“The Cap of Wicked Problems”

I thought reading 5 did an effective job on informing us about how drastically the climate has changed and how to get the world back on track when it comes to our climate. They really shed light on how our World leaders and Government are really the problem behind us not taking care of our planet better. I never knew that acid rain was such a big hazard in the US. Overall I really liked the information that reading 5 YES columns talked about, I felt really informed. Like, most of the things that we’ve read or talked about in class; The Wicked Problems website goes in more detail about everything that we’ve learned so far. When finding a solution for a wicked problem there’s no template, you can’t have the same answer for every problem. The website just goes more in detail about all the different types of wicked problems we, humans face on this planet. The wicked problems website really is more of a pamphlet that is a good introduction to wicked problems if you never heard of it. It does a really good job at explaining Horst Rittels’ theories on Wicked problems and the complicatedness of social issues. Another point the wicked problems website talked about was the current state scenario and how with any solution to a wicked problem you have to think about the future and what could happen if you used a certain solution for your problem; would it make it worse in the future or would the wicked problem be solved in the future. I think the current state is a great way to determine if your solution is good for the problem or if it’ll make things worse for the future. The one social entrepreneur that does good with the current state is Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is a political and social group that builds power to bring justice, healing and freedom to black people across the global, I feel that the Black Lives Matter group does a really good job at making sure they change what’s going on now. When the Black kids that are growing up now don’t have to go through what we’ve endured and hopefully they’ll be presented with a better life in the future. Just Black Lives Matter is not only a group but a movement to better push all Black people to equal rights; that’s what my wicked problem Racism in Fashion is pushing for but more zeroed in on fashion.

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Ideal vs Realistic

I thought the Wicked Problems website was interesting and insightful. I had never given much thought to the idea of how significant design can be outside of business apart from in art. I like how this approach can make a difference and usually gains momentum from the outside after its launch. An example of this came from the organization “Who gives a crap?”. I really liked the idea behind the product and was mostly drawn to the accessibility of it as I feel like a higher cost is usually attributed to buying everyday things out of the norm. It’s a good cause that is easy to contribute too and I think I’ll be buying from them when I move into a house next year. This class has widened my perspective greatly in terms of sustainability and has inspired me to minimize my use of plastic water bottles. I also seem to see things on sale in stores a little differently, thinking about the entire chain it went through to be in the store.

Unfortunately, despite individual progress with sustainability i’m not sure if society is having progress with sustainability. While I understood and semi agreed with the points made in the cap and trade argument, I was more convinced that it seemed like the most realistic option to moving forward with carbon emissions. It doesn’t seem ideal and definitely looks like it can be exploited in certain ways, but I think that corporations won’t budge without financial incentives with any solution. There definitely is a better solution to carbon emissions even if I don’t know what that really looks like, but I just feel like corporations won’t go through with something that they can’t influence or somewhat control. One can argue that using the current state and future scenarios based on what’s going on should be used as a point of reference for where we move forward. However, I feel like our governments are unfortunately more of the reactive nature instead of the preventive one, a point of reference being how medicine works in the United States. I think if people could see a glimpse of how our world could change they might care more, but too many ignorance is bliss.

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The Truth About Climate Change

Many people in society believe that climate change is a real dilemma the world is facing. However, throughout the reading it was made clear that not everyone has equal opportunities to make better decisions for the planet. People going through poverty are having to participate in unsustainable practices just to keep afloat in this society. The author makes it clear that instead of blaming the victims we need to bring notice to these problems and begin to get them equal opportunities to make the right decisions for our earth. In Leyla’s ted talk she asks whether you would pick a plastic or paper bag, she later explains that paper that neither are good for the environment. However, she always debunks the idea that plastic is better due to the fact paper bags are thicker material and last longer on earth. She also talks about how to make waste into design by reconstructing products into something useful. The waste around the world is not going to leave anytime soon so we should make better use of it while also helping the earth. 

To make our future better society must start using reusable products so we can reach a post-disposable future. If everyone in the world were to use all reusable products, then trash would start to not fill our land and oceans. I am starting to fill my kitchen with all things reusable and getting rid of plastic straws, water bottles, paper/plastic plates, plastic cups, etc.  

Biophilic design is a type of architecture that connects the building with the natural environment. These buildings are aesthetically pleasing and give a fresh vibe compared to regular buildings. The designs include lots of greenery with lighter tan colors and wooden patterns. I personally really love these designs and feel they have become very popular even in regular houses where people have kept succulent plants in their houses for the past couple years. 

