Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

David Karowe

Second Advisor

Steven Kohler


Throughout history, the human species has been able to out-think most major problems facing us, we are amazing animals after all. Humans are the only species proved to have language, consciousness, and culture — all of which came over time with our outstandingly intelligent and adaptable brains. We’ve developed systems to harness the power of earth (minerals), air (wind energy), fire (combustion), and water (irrigation and also hydro energy); and we’ve also invented tools, workarounds, and cycles to overcome biological, physical, and other myriad roadblocks for us. Even thousands and thousands of years ago human beings were manipulating and disturbing their environments; yes we caused anthropologic changes in animal patterns and probably plant distribution back then, however those effects seem minuscule compared to what we started doing after the industrial revolution. The pillaging of coal, oil, and natural gas from beneath our planet’s surface and then selling, shipping, and burning of said unrenewable fuels has damaged the Earth. For a couple of centuries any local community has been able to contribute to global atmospheric pollution, which brings multi-faceted consequences for the entire planet. But this isn’t even the worst part! The worst of it is that until late, lack of urgency and comparatively meager action hasn’t helped slow (not to mention reverse) companies’, or communities’, or countries’ atmospheric impact. This apathy displayed by the human race is unacceptable. As an American I am a lead contributor to this problem.

One problem we haven’t overcome yet manifests as the unescapable consequences only we are to blame for. — As residents of the Earth we have a responsibility to upkeep the planet’s health and to not diminish the health of its other residents as well, at least for the sake of future life and our own posterity. This includes spreading awareness of global climate change and reversing its effects immediately. — Society’s current residential, commercial, and industrial practices threaten the biosphere’s health and ultimately all future life on Earth. When the tripolar states of business, civil society, and government aren’t supporting reversal of this real global threat, the best thing to do is to get active: become involved locally, in as many circles as you can to help spread concern for whatever issue you’re passionate about. Together through community organization we may raise more attention to issues like the impending sequela of anthropogenic climate change. But while we’re not out doing our part together, we can still help make change on an individual basis.

Being an environmentalist, I’ve already edited my routines and habits to minimize electricity waste, use energy efficient options, and always unplug unnecessary appliances, so then I turned to my personal transportation; I figured owning a perfectly good bicycle, being in decent physical shape, and living in a city where I could easily substitute short drives with bike rides constituted a change. How do I transport myself most? via car. Where do I drive to most? either to school or to a friend’s house which is normally located near school. Also, ample (though very unsafe) sidewalks and bike lanes run most of the way, and campus has many bike racks all over the place. — It seems as though cycling will be my next environmental focus, let’s follow this idea a little further.

The initial idea for my thesis came to me one day while I was considering all the changes I could make to how I live in order to benefit the planet greater: I concluded one easy change I could make that would certainly have an impact over time would be to substitute biking into my regular commuting patterns. As I mauled over the idea while actually biking around town, I began exploring finer details like just how much difference can one biker make and expanded on other tangents too. What’s a(the) huge(st) biological/ecological problem humans have yet to solve? Omnipresent climate change! What’s the leading cause of global climate change? Atmospheric pollutants, specifically Green House Gas emissions (GHG), which trap heat rays in a continuous warming cycle. Where are GHG emissions sourced from? From generating electricity mostly, but transportation comes in as a close second, with industry third, followed by commercial & residential, and lastly, agriculture.[1]

*For this project when I mention GHG, if not otherwise stated, I’m focusing on CO2eq emissions for the sake of numbers and consistency. CO2 is by far the most released Green House Gas, and may have many chemical variants of itself added into the biosphere, so I felt the CO2 equivalent ratio (which takes all variations of CO2 and combines them into one balanced number) would be the most consistent unit to measure by.

[1] "Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions." Greenhouse Gas Emissions, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 14 Feb. 2017, Accessed 9 Apr. 2017.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Presentation.Trevor Roberts.pdf (851 kB)
Defense Presentation

Copy of Supplemental Materials.Trevor Roberts.xlsx (1429 kB)
Supplemental Materials