What Do You Get When You Mix Not Being Able To Speak with Easter Island?

This week had to have been one of the most painful weeks of the semester for me. Last weekend I started feeling under the weather and noticed I had white spots on the back of my throat so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. I was expecting that I had strep but was not happy to find out that I had coxsackievirus, a virus that affects the mouth/hands/feet and creates painful sores that appear all over infected areas. For me this meant that for Wicked Problems this week, not only did I look like I had contracted a vaguely familiar STI, but I would also not be able to contribute vocally to class discussion. This ended up giving me a new perspective that I would have never had as I had to write my thoughts as class discussed the topics at hand. It allowed me to be more thoughtful and really dig into what I thought before I typed.

Our reading this week was over Easter Island and how it functioned as a warning and parable for humanity’s future today. The passage discussed the previous inhabitants as well as the mysterious statue heads found all over the island. The most common story of their origins tells of Polynesian voyagers finding the island and colonizing it in the tradition that they had for many many other islands in the Pacific Sea. Once they arrived at Easter Island, the biodiversity was extremely low and the temperature was very hot. This was not what the Polynesians were used to due to the tropical areas where they originate. The only feasible crop that they could cultivate were sweet potatoes and they farmed chickens. This was not a very demanding task so it allowed the villagers to spend more time on recreation and spirituality. It is then that they discovered how to make ceremonial statues for their religious practices such as the Easter island relics seen today. These statues were very heavy and in order to move them, the villagers had to start cutting down many if not all of the trees available which put the small ecosystem of the island into turmoil which led to the islanders demise.

 As a class exercise we were split into groups and then asked to identify some of the Wicked Problems faced by the people of Easter Island. Many people came to the same consensus that the first problem that the islanders faced was the massive lack of biodiversity. With a lack of resources and an unfamiliar climate, this village had a large existential problem with no clear solution. This was then heightened to a point of no return when the islanders resorted to mass deforestation in order to erect their grand and extremely innovative monuments. These very few trees were essential to the environment due to the fact that not only did they provide shelter and shade but they were the root system that kept the soil in place. Without the trees, the soil loosened and began the initial process of desertification. This made farming practices nearly impossible and the village began to starve. As our group contemplated the bigger life lessons and application today of this Wicked Problem, we see that deforestation is still a large problem today. It is such a large problem not due to modern society craving the need for large statues but a variety of things. In my major, Architecture, this can be applied to buildings. We strive for them to be grand but don’t always account for the massive amount of resources it takes to get said buildings. By learning to not only take from the environment but also compensate for said resources being taken, we can erase much of the damage caused by deforestation.

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Behind The Curtain

“The internet has smuggled in isolation in the guise of communication.” This is a quote from one of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow (@aredotna). This quote has stood out to me because of its relevance in my life. I have grown up in the age of communication and information. I can attend classes online while in my pjs and add to discussion boards without opening my mouth. I have endless possibilities at the swipe of a finger. I have infinite amounts of information and communication in my pocket. My first takeaway from the material I’ve absorbed so far is that I do not use my access to information and communication wisely. I spend hours taking selfies or scrolling through Instagram. I am mindful of how much time I spend on my phone and still I am wasting so much time. I think how much time we spend gathering useless information is a wicked problem of its own. I am able to ignore all of the wicked problems we have identified in class because I am consumed by consuming. Watching 11th Hour has really opened my eyes to how vast the problems that loom behind the curtain of consumption are. We do not pay the real cost when we pay our electric bills or when we purchase a tank of gas.

 We have become so disconnected with nature. We use nature like it is a play thing. In reality, the natural order will be our demise. The mindfulness of other students in our class has helped me see where I need to step in. I have been taking more walks lately, despite the cold weather. Nature is here to be appreciated. We must not take it for granted. I truly believe that the universe will provide just enough for us if we let it. I have been able to slow down a lot more lately. Being a vegetarian is even more important to me than it was before this class started. I have been doing more research on things like the meat industry and seeing how consumption culture has truly affected the Earth. 

