Category Archives: Climate Crisis

The Climate Crisis Requires Unpopular Positions

Politicians and the public don’t seem to understand the severity of the climate crisis. Scientists recently noted that human-emitted greenhouse gases are causing the ocean to warm at the same rate as if we continuously dropped five nuclear bombs on the oceans per second (Cheng et al., 2020; press release with atom bomb comparison). Just a few months ago, we had this potential disaster sitting right off our shores:

Hurricane Dorian radar image

Hurricanes are forming in more unusual places and rapidly intensifying because of human greenhouse gas emissions, of which carbon dioxide is central, responsible for about half of all warming. This is just one of many deleterious effects… sea level rise, droughts and flooding, fires, and extreme heat and cold snaps are among the other effects. The CO2 concentration has reached 413 parts-per-million in earth’s atmosphere, which is the highest in human history, and there are many further ramifications that are already guaranteed (“baked in”) that we will see in our lifetimes.

Our farmers are getting hit hard, and more than half of greenhouse gas emissions in all of human history have occurred within the past several decades. A Great Acceleration of human development has taken hold since 1950, and it is going to end very badly unless we make radical changes now.

Listening to the Democratic debate last night, I heard Joe Biden say we need “green highways” and to build up roads and buildings in places affected by sea level rise. First off, there are no “green” highways; that’s like saying there is “green” coal or “green” smokestacks. Secondly, Biden may have been referring to the fact that many roads in the Florida Keys will be underwater within the next 20 years, but suggesting we throw federal funds at this is like trying to turn the tide of an ocean. It’s foolish, ridiculous, expensive, and won’t work. We also heard Amy Klobuchar make the absurd recommendation that oil derived from fracking should be embraced as a bridge fuel, which was a ridiculous recommendation that a fracking profiteer also made to failed Congressional candidate Paul Perry regarding his anti-fracking stance and the need for money from the fracking industry to fund his campaign for Congress.

Our government is bought and paid for. We are not seeing real leadership, which requires highly unpopular but necessary positions on items such as travel, tourism, the economy, and moral hazards. In addition, we must end subsidies for fossil fuels, end American militarism which emits more greenhouse gases than Sweden and Denmark combined, combat American materialism and throwaway culture, and be much harder on the rich in terms of taxes and disincentives, as the earth’s wealthiest 10% cause 50% of human greenhouse gas emissions, whereas the poorest 50% cause only 10% of emissions. When Republicans vent their anger about welfare going to the supposedly undeserving poor, they should really be directing their anger at the wealthy who are receiving huge, grotesque amounts of welfare—which includes real tax breaks and privilege as well as imputed benefits from not having to pay for all the damage they are causing.

Travel

We often hear that flying accounts for only 2% of CO2 emissions. In fact, the real figure is about triple, around 6%. Airplanes spew greenhouse gases seven miles about the ground, which is almost twice as impactful as doing this at ground level. Plus, the airplanes and airports themselves require tons of aluminum, plastic, concrete, and steel, all of which cause greenhouse gas emissions.

Portland cement, the key ingredient in concrete, is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. The Wekiva Parkway, a new 25-mile toll road being constructed to the north of Apopka and then turning east toward Sanford, crosses through sensitive wetlands and required careful planning and unprecedented proportions of bridges and elevated sections made of… you guessed it, concrete. Even a “green” highway that allows water and wildlife to cross under it is a climate disaster. At least an asphalt road on packed dirt doesn’t require enormous concrete bridges.

Peak travel must end. Everyone needs to travel much less. This doesn’t mean that people can’t travel at all. This doesn’t mean we need an authoritarian government to crack down on travel. Just pricing travel appropriately would make a huge difference. Gasoline at $2–$3 a gallon makes no sense. People in the future will wish they could go back in time and pay $2 or $3 per gallon to stop us from using it. Tourism and our economy are built on kicking the can down the road. We aren’t paying the true costs now, but the reckoning is coming and has already begun to manifest.

Taxation of travel to incorporate its true costs can be done progressively. We can charge the rich more for gas, more for flying, and more for other extravagances while allowing the working class to pay much less. The wealthiest Americans are already robber barons receiving massive subsidies and welfare, so this should not be contentious. We figured out a scheme for rationing gas in the 1970s oil crises, so I’m sure we can figure this out.

Tourism

When the prime minister of the Bahamas was asked what the world can do to help the islands ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, he cited tourism. He said:

Please come and visit one or more of the 14 other major islands in the Bahamas not affected by Hurricane Dorian, including Nassau on the island of New Providence. The revenue from tourists visiting The Bahamas will play a vital role in reconstructing and rebuilding the affected areas.

