Nihilism and Beanbag Chairs

We’re all doomed. At least, that’s what I and the majority of my classmates thought at the end of our first week in DHM 1101. Sitting in beanbag chairs (which proved to be both comfortable and stylish) we spoke of our inevitable demise at the hands of ourselves and our corporate overlords. Peppered into our discussions about the wicked problems the Earth has faced and continues to face was the sound of occasional laughter as a plush unicorn (whose name I have yet to remember) was tossed about the room to facilitate further discussion. I think this shows that even when faced with impossible challenges humans can find something to be happy about, even if it is just a stuffed unicorn. This warmed my cold, nihilistic heart, and made me look forward to the next time we get to sit in beanbag chairs and throw a stuffed animal around the room. 

Now that I’ve gotten that exposition out of the way, I’ll get to what I’m actually being graded on, which are my major takeaways and my contributions to the learning community. This past week we watched The 11th Hour, and we did a reading on the collapse of Easter Island. I contributed to our Easter Island discussion by pointing out that history repeats itself and humanity has a proclivity to repeat our mistakes and not learn from them. I also pointed out that capitalism is an unsustainable system that causes environmental destruction long-term.  

My major takeaways from this past week is that human greed has been the reason for so many societies collapsing. Our desire for more and more has led to devastating consequences for our environment and for members of our own species. Corporate and individual greed has led to special interests (I.e., oil and gas lobbyists, etc.) and money being prioritized over human lives and the long-term health of our planet. Unfortunately, this greed for more resources was present with the Easter Islanders, and I wonder if they realized the consequences of their actions either too late or were too blinded by greed to care what was happening. Humanity now has an opportunity to change how we consume resources and learn from those before us. This brings me to my next takeaway; humanity as we know it is doomed. Sounds nihilistic right? In order to save ourselves we will have to drastically change the way in which we make and consume resources. Entire countries will have to change their economies in order to meet the standards needed to sustain human life over the next 100-500 years. I don’t think that humanity is up for the task. Our consumerism has blinded us and made us dependent on consuming more and more to feel any happiness. If I were to give it a guess, I think humanity has about two to three generations left (provided a natural disaster doesn’t wipe us out first) before the climate crisis will cause such severe damage to the environment that it will render it uninhabitable for humans.  

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Are we the next Easter Islanders?

For class today, students were asked to read “The Lessons of Easter Island” and take notes of what we thought were some of the important points. Let me first start by saying that I encourage those who have not read this passage, to take the time to read it and relate it back to our world today and reflect on how we may be facing some of the similar problems the islanders were facing back then. Upon arriving to class, we began to discuss the passage and analyze how we may be similar to the islanders and what makes us different from them. We were given a statement and asked to choose a side we supported and to back it up with examples from the passage and the world today. The first statement we were asked was related to the topic as to whether the islanders were destined for failure or if they did it to themselves. I personally choose the side supporting the fact that I believe that everything the islanders went through they did it to themselves and could have definitely done things differently in order to sustain their life longer. I supported this by telling the class that just like our earth today we are given the resources to survive, granted our situations are different and we now possess greater forms of technology then they had, however, when they arrived on the island they saw everything they had and the amount they had. A simple solution could have been to limit the amount of resources they used and that for everything they did use to quickly replace it, in order to avoid taking more than they needed . However, I know what you are thinking, as humans some of us are a little greedy and we are always wanting more to demonstrate our power and wealth, but unlike us the islanders had less than us and knew what they were up against, so there should have been no need to over use their resources when they knew that they were limited. 

The second statement we discussed was about examining how the problems that islanders faced, if they are similar or different to the ones we are facing now. Unlike the first, I choose the side not many agreed with, and that was that I believe that the problems we are facing now are not similar to the islanders. In today’s day we poses more knowledge and understanding to our surroundings that we have the ability to easily make a change. Although I will say that we do share deforestation and damaging the environment with the islanders, however the problems have been dealt with differently and that is what makes us different from them. They faced deforestation because they did it for the purpose of establishing power and dominance through the building of statues, and we are facing these problems because we need them in order to continue growing. Although it is safe to say that we have both hurt the environment, as a human race now we have noticed the problem and are slowly trying to change this.