Eco-design is a way of designing buildings that are sustainable for the environment. It allows buildings to no longer have negative impacts on the earth. This design technique also keeps customers happy while the earth is kept sustainable! For example, houses can be built with sustainable flooring and a green energy heating system. If more building companies used eco-design for their buildings, then our world could become a better place in one area with little sacrifice. 

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My Wicked Experience

“Green Economics: How We Can Afford to Tackle Climate Change” had some intriguing insights into the climate change issue. It focused on the economics of it all, rather than merely stating that the problem was our fault and so we were the ones who needed to deal with it. It mentions that scientists knew this was going to happen, that they told us, but we didn’t believe them. There are now predictions that things will get worse, but still we refuse to listen. Is it just because we feel that “ignorance is bliss”? Or do we just not want to acknowledge that we need to actually do something if we want to keep living here? We watched a video in class that said that we would need three to five planets in order to keep living in the way that we are now. But we only have one, so what should we do? Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, but instead will just delay and expand the consequences we are facing. That was the main point of this final reading. They talk about how we cannot put a price on emission output in the same way that we can with other things, since we cannot measure it accurately. They go on to talk about the costs of action and inaction, and the political atmosphere that is limiting change. The political figures should be the ones that recognize the problem more than anyone else, but since they don’t want to face possibly losing office over a ‘wrong’ choice to pursue climate restoration, they won’t help. The solution is simple and ties in with the takeaway from the last reading: Change must be started from the top levels of institution in order to make a difference at the bottom. The political level is the uppermost level we have, so that is where the change needs to start.

This week we explored a website focused on wicked problems and their solutions. This website talks a lot about what a wicked problem is and why they are worth solving. I found this website very interesting an informative. I think it’s a great concept because before this class I had no idea what a wicked problem was, and I’m sure most other people don’t know what it is either. This website is very informative and will give people a great understanding of what makes a problem wicked so that they can help to define and solve wicked problems themselves. One thing that really stood out to me about the website was that there were so many different tabs in the table of contents. I know wicked problems are extensive, but the level of research that went into creating this site is extensive. Current state analysis was also discussed in this week’s lecture, and I found this interesting because it seems like it would work to solve wicked problems. Even if it didn’t work to completely solve one problem, it would help to identify what actually needs to be solved. It defines the problem, which is something that is hard to do with wicked problems, and then it classifies the drivers to that problem, both direct and indirect. This would help us to see exactly what is causing the problem to know where to start working. It then tells us to conduct casual chain analysis and assess the impact extent and trends of relevant drivers. This part is interesting to me because it has some experimentation to it. You aren’t just looking at the problem and identifying the pieces, you are actually trying to figure out what is happening at each step of the problem. You break it down to see every little piece that is causing problems in the machine, you don’t just say that it’s broken. This allows you to achieve the next step, which is pinpointing the factors that influence human activities. Looking at each piece more closely allows us to know how we are influenced by the factors of the problem. This is also really important to help us define the problem more specifically, since it allows us to see the factors influencing the problem. The final step in this analysis is identifying the indicators. All these steps together allow us to get a more comprehensive view of our problem and can in the end help us solve it faster and easier. Another thing that really stood out to me in the lecture this week was about scenarios versus visions. Scenarios are plausible futures while visions are desirable and sustainable futures. Both are appealing, but there is one that stands out much as much better than the other. We all have visons for the future. We want these perfect lives where we are rich and famous with a career, but we view scenarios in a very different light. Usually, scenario is used in the phrasing “worst case scenario.” This doesn’t usually let us think in a desirable and sustainable way, which I found very interesting. We seem to have redefined the word to mean something bad, when really it should be something we look forward to. Social entrepreneurship is something that isn’t very common, but something we need more of. Social entrepreneurship is doing business for a social cause, which means doing business in a way that improves the lives of the people connected to that cause. Businesses are not big on helping other people nowadays. The big corporations are focused on being the biggest and the richest, but don’t seem to care how that affects that people that are connected. Social entrepreneurship is just the opposite. They don’t care as much about being the biggest and richest, but instead focus on helping others. This is one of those examples of starting at the top and making change happen from the top down. One social entrepreneur I follow actually made his money through a corporate business. He didn’t start at the top, but instead worked to be where he is now and can now help others through that new status. You have probably heard the name Elon Musk. He is one of the most famous social-entrepreneurs, right up there with Bill Gates. Both use their status and money to help others. They have so much that they can give and have stopped focusing on themselves to selflessly help others. Elon Musk is now helping move the world away from gas powered vehicles with Tesla. He is not doing this to help himself, but is doing it to benefit future generations. This is a solution to a wicked problem, except suddenly we have the means to help minimize it. Tesla is doing just that by popularizing electric cars: solving a wicked problem. Less gas emissions into the atmosphere will equal less climate change and even reversal of that change if the future keeps following their lead.