The paradox is that tourism helps in the short term but is disastrous in the long term. Many tourists arrive in the Bahamas via cruise ships, which are a climate disaster, emitting 3–4 times as much CO2 per mile when compared with flying. They use inexpensive, dirty fuel putting out toxic emissions that ravage the atmosphere. As with Dorian, future hurricanes will ironically be intensified by the very tourists who are providing tax revenue to the Bahamas in order to rebuild the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.

When people come to Daytona Beach for NASCAR, for Bike Week, or for our beautiful beaches, often from thousands of miles away, we aren’t paying for the climate damage. When NASCAR upgrades their stadium, not only do they receive tremendous tax breaks but they aren’t paying for the climate emissions from concrete, asphalt, and steel, or the leaded gas the race cars use by environmental waiver. When Sam’s Club decides to move from one part of Daytona Beach to another and building a completely new concrete building with a huge asphalt parking lot, they aren’t paying for the climate damage as compared with renovating the old building that now sits vacant on Beville Road. We shop at the new Sam’s Club… it’s nice, but undeniably extravagant.

When Disney World induces tourists to fly in from California or even other countries thousands of miles further away, they aren’t paying for it. When people fly into Orlando for the many academic, military, and industry conferences that go on here, we aren’t paying for the climate damage.

The I-4 Ultimate project is psychotic. The massive expansion to the Orlando airport is cruel and insane. As humans, are we just stupid? The ultimate irony is when I-4 Ultimate had to brace for Hurricanes Irma and Dorian. Our very actions are making hurricanes worse, and then we get into this crazy cycle where we brace for hurricanes by filling up gas cans for generators, and then end up having to rebuild stronger buildings that are elevated with more rebar and concrete to be more sturdy, emitting more greenhouse gases that make future hurricanes even worse. It’s madness.

A Path Forward

False equivalence is a logical fallacy that comes up time and time again when it comes to the climate crisis. It’s bad to drive a car, so anyone with a car shouldn’t be allowed to call out Michael Bloomberg for having a private jet, a helicopter, and 11 mansions. In truth, we can rank particular actions on a scale from good to bad, or from neutral to terrible. One does not have to be a climate saint in order to point out that we are on the wrong track. Much human suffering is already occurring from the climate crisis, and what’s coming in the future will be worse. Our actions now will answer the question: How bad do you want it to be? We can either keep going with the tremendously disastrous status quo, or we can take action to prevent death and suffering and to make the future better for the poor, minorities, the working class, and disadvantaged individuals in Florida and all over the United States and planet earth.

Perspective, Issues, and My Potential Role in Congress (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 3)

I have now completed the Ballotpedia survey, although it may take a couple days to show up on their website. For these items, I delve into my perspective, several issues, and my potential role in Congress. For past segments, please see these posts:
More About Me and Key Issues (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 1)
On the Climate Crisis and the Next Decade (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 2)

NOTE: On February 21, 2020, I came around to fully endorsing Bernie Sanders’s vision for Medicare for All Americans. My previous stance was to expand Obamacare and Medicaid as being more realistic, but with Bernie’s break-out performance in the Democratic presidential race, I believe we have a real shot at Medicare for All which will be much better!

If you are not a current representative, are there certain committees that you would want to be a part of?

I would love to be on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which is chaired by Kathy Castor, a fellow Democrat from Florida’s 14th district that includes most of Tampa. Although the Daytona Beach area is also at-risk, the Tampa Bay area is especially vulnerable to stronger and more unpredictable hurricanes that rapidly intensify due to the climate crisis, given that there has been so much development there in the past decade particularly in low-lying areas. In the long run, all of Florida is also vulnerable to sea level rise, and we have already seen this affecting Miami Beach with king tides. We have a duty to the next generation, as well as to current victims such as farmers and climate refugees, to tackle the climate crisis head-on, with all options on the table, such as removing subsidies (including hidden subsidies) for fossil fuels and removing encumbrances for green energy, with a particular focus on storing said energy. There must also be a growing realization that travel and jet-setting needs to be curtailed, particularly among the world’s wealthiest 10% who are responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. Although my Ph.D. is in Education rather than Climatology, as a scholar I am firmly focused on science and facts and will always deliver cogent arguments and real solutions to the table.

