Thursday, August 15, 2019

In Pursuit of Significance

Hi friends. For those who know The Reluctant Cyclist, I am back! If you are a new friend, welcome to my world of cycling, camaraderie, cohorts, life, and comedy. I am writing this blog as more of a reintroduction than anything because I have been absent of late, in pursuit of significance. Rewind to the summer of 2017, when I had decided to embark on a graduate degree in conservation biology and advanced inquiry. Not the typical program you would expect to find a lifelong professional of manufacturing and asset management, but I like to think of myself as an avid learner & adventurer, and this program fit the bill.

While you may think I have abandoned cycling by the lack of published rides and commentary, to the contrary, cycling holds a much deeper meaning to me now. Allow me to explain my connection between car-lessness, urban biodiversity, conservation biology, and significance through some excerpts from my graduate research.
I attempted to make a behavioral change in my travel habits to affect my carbon footprint.

This life change project to reduce my CO2 emissions brought me to the realization that it is very difficult to use alternate modes of transportation in an urban neighborhood, and specifically, in Cincinnati. Even so, I reduced my emissions by carpooling, combining trips, and simply by planning my trips. As a result of a change in my behavior, I conclude it is possible for a person to lower their CO2 emissions. However, to effectively reduce pollution in South Fairmount, more residents of the neighborhood and surrounding areas would have to be willing to plan smarter use of their vehicles. 

However, current infrastructure of the neighborhood makes car ownership very desirable due to the hardships I experienced when cycling or using public transportation. 

The  proliferation of car-centric geographies continue even though the practice is unsustainable (Sattlegger & Rau, 2016). Throughout the 20th century the growth of car ownership and use outpaced other sources of CO2 emissions and currently vehicular mobility is a fundamental requirement in developed countries, one that will be very difficult to turn around (Sattlegger & Rau, 2016).
I confronted the relationship between epigenetic inheritance and environmental justice

One of the environmental burdens placed on urban residents is the exposure to greenhouse gasses emitted by the transportation sector. My neighborhood is no exception as it is located between the suburbs of Cincinnati and the downtown and uptown business core with interstates on two sides and the railyard on the eastern boundary.

Society tends to address a new science with old ideas. To that end, there is the risk that treating the symptoms, such as behavioral issues, obesity, or diabetes with clinical solutions may garner more support than addressing the xenobiotic exposure cause (Rothstein, Harrell, & Marchant, 2017). Acknowledging epigenetic inheritance and transgenerational traits based on one’s environment opens the door to new ways to address human evolution and adaptation (Wang, Liu, & Sun, 2017)

I planted an urban pollinator garden and provided nesting spots for solitary, native bees.

Pollination is an ecoservice. Flowers are planted in an effort to restore the populations of pollinators, which, in turn, restore the pollination service to plants. This is important because almost 90% of plants, including agricultural crops, reproduce via pollination by animals (Winfree, 2010).  It has become increasingly urgent that we find ways to supplement the natural habitat of pollinators as those spaces become scarcer and detached.

This is crucial in the current political environment of the United States as leaders gut regulations that were put into place to preserve pollinators and to protect us from exposure to hazardous materials. (Reread the part about epigenetics). We cannot rely solely on scientists to restore pollinator populations. Individuals can plant and manage pollinator gardens, nesting sites, and woodlands for foraging to encourage growth. Even small gardens in urban neighborhoods can improve pollination services.

Check back for more entries as I continue my immersion studies of the role of people on this planet and the interconnectedness of species.


Rothstein, M.A., Harrell, H.L., Marchant, G.E., (2017). Transgenerational epigenetics and environmental justice. Environmental Epigenetics, 1-12

Sattlegger, L., & Rau, H. (2016). Carlessness in a car‐centric world: A reconstructive approach to qualitative mobility biographies research. Journal of Transport Geography, 53, 22–31.

Wang, Y., Liu, H., & Sun, z., (2017).  Lamark rises from his grave: parental environment-induced epigenetic inheritance in model organisms and humans. Biological Reviews,  92(4), 2084-2111.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I am interested in your thoughts. Please Share.