I knew nothing about wicked problems coming into this class. I had never even heard of them before. I knew that certain problems were harder to solve, but I never really understood why. I know now that wicked problems are so much more complex than ordinary problems. I know that sustainability is key to solving a lot of them. There are so many problems in the world that choosing even one wicked problem to research seemed like a daunting task, but know that I know that it is possible to actually solve these problems, it doesn’t seem quite so arduous. I feel that I have learned so much from this class, and I hope to continue to learn more about the wicked problems facing our world in the future. Because our world is one worth saving, isn’t it?

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Baby Steps to a more Sustainable Lifestyle

There have always been two sides to whether climate change is real. Some believe in it, others don’t. Those who do believe in it try and make conscious decisions on how whether or not it will affect the environment. On the other side though, they don’t try to fix small problems at all. Surprising enough though, the environmental concerns about the environment concern the poor the most. Environmental conservation is a luxury that the poor cannot afford, relating back to the reading of Yes, Taking Sides Environmental Degradation. The poor lives closer to factories which causes effects on health. The reason the poor live close to these factories is because the housing is cheaper by them. They are forced into unsustainable practices, because right now living sustainable is more expensive.

As I came across RILA and went to the sustainability tag, I read through some articles and really learned a lot when it was talking about sustainability and the environment. It talks about how RILA works with lawmakers that range from state, federal and local to teach them how they can make the citizens more sustainable and put laws out there. RILA tries to get companies to be more ethical in factories which is something that is important for me with child labors. In one of my articles, I had read it says that children work 10+ hours a day to only make one dollar, which is truly sad that underdeveloped countries to allow their children to work under such hard conditions without there being a law behind that.

In these past few years, I have been trying to live more sustainably and use multi-use items. Like drinking my water out of a reusable metal water bottle rather than drinking hundreds of plastic water bottles that just end up in landfills. And using metal straws to help save the ocean and marine life that lives in it. As stated in the Post Disposable Design Challenge, there is predicted to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050. By using metal straws and reusable water bottles, we can reverse this effect.

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Change That Everyone Should Get Involved In

The majority of us do think Climate change is a real problem and try to make conscious decisions in regard to the betterment of the plant. But making conscious environmental decisions isn’t always simple, as choosing to use a paper bag instead of a plastic one. It seems in a lot of ways choosing either solution has a negative impact on the environment in some way. In Layla Acarogula’s Ted Talk she addresses this problem. Her solution is through design, using innovative ways to deconstruct and reuse a product. Because the excessive amount of consumption is not going away, and there is a market for this. This week’s reading touched on this as well. Right now we have done very limit to stop greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution. The government could definitely get involved but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen anytime soon with conservatives stopping any change from happening. There is also some challenged to reduce the effects of climate change within a market, and a concern that this will affect the economy in a negative way. However, the cost of preventing climate change is less of the cost of the negative impacts of climate change. 

A post disposable future could be the way of making a great change with climate change. But what is it? A post disposable future is a movement that involves all of us. We change our expectations, desires, and choices, and the services that we use in our lives. Because the overwhelming majority demands a change and changes their actions. It’s the only way business models will change their practices because the consumer holds the power. ANd they will change their business model in order to keep having consumers. If change then happens in a market I think governmental changes would soon follow. It’s not easy to change habits but the repercussions are too high. I will start making changes in my life to reduce my carbon footprint and the waste that I create.

I think Biophilic design is an awesome use of architecture. Biophilic design is a “green-building trend”. It connects both the natural environment to our built architectural environment. This done using natural materials, and spatial design. Not only is it a better use of space for the environment, but is also aesthetically pleasing as well. Biophilic is designed an eco-friendly design.

The point of an eco-design is a waste-free circuit. It minimizes a product’s negative impact, with factoring in environmental concerns for the prevention of pollution.  It’s all about manufacturing a sustainable product while still satisfying the consumer. If more companies used this business model there would be a significant positive sustainable impact on our environment.