Other committees of interest to me are the Financial Services Subcommittees on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions and on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets, and the Education Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. I have backgrounds in financial literacy education and teacher education, focused on standing up for working-class Americans and teachers to financially educate them and stop big financial institutions from bamboozling them into foreclosure, student loan or other debt, or cash-strapped retirements. I particularly focus on women and minorities who face even greater disadvantages.

Do you believe that two years is the right term length for representatives?

I think it’s too short. Four years would be more reasonable. If you look at the House, you’ll see they are constantly up for re-election. New members from both parties are told that “dialing for dollars” takes precedence over actual governing. Representatives are not allowed to do this from the Capitol or their offices, so the parties have dank cubicles set up in office space a couple blocks from the Capitol where new members are told they should be spending 30+ hours a week of their time calling potential donors. They’re given scripts including the names of the children of the potential donors they are calling, and party leaders update a whiteboard in real-time with representatives’ names and total $$$ procured, in red, black, or green depending on whether they are below, at, or above target. The daily schedule of the House is built around being out-of-session during the valuable lunch hours, and new members are chastised for attending committee meetings during time they are supposed to spend dialing for dollars. It’s a disgrace. I won’t do it. I might still end up being able to pay my party dues (required for committee assignments and re-election support) from social media donations, or fancy events, but if not, then so be it. I am not for sale and I think too many of our politicians are, or were (they were bought and paid for long ago).

What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?

I think good governance requires looking out for people, and we really aren’t doing it. We have a huge national debt, a world on fire, and the greatest financial inequality in modern history. Congress should not be in the back pocket of wealthy individuals and corporations. Congress could stand up for the poor, the downtrodden, the forgotten Americans—but instead they legislate and prioritize helping the rich attain greater wealth and privilege without paying their fair share commensurate with what they are extracting from American people, government, and public resources and commons. If Walmart or Amazon’s employees are all on Medicaid and food stamps, shouldn’t we be billing that back to Walmart and Amazon? When it comes to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017, passed solely by Republicans, it was the greatest robbery in modern history. The Republicans want you to buy into trickle-down economics or that they care about small businesses. It’s one big fat lie. Congress and state governments alike facilitate monstrosities like Amazon, Walmart, and Wells Fargo that crush small businesses left and right. When Apple repatriated all that money from overseas, most of it just went to share buybacks, which are at an all-time high nationwide. Our government needs to work for our people. You should not have to beg for scraps from feudal overlords who will kick you to the curb if you get pregnant, hurt your back, or if they find some way to replace you with a robot.

One of my focuses is Restoring Congressional Authority. I think it goes back to the emphasis on “dialing for dollars”—Congress has abdicated so many of its responsibilities that are written plain-as-day in the United States Constitution. We can’t delegate our war powers to a reckless president. We can’t pass bills written entirely by lobbyists that we don’t even have time to read. The House needs to take control of the purse strings and really take responsibility for budgets, spending, and debt.

Date of birth
August 17, 1991

Place of birth
Daytona Beach, FL

Gender
Male

Religion
Agnostic

Education
Daytona State College, A.A., 2011
University of Central Florida, B.S. in Psychology, 2014
University of Central Florida, M.A. in Applied Learning & Instruction, 2016
University of Central Florida, Ph.D. in Education, 2019

What is your professional career to date?

At University of Central Florida I teach future teachers about technology and I studied the financial literacy of future teachers for my dissertation. I’ve been focused on personal finance, investing literacy, and financial policymaking for many years, and I’ve also become a voracious reader about the climate crisis from greenhouse gases in the past couple years. My wife and I have a handsome, goofy 10-month-old baby boy, which has really got us thinking about the future and what life will be like for him in adulthood. I’m also a bit of an expert on blended learning and worked across disciplines at UCF on National Science Foundation grants for cutting-edge STEM assessment methodologies and helped with the founding of the Center for Students with Unique Abilities by getting their website set up and refined. I’m only 28, so I plan to make a big difference in many areas going forward, even if I don’t win this race.

Please list any professional credentials below.

Besides my degrees I was an editor of a recent Handbook of Research on Emerging Practices and Methods for K–12 Online and Blended Learning, and I’m experienced with statistics having earned an Advanced Quantitative Methodologies in Educational and Human Sciences certificate at UCF during my Ph.D. program, which required completing four difficult statistics courses. I’ve taught nearly 300 students at UCF in EME 2040: Introduction to Technology for Educators, and I’ve graded hundreds of Master’s-level assignments in the same field. I’m Florida teacher certified on the General Knowledge Test, and as an instructional designer have worked with the National Park Service and redesigned a Master’s-level research course. I type 100 words per minute (no joke), am an advanced pianist, used to clean greasy restaurant kitchens with caustic chemicals as a teenager, and as a new husband and father have had many sleepless nights and poopy diapers where the poop goes all up baby’s back onto everything.

