB as a hero.

@Daisy said, “Finally we are telling our own stories and documenting our own history.

@Stitchesandstones said, “This is welcome. If they remove history from the curriculum, art will help us remember.

@Olabanle said, “Nollywood is finally listening and I am excited. There are stories in Nigerian history that need screen time and I applaud Obi Emelonye.

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Filmmaker tells IBB’s story in biopic film, ‘Badamosi’ – Vanguard News

person

The story of former Nigerian military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida popularly known as IBB, has been documented in a new biopic, ‘Badamosi: Portrait of a General’.

The film, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Obi Emelonye, explores Babangida’s story from childhood up to his run as the Head of State, also touching several key history points in Nigeria’s history.

Babangida was Head of State from Aug. 27, 1985, to Aug. 26, 1993. He previously served as the chief of army staff from January 1984 to August 1985.

He was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria (July 1966, February 1976, December 1983, August 1985, December 1985 and April 1990) and notably moved the seat of power from Lagos to Abuja in 1991.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, the filmmaker explained the inspiration behind the film and its importance in modern-day Nigeria.

Emelonye said: “I decided to use the IBB story to explore our history and our political consciousness.

“In a film, what creates drama is conflict. If you are such an easy-going, quiet person, nobody would want to make a film about you which explains the hundreds of films made about Hitler.

“It tells you that the more complex a character, the better their stories will be for the film.

“So we started looking for stories of Nigerian leaders that can be used to explore our history. The story of Babangida stood out,” he said.

Emelonye also said that it was important to get Babangida’s authorisation and perspective while making the film to increase authenticity.

He said: “I wanted to make it authorised. I wanted his participation because that is what will make it more interesting.

“This is because most stories are already in the public domain and there will be no point to make a film about it.

“The only thing missing is his personal perspective which we don’t have. For me, his participation was the determining and distinguishing factor,” he added.

On the portrayal of Babangida in the film, Emelonye noted that in history, perspectives differ hence the need to document from Babangida’s perspective.

He said: “Whatever came out as a persona of Babangida was a function of the information from news outlets.

“What I did with this film was to dig deeper into the psyche of the man himself to find his perspective to the things we already know in the public domain,” Emelonye said.

NAN reports that the trailer of the film, starring Eyinna Nwigwe in the lead titular role, has been sparking several conversations on social media as the premiere draws closer.

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Climate change and the US south for a year

I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough

atmosphere

Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation.

My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong horses grazing on the dunes. For now, theyve survived the latest big hurricane, and theyre free.

The 100 or so wild horses have one square kilometer of high ground on which to weather hurricanes and sea level rise, and a shortage of fresh water endangered by encroaching salt water and storm surge. Some scientists recommend that the Shackleford horses be relocated, although they have been there for centuries.

The story is a familiar one that will be told in a thousand different ways as the atmosphere warms in the years to come: we must think creatively and quickly to save the things we love.

I wrote my Climate Changed column between hurricane seasons, in the wake of Hurricane Florence and before the start of Hurricane Barry. I close the column from Beaufort, a place where Florence brought a record storm surge; it caused $17bn in damage to the state. As my daughters and I drive over the bridge into Morehead City, I see bulldozers still clearing the last of the Channel Marker restaurant, a fixture of Atlantic Beach flooded during Florence.

I thought that Hurricane Florence might serve as a turning point in the conversation about the realities of climate change in a region still mired in a culture of denial and delay. After a year of research and reporting, I am not convinced that the conversation has changed fast enough, if much at all. Here in Beaufort, like Miami and Charleston, I encounter deniers, continued waterfront development, hurricane damage and blistering temperatures.

A
A great blue heron is silhouetted by the reflection of the rising sun at Lake Johnson Park in Raleigh. Photograph: Alamy

 

If there is any part of the south where technology, tax dollars and public opinion are aligning to make changes, its Miami, even though new waterfront real estate is still being built. But for the most part, climate change discussions continue to fall along party lines in a divided nation. To many rural southerners, the bigger, well-funded environmental movements seem to be rooted in California and New England. The conversations appear to be taking place in the echo chamber of privileged believers.