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The Poor Stuff

According to Opschoor in “Is Poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation?” environmental degradation can be both a cause and a result of poverty, I disagree. But Opschoor points out that reasons for poverty can be found at every level in society, from a single person to globally. I agree with Opschoor’s that poverty is the result of an inability of people to gain access to life-sustaining assets. In contrast, others are capable of securing the conditions for stable and productive lives. What prevents people from accessing the support needed to better the situation? During the Ted talk by Leyla Acarolgu, Acarolgu talks about the never-ending debate about paper or plastic. I was shocked by the claim that plastic is a better use than paper because of the amount of paper required to make a bag that can hold goods. I’m not too fond of plastic bags; they always break. Acarolgu also noted that the waste in food is 40%. I found that figure crazy. I wonder what amount of food waste is in stores and restaurants. A post-disposable future means a world without waste. Hopefully, there will be an excellent place to get rid of plastic bags or some good ideas on repurposing them effectively. Finally, the textile industry generates a lot of trash. The trash contribution is pre-and post-consumer. The trend of fast fashion is causing an increase in the fabric in landfills. 

Zero waste is a worthy goal to strive for, but I’m sure it will be hard to achieve due to its construction. Upcycling, repurpose, reuse and recycle of fashion to keep the textiles out of the landfill. 

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Contentment and Waste Reduction

When it comes to sustainability and to the conservation of a natural environment, there is often an overwhelming number of factors to consider. But one that is most telling, or most convincing, is money. Impoverished countries will exploit their own environment to the fullest extent if a profit larger than what they’re already making with resources native to their environment is offered to them. We see this over and over in society today. Richer, more consumer-minded countries will raise demand for a product overseas and, by the power of the invisible hand, these resources will be extracted and distributed for profit. This, of course, doesn’t leave our more vulnerable communities to blame. Anyone would do the same if it means making a profit. What is to blame is the materialistic frameworks that drive it. The invisible hand that convinces poor, resource-drained countries to tear down what environment they have to create more farmland or manufacturing sites is the demand for products that we couldn’t be bothered to make for ourselves. The world is rich if we allow it to be, but the more that we take, the more waste we put back into it, and the more of it that we remove in order to produce what we already have, is going to and has already taken its toll. 

Our reading sought to answer a question considering whether or not poverty was responsible for environmental degradation, and I think this is an extremely unfair question because if it weren’t for the excessive demand of rich countries, there would be no need in the first place. It’s amazing to me to see how the more we have, the more we want, and the more industry tells us we need when those needs have been met from the beginning. Instead of buying into materialism, or trying to pass blame for the state of our environments, it’s become  increasingly imperative that we are able to find contentment in what’s already here. The ability to use what we already have to its absolute fullest potential is a leading component in the movement toward a post disposable society. Maintaining an item’s value after its initial use is a vital step to reducing waste, and something we are all well capable of. Leyla Acaroglu raises a very interesting perspective regarding her ideas for a post disposable society. As far-fetched as it seems to begin eliminating single-use products, it’s not entirely out of reach. She proposes that we have the power to minimize waste through thoughtful design. When products are designed to minimize waste, demand will decrease simultaneously. 

Not only does design affect the way we interact with the environment, it also influences the way that we experience it. Biophilic design seeks to connect the user with the natural, local environment. Introducing the organic environment into built spaces has the ability to reshape the way society approaches conservation. Rather than existing individually and placing the built, developed society above the natural, biophilic design integrates the two and allows one to acknowledge our coexistence. This is crucial for molding a new mindset around conservation.

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Energy to Change the World

               Wicked problems like the unsettling correlation between poverty and environmental degradation can mitigate and, income cases, resolved when the problem itself is reassessed. By looking at the statistical and logical implications of a problem those implications can be targeted like symptoms and move towards remedying those symptoms. Treating the results of wicked problems as symptoms will require those committed to solving the problem to be bold and honest without placing blame on a scapegoat group or figurehead can begin to help break the problem down. This strategy may also allow for two birds to be killed with one stone (not to advocate for bird genocide), making sure the original problem is firmly put to rest. In the words of James Madison in the stage play Hamilton, “maybe we can solve one problem with another”, compounding the incentives of an environmentally positive solution. In the case of poverty as a cause of environmental degradation, providing jobs for the impoverished focused on improving the environment can increase their awareness on the subject, add to their available income, and improve the communities they live in. The efficiency of solving one problem with another is greater than solving two problems and maximizes the energy of our efforts.

