Environment, Energy and Climate Change
During my Masters of Science degree and then later in my career, I studied and published peer-reviewed research on coastal processes impacting the migration and translocation of the Gulf’s northern barrier islands, from the Chandeliers in Louisiana to Cape San Blas in Florida.
I developed geospatial models for sea level rise and hurricane storm surge under varying future climate scenarios, surveyed dune structure and integrity, and worked with coastal communities on sustainability and adaptability.
My work earned some of the highest honors in my academic field, including the Best Thesis Presentation from the Paleoenvironmental Change group and the Gilbert F. White Award for Best Graduate Thesis/Dissertation from the Association of American Geographers.
I then worked as a coastal scientist for the State of Louisiana before coming to Florida State to start my Ph.D.
Coastal science drives my doctoral research as I work to expand the historical hurricane record so that we can better project hurricane intensity, frequency, and geographic distribution during different oceanic cycles (like El Nino) and climate phases.
As much as we try to practice good conservation by turning off our faucet while brushing our teeth, keeping the air in our homes at 78°F, and making sure our lights are off when we leave home, climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions.
Our world has come together to confront global environmental issues in the past. The Montreal Protocol in the late 1980's saw a global coalition work to reduce ozone-depleting chemicals from atmospheric circulation. And it worked. The United States should be leading the world on this issue - not trailing behind as we are now.
China and India continue to develop at lightning speed, making them the first and third largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet, respectively. Confronting climate change necessitates holding China and India to similar standards put on the United States and other major emitters like Russia and Japan.
I support moratoriums on ALL fracking, deep-water oil exploration and drilling, and compressor stations/coal plants - not just the development of new ones. I also support holding those companies who inflicted damage on the environment and people in areas that were fracked, drilled and destroyed accountable. I live on the Gulf Coast and know what the BP oil spill did to communities here. But we can't just look at our own back yards - we need international, binding arbitration with developing countries to protect all peoples from the damage caused by these invasive fossil fuel activities
Florida’s panhandle averages between 4.5-6.0 (kWh/sq.m./day) Direct Normal Irradiance annually, which makes the 1st a prime location for solar energy production. Getting and staying out of the affairs of the Middle East, reducing our carbon footprint, and creating energy independence for Floridians should be a top priority, and solar energy is one of many avenues for us to do that. Per kilowatt hour, solar energy is the cheapest energy on the planet. Divesting from fossil fuels into the energy of today makes good business sense - Chevron even knows that, which is why they're a top investor in renewable energy.
Florida's 1st stands to gain more than most places by a robust renewable energy plan. Providing affordable options for solar energy, including low-interest loans, grants, and community planning projects funding would help Florida's residents take control of their energy needs, budgets, and independence.
Florida incentivises solar installation already, but only at 26% reimbursement of cost. A federal program that provides a match for state reimbursement would encourage solar panel installation, use and maintenance, reducing the stress put on energy grids during heat events and securing energy independence.
To see if your home is a good fit for solar panels, click here.
The Green New Deal: In its pursuit of simplicity, the Green New Deal lacks the details needed to ensure that our energy grid won't just go from being run by a handful of fossil-fuel companies... to being run by a handful of green energy companies. We want our people to be energy independent, heavily subsidizing home-based power solutions and passive heating/cooling, water retention projects, re-envisioning of cities to address urban heat island effect, pausing growth or making it heavily regulated (especially in those environments where heavy losses are experienced annually, e.g. flood plains, fire-prone areas, and along coastlines). Perhaps my extensive education and experience in green growth points me toward an unobtainable vision of how much more efficient and fair our world would be with concepts like individual energy ownership mandated in every town, province, and parish, but switching to 100% renewable alone, for me, is the bare minimum of what we should be doing. We could (and should) be doing much more.
Environmental issues inherently intersect infrastructure issues. Whether beach-front roads or aging dams, changing landscapes require increased scrutiny and support for updating aging infrastructure. The costs of not upgrading those structures has been put into sharp focus lately, from the lingering issues brought on by Hurricane Sandy to the condo tower collapse in Surfside, Florida.
Rapid coastal development without the necessary expansion of critical infrastructure continues to create problems across the coast. Republicans and Democrats both agree that clear-cutting wooded areas of barrier islands is not a sustainable practice, yet the GOP "leaders" elected in this area only want to grow bigger as quickly as they can line their pockets and run.
Smart growth entails long-term planning and includes community feedback, green infrastructure elements, habitat preservation, and the infrastructure planning and development necessary to grow our communities safely and without the slash-and-burn/cash-the-checks approach favored by our current representatives.
Southwest Association of American Geographers, Fall 2013.
Association of American Geographers, PaleoEnvironmental Change Speciality Group, Spring 2014