This assignment helped me to understand how the wicked problems we are facing now are the same as to what generations behind faced and how if a change is not made generations in the future will continue to face to the point where life may no longer be sustained here on earth. A major take away for me and hopefully those who have read this article, is that once we have reached a point where there is absolutely no turning back or fixing the damage we have created, what is next for the human race and will we be able to make a come back or will life just completely end. So although I know we tend to avoid these types of conversations because some of us may think that the problems will solve themselves, it is important to play a role in saving the environment and not just think about ourselves all the time.

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Treat Earth right, she’s the only home we got

This week’s topic was about Wicked problems and how they can cause collapse. In the in class conversation on Thursday, I contributed to the discussion about how different our problems are from that of Easter Island. Our problems today are much greater because of the scale of our problems, our over-consumption of virtually every resource we have and how we rely on our environment more than we did even a few generations ago. In the passage we read about the inhabitants of Easter Island, the main issue they faced was deforestation. Our problems today are worse because we are also dealing with pollution and global warming, alongside our over-consumption of resources.

Before this week I hadn’t really considered how deforestation affects us all. We rely on wood and paper products so often and honestly don’t even realize it. Many building materials are made from wood, and even materials like concrete rely on wood for its formwork. It’s honestly alarming how much we rely on trees in our everyday life. This has led me to do some outside research about alternative building materials in the industry. One of my more interesting finds was using straw bales. This method of construction, while unconventional, is very sustainable. Straw bales have a low amount of embodied energy, and are a good insulator, making it both a sustainable building material and energy efficient. My research has also shown me that we aren’t planting as many trees as we are using. That’s alarming to me because that means that either we as a society don’t care about replenishing trees for future generations, or we aren’t aware of how many trees we are indeed using. If tomorrow, we depleted our forests of trees we would be in trouble.

Building on that thought, I asked myself “what would happen if tomorrow we suddenly ran out of oil”? My conclusion is that the world as we know it would be in chaos. We rely on oil largely for transportation, and without cheap and easy transportation, as a society we would have to live very differently. I feel that if this happened, we would be in a similar situation that the Easter Islanders were in. Food scarcity would be raging, since most people don’t live relatively close to farms, making food hard to come by. I think that wars would also be fought over food and farm land, which is a similar situation the inhabitants faced. There are many correlations between our society and that of the Easter Islanders, but I still feel that we are in worse shape than they were.

The main thing I’ve learned in class over the last week was that our culture needs to change. Our society needs to be more aware of where our waste goes and how we are using our resources. If we continue our trends of using more than we are giving to the earth, we will face collapse.

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We Caused the Collapse

During the first week of class, the discussion was around the basis of collapse around the world. This topic is always terrifying to think about because it feels as if I am in a world that I cannot help, but can only watch the panic as everything gets worse.

We discussed the movie The 11th Hour, which creates a couple of big picture ideas for why the earth is on the verge of collapse. The movie itself was made too long ago for each of the issues to be still relevant in todays society, however, they are bigger than back then, and only growing. It is difficult to hear that the age of industrialization is one of the major cause for our home’s collapse. As far as the way of inventing and discovering ways to improve our society in the ways of technology, we have exceeded those ideas, but with those ideas has created an immense amount of waste, pollution, and destruction. As a child that has had the privilege to grow up with seeing all of these beautiful things occur, I also had to see the world slowly change into what is becoming a tree-less, disaster stricken planet.

Pollution can be a cause of industrialization, but they are also problems all on themselves, too.  With the result of fast fashion being the effects of major amounts of waste, an extreme amount of factory pollution, and even just the chemical pollution of the types of dyes we use is a separate problem all on its own. I would love to say that I am not guilty of any of these issues, yet I have been accustomed to shop for new trends as most everyone in the U.S. Of course,  have learned to majorly cut back, and mainly use second hand, its is still a giant burden on the world, and it can be scary to even think that the worlds collapse can be due to those really cute jeans in the window store.