               Biophilic design has huge potential in moving the agenda of energy and material conservation forward. At the most basic level, nature has survived for hundreds of thousands of years with similar designs and processes that have adapted to many geographies over dozens of geologic time periods. Obviously, they must be doing something right. The natural biological patterns we live in and came from may provide many answers to our most complex design problems. Nature has innovative processes and patterns that should be capitalized on for environmental and economic benefit when they are adopted into convenient design solutions. From an architectural standpoint, the triangle is the premier structural tool for its proportionally, nature takes this to builds on the idea of proportionality to create strength. The repetition and proportionality of a spider web can withstand projectile insects, the force of wind and interference of other species. Webs have long been the metaphor for disorganization and overcomplexity; however, they are simple tools nature has utilized to accomplish the simple problem of catching food. This product of the lowly spider is adapted over multiple geographies, while different species have varying “brands” of the product. Biological design such as the spider web hold great architectural potential in building design, construction, and composition of materials. Not only do the ideas of biophilic design provide structural and environmental efficiency, they also possess a valuable aesthetic when used correctly. Architects such as Fay Jones continue to explore this relationship between the environment and our place in it. The Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas designed by Jones, illustrates an effective example of these stipulations.

               In a way, these abstract solutions to multiple problems can be seen as a design problem. Leyla Acaroglu advocates that design is the answer to many environmental problems. Because society is hyper-focused on convenience, the redesign of everyday products to be environmentally conscious can lead to a brighter future. Strategic environmental design will trump “green materials” products. By making it inconvenient to be harmful to the world around us through design, we begin to chip away at our negative impact. Taking this further, design research on products of consumption may also be an answer to lowering human impact through the products we use. The idea behind products of consumption is to close the loop of waste. This is directly related to the notion of a post-disposable future. I believe society has a lot of room to improve by moving towards a less cluttered future. Now, according to the Law of Conservation of Energy it is physically impossible to reuse and item or material an infinite number of times, however by reusing a specific material just once lessens the waste related to that product by 50 percent! If every product were able to be broken down and the material reused to become another product the amount of global waste would be cut in half. On that note, the idea of a post-disposable future may be slightly idealistic, but that does not mean we should give up on improvement. By definition, a wicked problem has no clear ending. Therefore, there is infinite amount of improvement to be made.

               Many small changes can add up to a big difference. My high school Cross Country coach focused on making us the best runner we could be by making us the best people. He focused on our form, diet, and social exposure to take half-seconds off our times. The direct approach of “get faster by running more” was one-upped by our miniscule incremental changes that added up to a conference victory.

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Paper or Plastic?

Paper or plastic? A common question that is asked in grocery stores. If I forgot my reusable bags, I would ask for paper because, in my mind, the paper was better for the environment. However, after watching Leyla’s TedTalk, I realized that paper is not the way to go. Plastic is. Growing up, I was always told that plastic is terrible for the environment and avoids it in the ways we can. They would show us the floating trash island in the ocean and pictures of sea turtles mistaking the plastic bag for a jellyfish. So it was safe to say that I was conditioned to avoid plastic to save the sea turtles growing up. After watching Leyla’s talk, I was shocked to see the valid points of why choosing a heavy paper bag is worse than plastic. Paper is heavy and will cause more damage on and off the land than plastic does. There she challenged us to make the switch and focus on bettering our environment. 

After watching, I realized that there might be a lot that I am missing when it comes to helping the environment. I spent some time on the RILA (Retail Industry Leader Association) website and combed through the many portals of what I can do to better the environment. After clicking on the website, the first thing I saw was a tab for sustainability. Once I clicked on the tab, I was brought to another page that gave a complete overview of sustainability and its importance in retail. It also gave quick links to other articles that detailed the effects of sustainability in retail—exploring these tabs has informed me how to be sustainable and how the rest of the industries have started their journeys to be more sustainable. 

Sustainability has been a wicked problem for a while now. Many companies are trying to make the change, but there are still outstanding problems affected by this wicked problem. Poverty is one of the controversial topics for an outstanding problem developed from the wicked sustainable problem. On one side, some believe that poverty is responsible for degradation, and on the other side, it is believed that environmental degradation is not responsible for poverty. At first glance, I believed that poverty is not responsible for the environmental decline. However, after reading the article, both sides made valid points. I can see why this leg of the sustainable problem is such a controversial one. It is hard to decipher which weighs more. It is impossible to decide which problem is “more” significant. People in poverty do not have the time to focus on sustainable problems when providing for their families. However, many industries do not even offer people in poverty a sustainable problem. It is relatively easy to see how this problem can go in circles and have a tough time solving it. 

In the end, we all must make a conscious effort to live a more sustainable life. If you forget to bring your reusable bags, don’t take the paper bags as a substitute. Poverty is a big problem, regardless if it comes from environmental degradation or not. We must make efforts to fix all the problems. Visit RILA if you want to get more involved in making the world a better place, or visit the website if you still have questions that need answering.

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