What organizations are you affiliated with and how?

Of course University of Central Florida as a triple-alumnus and instructor, but I am also an experienced Toastmaster who was President of Port Orange Toastmasters for a year followed by Treasurer for a year. This gave me wonderful experience speaking, organizing, taking leadership, and managing a 501(c)(3) non-profit chapter of an international organization. I only left because it was too much after starting my Ph.D. in August 2016, which I just finished in December 2019. I’m a current member of the West Volusia Democrats, Port Orange Democrats, and the InfraGard FBI Partnership, as well as a past member of the Association of Teacher Educators, American Society for Engineering Education, Association for Educational Communications & Technology, Academy of Financial Services, and the UCF Daytona Beach Psychology Club.

What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?

I’m a firebrand, but I also know how to make sausage (although I am a vegetarian). I’m obviously a total nerd—you don’t become a Ph.D. without being a nerd, but I can distill a complex issue down to a sound bite when needed, or expound on it at the length and depth of a dissertation when the situation calls for it. You also don’t get through a Ph.D. program without dealing with a LOT of bureaucracy and paperwork, so I will be right at home in Washington, D.C. I’m a former Toastmasters president, so I already know a bit about Robert’s Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure. I’m also a voracious reader and podcast-listener capable of competently discussing and seeing both sides to a wide range of issues, but am also able to speak truth to power in recognizing and calling out deceit, trickery, or fallacious arguments.

Although I was born in Daytona Beach, my mother emigrated from the People’s Republic of China. I am profoundly lucky to have been born here and to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that we take for granted every day. I can put out anti-Trump statements without having to fear being “disappeared,” unlike the authoritarian government in China which has actually gotten worse under Chairman Jinping (do NOT call him “president”—it is a dishonor to the title). Our Constitution is a beacon of light and hope to the world, and I will always respect my oath of office in honoring, upholding, and respecting it. That includes the 2nd amendment, and it also includes restoring Congressional authority over matters they have abdicated responsibility for and that we are seeing a total lack of vision or leadership on. The founders were men of faith, and they recognized that government does not bestow privileges as a king does—rights are granted by God, and governments can either uphold and protect these rights or try to squash and suppress them. To be fair and just, we must endeavor to do the former.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?

The Doctor from Doctor Who. It would be so exciting to travel through time, although also dangerous with having to foil alien plots to destroy or subjugate humanity, using only a TARDIS and sonic screwdriver.

NOTE: On February 21, 2020, I came around to fully endorsing Bernie Sanders’s vision for Medicare for All Americans. My previous stance was to expand Obamacare and Medicaid as being more realistic, but with Bernie’s break-out performance in the Democratic presidential race, I believe we have a real shot at Medicare for All which will be much better!

Correspondence with local candidate about climate crisis, flooding

This is from my correspondence with a Flagler county local candidate discussing business cards, the climate crisis, sea level rise, flooding, and the 27–9–3 rule that suggests brief, parsimonious political messaging.

I went with 1,000 one-sided cards at Staples for $19.99. I think they turned out nice.

Yes, the king tides in Miami Beach are bad as well… there are some houses along a road in the Keys that may have to be abandoned as the cost is too high to elevate the road. A recent News-Journal piece noted that Daytona Beach is narrower than in past decades due to 9 inches of sea level rise since 1992. Of course South Florida is the most vulnerable but the Tampa Bay area is rapidly building up in vulnerable areas too. We don’t want to end up like Wuhan, China, paving over all our wetlands leading to disastrous recurring flooding. Old timers bought and built on high ground… newer developments are in low areas that would flood even without climate change and it will only get worse as climate change brings more severe weather, harsher rain (e.g., Hurricane Florence), and so forth. Many homeowners in Gotha, Florida recently experienced unexplained disastrous flooding even though they aren’t in a flood zone.

I don’t know about this 27–9–3 rule. It’s important to get attention, boil things down, and even over-promise to build up a movement behind you, but sometimes deep dives are helpful too, particularly for potential voters who are more inquisitive and highly educated. Who knows—they may end up being a catalyst to get many other people to vote for you, too.

I will see you at future meetings and events!