Deforestation also plays a role in our collapse. As companies continue to use our nature to build homes for our huge population and back the resources we use with those trees, we lose natural habitats that we may no longer get back. The use of our trees, like other resources, will soon end as we excessively use them and this will further drive the world to its sandy barren planet that we will no longer know.

With all of the issues, I fall back to one specific feeling that drives it all: Greed. We are so caught up with the idea of wanting things that everyone else does that it drives everything we do in the world. Big industries plow over trees to build more homes to gain more money which then turns into possessions and bigger bragging rights. Everyone is too obsessed with being of a higher status than they already are that they don’t have the time to step back and see if it is getting them anywhere. If Everyone could simply understand that gaining money and possessions does not qualify as happiness, and the faster we realize and imitate this idea, the faster our home can be saved.

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The End of The World As We Know It

Last week’s topic in my Wicked Problems course was wicked sustainability problems and collapse. In our first class we began to understand what wicked problems were and what makes a problem wicked. We also discussed Easter Island and the crumbling of the civilization that inhabited the island. In class we had opportunities to have class discussions to share our thoughts and opinions, as well as educate each other on topics pertaining to wicked problems. We all participated in an activity where we got to practice arguments and counter-arguments where the topic was the relation between wicked problems in today’s society and Easter Island’s society. 

On the first day of class we were told to talk with our neighbors about possible wicked problems in the world. My partner and I discussed global warming and how it contributes to our world in a negative way. It was interesting to hear what other groups discussed as well. I heard answers like deforestation, climate change, fast fashion, and other interesting answers. 

On the second day of class we participated in a class activity where we were able to pose an argument and have a person with a differing view counter argue said argument. It was a very interesting activity and I enjoyed it. I had never participated in an activity like this before; it was both interesting and nerve-racking. It was so refreshing to watch how quickly people came up with their arguments and counterarguments, especially when they seemed to be well thought out and make a good point. 

Regarding to last week’s topic I was able to contribute my ideas, thoughts, and opinions to the learning community. On the first day of class my partner and I were able to contribute our thoughts on possible wicked problems. My partner and I were able to work together and brainstorm to answer the question asked of us by our professor. I was also able to contribute during the argument and counterargument activity. I am not going to lie, when it was my turn to come up with a counterargument, it was difficult to gather my thoughts to successfully make a good point. I’m going to use that experience as motivation in the future to become better at making arguments and counterarguments.

I had several takeaways from last week’s topic; the major ones were fast fashion,The 11th Hour film, and what we read and discussed on Easter Island. During the first day of class’ discussion on possible wicked problems, a classmate proposed fast fashion as an answer. Until the classmate explained what it was and why it was a wicked problem I was confused on how it related to a wicked problem. The student explained that fast fashion is inexpensive clothing being produced rapidly in response to the latest trends, and that it is a wicked problem because the resources used are usually not recycled or reused and simply discarded into the ocean or any other location where it does harm to the Earth. I had several takeaways from the documentary that we watched in class, The 11th Hour. From the documentary many different scientists, well educated people, and indigenous people spoke about the problems destroying our Earth. They brought up many well known and talked about topics like: the Industrial Revolution, climate change, global warming, deforestation, and multiple other factors that play key roles in the deteriorating state of the Earth. The documentary held back nothing and was very visual with the terrible problems happening in our world. It’s very clear to humans that we are ruining the Earth, but no one can agree on ways to fix it and we are running out of time before the Earth will be completely uninhabitable. Before our second day of class we had to read The Lessons of Easter Island, which focused on the rise and fall of the inhabitants of the Island. Before reading the article I only knew about Easter Island because of the famous Easter Island heads that are placed on the island. From the article I was able to learn about the first inhabitants of the island and their inevitable fate to lack of resources, deforestation, and ultimately death.

