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Forum, July 5: The pandemic is still threatening the entire globe

Published: 7/4/2021 10:00:03 PM
Modified: 7/4/2021 10:00:05 PM
The pandemic is still threatening the entire globe

As summer comes into full swing in the Upper Valley and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it feels as though the nightmare of the pandemic is finally coming to a close. However, in a global sense, the effects of the pandemic are still crushing.

Prior to the pandemic, 1 in 9 people were hungry worldwide and 736 million people lived in extreme poverty, according to a 2018 World Health Organization report. Because of the pandemic, there has been a global reduction in job opportunities, lower wages, less access to health care assistance, difficulties transitioning to remote learning and food insecurity. All of these issues contribute to a rise in hunger and extreme poverty. Currently, the pandemic is slated to push 150 million more people into extreme poverty globally, reversing decades of progress.

So, not only has the already-staggering rate of global hunger and extreme poverty increased due to the pandemic, only 0.9% of people in low-income countries are fully vaccinated. This means that the pandemic is not even close to over in these areas, and conditions are worsening for those living in these nations.

The presence of large unvaccinated populations also is a risk for everyone. We have already seen variants appearing, and variants will continue to do so until we reach a sufficient number of fully vaccinated people. This is why it is essential for Congress to support a coordinated COVAX initiative to globally distribute vaccines and create a plan to share the 553 million excess vaccinations that will be left over after every American is fully vaccinated.

Additionally, we need to urge our leaders to prioritize lifesaving aid in subsequent COVID-19 relief bills and in the fiscal 2022 appropriations bill for the State Department, USAID and other development agencies.



What would the founders think?

Professor Randall Balmer’s great op-ed column on our founder’s intent describes the logjam we are now in with some Supreme Court justices (“ ‘Originalism’ and the Second Amendment,” June 6). I believe that the original intent is clear, because they wrote it down.

It is in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And it is in the Constitution: “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

If the current mass shootings are someone’s idea of “domestic Tranquility,” I’d hate to see what chaos is. If “unalienable Rights” include freedom of and from religion — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — I wonder what the founders would think about laws based on some churches’ teaching that are not fair to everyone, or churches supported by town taxes (from the 19th century, now done away with), or the required Sunday closing of stores, etc. (which lasted into the 20th century, now done away with), or reproductive freedom and privacy of intimacy being debated again in the guise “protection.”



Nuclear option to heat the campus

The University of Illinois is planning to heat its Urbana campus with a new, underground nuclear reactor with a fuel cartridge that lasts 20 years. The university is working with Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. to partially replace a coal-fired plant, seeking Department of Energy funding and preparing a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license application.

Dartmouth College has already rebuilt its hot-water circulating district heating system in anticipation of plans for a wood chip burning plant, now dropped. Dartmouth continues to burn 3.5 million gallons of No. 6 fuel oil annually as it seeks a better energy source. The Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. reactor generates 15 megawatts of heat, approximately the demand from the Dartmouth campus.



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