Another takeaway that I have learned from speaking to my classmates is that I lack a foundation in my community. I was planted in my community and that is where I must bloom. My classmates offered insightful thoughts about how to solve problems in the world. Everyone has different experiences and thus new things to add to every conversation. It is hard sometimes because it feels so safe to communicate online and so scary to talk to people in real time. This is something I want to work on so I can understand my classmates, my community, and others in general. I have been digging deep into myself and why I choose to communicate online so much when real people stand next to me. I think it is because online everyone is projecting someone they want to be or someone they think they are. It is easy to find people who line up with who I think I am online. When I am faced with real life communication, I find that I am more like those who live in my area than those who live in places I wish I did. Connection is supposed to be slow. It is supposed to be daunting. This class has been so helpful to me already. I am more self-aware. I am more aware of every thought I carry on in myself. I am aware of how I affect others in my community. I am more aware of the true cost I pay when I consume anything I did not create myself. 

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Eye Opener

After the  first week of attending the the Wicked problems class I have learned a lot of things about the world that I was unaware of  such as how climate change started, how cars are really hurting the earth, deforestation, and how we are Using the earth’s resources as we need them even though doing that may lead to our demise. The thing that stuck out to me the most was how little I knew about the problems in the world and problems with the world in the past such as the destruction of Easter island due to the island’s resources being used up very quickly. The movie, The 11th hour also opened my eyes to problems such as climate change, and the rapid use of the world’s resources. To be quite frank I used to not believe in climate change, and other problems because the people in my life, such as my family and friends, don’t  believe that climate change is a real problem happening in the world today. Their argument is that scientists cannot have any idea if this is maybe just a pattern the earth follows throughout its history because humans haven’t been around as long as the earth. In the 11th hour I was presented with real evidence that the climate is changing because of the way we are treating the earth. A specific piece of evidence that resonated with me is that the polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. Another piece of evidence that is not in the movie but is happening right now is the fires in California. Another problem that stuck out to me is the deforestation that is happening in South America and the rest of the world. As we learned in class, deforestation was also a huge factor as to why Easter island fell into shambles. The people living on Easter Island used the  wood from the trees on the island  for everything including transporting stones, and building boats. The people ended up using all of the wood stranding themselves on the island and from there they went extinct because they used up what was left of the islands resources and had to resort to cannibalism to survive just a little bit longer. So far I am very interested in learning more about the worlds problems first because I was not aware they were such big problems and second because I want to learn what we as individuals can do to make a difference, and I want to learn what we can do as a whole to hopefully make the world a better place to live in in the future.

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Environmenigans shenanigans

The topic of discussion for these past two weeks has centered around environmentalism, specifically the global environmental crises we are now experiencing today. To my understanding, environmentalism is a perfect example of a truly wicked problem, because many problems that arise with the collapsing global ecosystem exhibit most of if not all the identifying elements of a wicked problem. To clarify, there are six elements of a wicked problem, many of which coincide with each other. The elements of a wicked problem are as follows:

  1. There are variable definitions of the problem at hand.
  2. There are variable solutions to the problem.
  3. There is no specific end point to solving a problem.
  4. Solutions likely create irreversible effects.
  5. Solutions to the problem need unique approaches.
  6. Action must be taken as quickly as possible.
    So, let’s narrow the large umbrella of environmental concerns to a more specific example, Global Warming. To begin, even though more and more people are understanding that the world warming up by even a few degrees could have disastrous consequences, there is still a vocal minority of people who either do not believe that global warming exists, or that it is as detrimental as it is to the environment. There are people who are of the opinion that since global warming is a natural occurrence, that it has happened long before the rise of human society, that it is just a part of nature and therefore we shouldn’t be as concerned as we are with it. In addition, nobody really knows for certain how to go about ending this crisis, there is not any one solution that will immediately solve this problem. We could just make driving illegal, but that would be catastrophic to the global economy and many people would be out of a job and no longer would be able to go to work or attend school. We could work together to improve public transportation around the world, but public transit is costly to establish and maintain, and poorer countries or countries with already poor infrastructure would not be able to easily adapt to this model. As is evident with the current global pandemic, while many people have been able to successfully work from home, for much of the world’s population working remotely simply isn’t an option. More concerning than all this though is the terrifying reality that if nothing is done, or if not enough is done to stop or reverse global warming, then the world will continue to heat up and life as we know it may drastically change for good.
    Bringing focus back to the assignment, I definitely think I learned a lot this week in regard to the dilemmas of sustainability and collapse. While in class I tried my best to actively contribute to the topics being discussed and made a point to say something in the zoom chat when it was inappropriate for me to speak out loud. The first step to finding most solutions is to start a conversation, or to contribute to one that is already in progress. To give a good example of this, much of our class time this week was spent discussing the collapse of Easter Island.
    In a nutshell, Easter Island was small and could only afford to sustain a handful of species before any human set foot on it. When Polynesian sailors established settlements on the island, the already struggling ecosystem could not sustain its growing population. Clans were established around the island, their society continuing to grow and expand seemingly without end, and as a show of status, enormous stone heads were created and rolled across the island on tree trunks so each clan could show off to each other. Each time a head was created, trees were chopped down to transport them. This continued until the last tree was cut down, and by then the few nutrients in the soil had been completely drained. Unable to grow crops on the now barren island, clans waged wars competing for the few remaining resources, and ultimately resorted to cannibalism. The few remaining islanders were captured and sold into slavery, leaving historians at the time scratching their heads as to what exactly happened to make such a huge and seemingly thriving society collapse so violently.
    I think that my biggest takeaway from the collapse of Easter Island is that had the islanders left to find another island or place to inhabit, they might have survived. The island simply could not sustain them, and despite their lack of ecological knowledge they should have known better than to inhabit a place that could not sustain them without being drained of its resources. I noticed a common trend among the class’s responses, there was disagreement about whether or not the islanders were doomed from the start or if they could have turned things around if they had given it an honest effort. I don’t think that the Easter Islanders could have stopped what they started, no matter how hard they tried, but I also realize that the collapse of its environment is an isolated incident, and a lesson in what might happen around the world if we don’t all work together to find a solution quickly. No other animal on Earth has been able to create a society as vast and complex as the one we have made, and that has its consequences.
    If nothing else, everything I’ve learned this week has taught me that change has to start with us. We must be the ones to take initiative and make the necessary changes in our lives. These changes might be small things, like avoiding long road trips, carpooling, using reusable or paper-based straws, and recycling wherever possible, but these small things all add up. One person can influence another, and another, and another, until it becomes a social norm. We can’t change societal problems overnight, and we can’t control another person’s thoughts or actions, but we can influence them through our own choices and actions.

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Become A Problem Solver and Solve Problems!

This course has been very fun to learn so far. I’ve had such a great time learning about my friends and being able to meet my new classmates for the last bit to the semester. I have also learned a lot about the different and rapid growing topics within our discussion groups. The hardest thing to really take in is that it’s all a very real dispute how sad it is. Like the melting of the poles due to climate change is saddening to me since polar bears are my favorite animal and that i very much love the animals that could live in very cold conditions. The deforestation of some areas around the world is continuing and the effects hurt wildlife the most. Even with our knowledge of the harm to the environment , people aren’t taking that fact into concise reactions and eventually we’ll have to pay the price. The 11th hour has such great points that are almost obvious but doesn’t seem crucial of a fact to even care about. The resources that we have are LIMITED and there should be alternatives that we should be converting to but sadly we aren’t. Just like Easter Island, the islanders had no idea the trouble they were going to run into because they were so occupied of the NOW instead of the future plan. It makes me feel disappointed to know how little we appreciate the many resources we have available. I’m sure the rest of my classmates also feel the same since our comments on the different in-class activities overlap. The breakout rooms really helped with brainstorming and focusing on the issue at hand. The different questions that we discussed over the Easter Island reading and homework allowed us to dig deeper into the topic of what could have happened and what should have happened. I liked specifically the “what were the lessons” because they were straight forward but not for islanders who didn’t expect such an unfortunate situation to occur. It’s the resources and how they used them that really became the downfall of the Island. I also believe in a great solution and I felt like they could’ve had a chance to survive. They just have to brainstorm a lot to really achieve a thriving civilization. That perspective of Easter Island has made me think about the world in general. The availability of what we have now in the world is limited so I wonder what our next move will be once that time comes of “running out”. Are we seeking alternative solutions or are we going to lose hope in the near future? It’s very scary to think about but we can only hope to act as soon as possible and not have to worry later at the most crucial time. It’s important to stay on top of things and it’s only the last hope when we realize how late it is to fix a certain problem when it comes near. We never know what could happen. 