From last weeks’ classes I had the chance to both contribute and learn information, thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

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wicked problems part 1

We are always hearing about how the world is gonna end. There are a few main types of ways people try and explain it. Some examples people tell you are christains will most likely tell you about revelation, and another one is climate change. In the first two classes of wicked problems we read, watch, and discuss the various different ways that humans are destroying the world. 

On the first day we watched a movie called the 11th hour. It was made in 2007, but the problems they address in it are still relevant or even bigger of a problem today. Before we divided into the movie we discussed some of the problems we thought were wicked problems. As a class we thought of fast fashion, the meat industry and their wasteful ways, the oil business, deforestation, and more. As we started watching the movie, I tried to notice all those keys points we talked about before hand. The movie went more into depth of what we are doing wrong, how its so hard to be sustainable in the world we live in, some of the major things that are happening to human and the world, and how all these different things are leading to climate change. 

In the movie they emphasized on a few points. The thing that started to show that were are in a crisis are people are getting sick more often, more people are disabled, natural disasters are happening more frequently and are more damaging, the icebergs are melting, the average temperature is rising. What is making it dysfunctional to be sustainable in today’s society are our habits or always wanting more, separating ourselves from nature, and the growing population. Humans are using up all of Earth’s resources. People are also using and producing a lot of greenhouse gasses. Which can get trapped in the ozone and those gases can trap and hold more heat. This is what is warming up the earth and melting the ice bergs. We need to change our ways in order to save the earth.

On Thursday we had a discussion in class about Easter Island. Their economy and way of life crash because they were using to many of their resources. They had to many people on the island for how much area they had. One of the topics in class we talked about was if their situation was similar to us or not. I did not think it was. We have the internet, the size is very different (it is not just the island, it’s the world), and they could have gone back to their main land. There may be some similarities, but it was very different at the same time.

All these different things has opened up my eyes and showed me that we need to change our ways. The world is a gift and we can not just let it die. The first two classes have made me very excited for what is to come. I hope we can fine ways int bettering our lifes to save the earth. 

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Wicked Problems in Our World

During this week’s class session I learned a lot about what is going on in our environment, we were taught about what a wicked problem is and given some examples like deforestation, overpopulation, etc. A wicked problem is something that has no solution, some characteristics of wicked problems are: no endpoint, urgent, irreversible, etc. The movie, The 11th Hour, really opened my eyes to things I didn’t think were going on in our world today. The movie taught me why our trees are so important to the environment and how without them we will have nothing to take CO2 out of the air causing us not to have clean air, and continuing to heat up the ocean. Climate change is the biggest thing we have started and this has caused flooding, tornadoes, fires, and droughts. Global warming is the reason for the arctic melting, and the oceans warming up. It taught me more about the damages of oil industry and the big businesses that are operating them and how they have more power than they should. Asthma has grown more prominent in kids nowadays, because of the fossil fuels. The movie also touched on how many of the species we have in today’s world are going extinct and won’t be around in a couple of years if we continue to keep harming them and our environment.  We read about Easter Island, how the island was discovered, and the rise and fall of the civilization that lived there many years ago, and in some ways we are like them because we are using all our resources up and eventually we are going to run out. Although they had a much smaller population and the size of the island is much smaller than the whole planet, it just goes to show that if we don’t start to make major changes in the way we live our lives and the way we treat the planet then we are going to create a problem that even the most advanced technology can’t fix. In class, I contributed in the game ‘Industrial Chairs,’ by talking about how some people don’t have enough resources to go green and contribute to helping the environment. I liked this exercise a lot because it gave us the opportunity to see other people’s viewpoints and share ours as well and argue our case in a respectful manner. Before this class, I had no idea what a wicked problem was or the sort of problems we have created that are really harming the planet. I am excited to see what the next three weeks are going to teach me and hopefully learn more about what I can do to help save this planet and maybe I can apply some of these things to my life and contribute to helping the earth become a more sustainable earth. I also hope to learn enough so I can go out and teach my friends, family, and strangers about what is going on in the world and help them want to make a change as well.

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