Good night,
Richard

On the Climate Crisis and the Next Decade (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 2)

Here is another question from my Ballotpedia survey I am still working on. The survey is really long so it will take me a bit more time to get it done. Below, I argue that the greatest challenge facing the United States over the next decade is the climate crisis.

What do you perceive to be the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade?

The same as the whole world’s greatest challenge: The climate crisis. We still have a major political party (Republicans) misleading and pretending it’s a false “bogeyman.” Read The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. Climate deniers engage in misdirection—yes, it’s hypocritical for those who know the facts to fly, drive a car, or live in a concrete house, but what’s happening at a systematic, institutional level is worse. When will we end the massive subsidies to coal, oil, gas/diesel, natural gas, cement, flying, and more? Congress as well as state legislatures can change this. The TRUE costs are not priced into the markets (Thripp, 2019).

We are having more radical weather; extreme fires; hurricanes rapidly intensifying over hotter ocean waters and forming further east, further north, and later than ever; coral reefs dying; glaciers melting; species dying; people dying from heat. South Florida in particular is suffering from ocean level rise and even Daytona Beach is narrower than in decades past. Mexico Beach is still devastated from Hurricane Michael. Many Puerto Ricans left after Hurricane Maria and are now climate refugees living in Florida, including in the 6th district.

A great acceleration of human development, population growth, and industrialization has occurred in the past few decades, with more greenhouse gases being emitted in the past several decades than in all prior human history combined. Going from 0.03% to 0.04% concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sounds small, but it’s hugely detrimental, and we may even see 0.05% in our lifetimes. Outdoor concentrations are a baseline for indoor environments which can be double or higher, which literally makes us dumber (Satish et al., 2012).

I support the Green New Deal. We need to cut back on travel, militarism, tourism, concrete, and so forth. We need to stop subsidizing emissions and focus on CO2 removal and green technologies. The future will be tough, but if we don’t, it will be hellish.

For Parts 1 and 3, click below:
More About Me and Key Issues (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 1)
Perspective, Issues, and My Potential Role in Congress (Ballotpedia Survey, Part 3)

Congressional Candidate Richard Thripp’s Campaign Speech to the Palm Coast Democrats, 1/09/2020

Here is my speech to the Palm Coast Democrats at their monthly meeting on January 9, 2020. This is my first public speech on the campaign trail. 🙂

See also on Instagram: Part 1, Part 2

Transcript with Minor Improvements

The 6th district has Michael Waltz as an incumbent. We know last time Nancy Soderberg ran but there’s really nobody running this time. I’m running. I just graduated from UCF. I’m a teacher educator. I just finished my Ph.D. in Education last month. Here’s my wife Kristy and my son Ricky. I’m not politically active in the past, but as I was working at UCF I studied what future teachers know about personal finance and it’s not a whole lot.

Right now, we’re having this Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It’s the greatest robbery in the history of our country. The corporations are just robbing us blind. I’m probably the only candidate who is running with one of my items being to expand the IRS, because if you look, they have fewer and fewer people; they’ve got more and more to do. If they go after someone wealthy or a corporation, they can’t do anything. The wealthy corporations have armies of attorneys and advanced auditors, and the IRS just doesn’t have the manpower, so they end up spending their time going after low income people, minorities, who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit in a way that may or may not be appropriate. This is not where they should focus.

Also, to me the climate crisis is very important. I don’t know if you remember, but a few months ago we had a Category 5 hurricane [Hurricane Dorian] sitting right off the coast of Florida and we were very lucky, and I know the people of the Bahamas were very unfortunate. But, that’s going to happen again, and there will be people who think we can never get hit by a hurricane who are going to get hit. Look what happened in the panhandle [Hurricane Michael]. The building codes there weren’t even designed for that sort of disaster. And so it’s getting worse and worse and worse, and all you’re seeing from Republicans and the Labor Party in Australia: NOTHING. They’re in bed with the coal companies; they’re in bed with everyone who is profiting and not paying for the damage they’re causing. You wouldn’t have someone just come, let’s say, everyone just come to your yard and dump all the garbage they want for free. How’s that going to work for my son? How’s that going to work for disadvantaged people? It’s not.

So please come out and vote on August 18th or early voting, and November 3rd or early voting, and I’ll also be supporting whoever our nominee is for President of the United States. Florida is CRITICAL. Florida is it. You wouldn’t have Trump putting his campaign kick-off event here. He just had his “homecoming” party because he is now domiciled in Florida instead of New York. If he loses Florida, he loses the election. Thank you.

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