I saw more of the south while reporting for this column than I ever saw in my 30 years of living there. My travel reinforced what I already knew: there is no one south. In 2019 it is multitudinous, diverse and still reckoning with its plantation economy and cruel social history. It has PhDs, evangelicals, Trump enthusiasts, environmentalists, artists and activists. Its this very tension that has often made the south the genesis of social movements; one hopes it might happen again, and soon.

Social and environmental racism, income inequality and poverty are as present as they have ever been, and are only weaponized by climate change, as I reported from Virginia and Natchez, Mississippi.

I found that in places like eastern North Carolina, the river parishes of Louisiana, Miami, and Mississippis Gulf coast, chronic exposure to natural disasters has resulted in psychological resilience, and created a desire in some to go down with the ship. In places like New Orleans, trauma strengthens the sense of community. As Tropical Storm Barry moved in to New Orleans, I emailed with former interviewees who shared forecasts and concerns. Im gritting my teeth, one wrote. But Im not evacuating. Home is sometimes more an emotional than a rational commitment.

In eastern North Carolina, where I grew up and write from, climate change was never a polite topic of conversation. I was told the same in a coffee shop in Mississippi, and by a minister in Georgia. Too many southerners are still dancing around the reality of climate change, and the cost of avoiding the conversation is going to be steep.

What does a better and more inclusive conversation look like? Non-traditional environmentalists can be critical allies in addressing the culture of climate change denial below the Mason-Dixon Line, like hunters in Arkansas and evangelical Christians in places like St Simons, Georgia. But too often, the perspectives and interests of frontline communities are ignored, further exacerbating the environmental racism so pervasive in the south.

When it comes to climate change preparedness in this region, part of the continued challenge is that the power structures of the old south remain in place. A Pew survey indicated that white evangelical protestants are the least likely to profess a belief in climate change. Power companies, developers and conservative politicians have a vested interest in deregulation and maintaining the environmental status quo, and many paint environmental concerns as nothing but liberal pagan ideas.

When I began this column, I felt more of a duty to listen to all sides, but frankly I do not believe that climate change is an issue of which one can pretend, or afford, to hear both sides. I believe that to deny climate change and delay productive action in 2019 is malicious and akin to governmental malpractice. A government that is not actively protecting its citizens from the future challenges of climate change (property loss, food system collapse, increased intensity of storms, flooded infrastructure, extreme heat, economic disruption) is not acting in the interests of its citizens. A politician who delays climate action is not acting in his or her constituents best interests, and may be going so far as to actually cause harm.

We do not need to hear another word from deniers, or cater to their anti-science position. Something the progressive south has always struggled to do: take the megaphone away from the people who want to live in the past.

Now that Ive seen more of the south, I cant help but feel losses and concerns in a specific way. As I began to write this final column, a fire raged through the Everglades, which I had driven through just months before. Storms threatened to challenge the already saturated Mississippi and its river control structures. I thought about the gators in the marsh, the last wild panthers darting to safety in the Everglades, the bartender who was kind to me in an ancient pub on Natchez-under-the-hill. The loss of life and landscape in climate change scenarios has always troubled me, but now it is real and urgent in a way it has never been before.

When the wild horses of Shackleford Banks weather storms, the dominant male gathers his harem on high ground or in the deep parts of the maritime forest, and they turn their backs to the wind and rain. A researcher observed that while wild herds are typically divided into harems, the divisions break down in extreme weather. The horses gave up their internal political dynamics, he said, staying together on the relatively highest ground of that site. That is how they survive.

To navigate the decades ahead, and save the places we love and call home, southerners will need to dismantle old political dynamics and build new, inclusive alliances.

 

 

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