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Wicked problems and good solutions

   Wicked problem are a popular problem in the whole world. Many countries suffering from this problem.  There are a lot of wicked problems we are facing around the world for example,  pollution, overfishing, lack of water and lack of food. In our class we have discussed about all of these. All of the solutions we have found will take long time to سخ the solutions we have found will take long time to solve them. People have to change their mind and think seriously about all of wicked problems. They are really have huge risk for people, animals, planets and air. Pollution can cause many diseases for people such as cancer and death. Each of our classmate discussed different problem but all of them are wicked. Wicked means that it is very hard to solve and it will take long time to be solved. We are giving some solutions and we hope that they can be apply as soon as possible. Air pollution is the most popular wicked problem in these days. Car fumes, cutting trees, sea rubbish and steamers smoke are main reasons for pollution and specifically air pollution. I am one of people who have asthma and I always feel tired and cannot breath well. Asthma is one of illness which is a result of solution. Lack of pure and clean water is what we are facing this time. This wicked problem is more popular in lakes and islands. According to the Easter island there is a lack of food also. People cannot live good without pure water and good source of food. Also, I have seen the 11th hour movie. It showed a lot of huge wicked problems and there are a lot of ideas. They said that more heat and climate change are problems and we are very late to solve all of the problems. Human mind and brain have to be changed to help the nature. Weather, climate , terable drought, climate change how fast it change how it could impact. Global warming, danger of temperature and chemicals effect could affect the nature in very bad way. When people build up they trap extra heat. We lose control of climate. There is a living system. We have to take car of condition of soils , ocean and water. We really should provide basics for all life. Air pollution has serious and risky impacts and asthma is one of them. There is no away not just asthma. People have to teach their child and future generation childhood behaviors. The community’s dead are most impacted by pollution. Food is becoming poised and the water became more unhealthy. Deforestation, cutting trees and destroy forest are produced many risks to the whole world and specifically nature. Public opinion, public policy and government have to understand everything about global warming. There is a harmony between people and nature. Nature has rights. We have not to rely on global economic system because economy will not set up for grow and displaces biosphere. Moreover, technology is playing a big role these days but we should not rely on it because technology will not do what the nature could do for us. In the past months in United States, air pollution increased and spread to multi states and areas, which affected  millions of people’s health. In the end, we have to protect our nature and try not to destroy it.

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Happy Easter!

During this week’s discussion we focused mainly on the collapse of Easter Island and ways the island is similar to the environmental issues found in the documentary, The 11th Hour. On Easter Island there was little to no civilization; the people weren’t advanced, not many crops or animals to survive but in the beginning they were able to make it work. Over time more people came therefore homes, crops, animals, statues (for religious purposes), needed to be built. On top of the need for more resources, there were also two different clans of people on the island in a continuous fight for power. This led to division and ultimately the collapse of Easter Island. When in class, we broke off in breakout rooms and discussed major points when their civilization started to deteriorate. As a group we decided that this happened due to the overall misuse of resources, added with deforestation, overpopulation, and internal warfare. These are issues that were discussed in the documentary; deforestation being one of the largest issues. What I contributed to the class was that, continuing to build isn’t intentional, yet it is harmful. The need for building is due to the continual growth of humanity. More people, more businesses/corporations, schools, religions, etc., the more we build up the community. If we continue with this pattern, no matter the reason, it eliminates trees and land leaving less room for nature, our very reason for being able to live. In the documentary, The 11th Hour discussed this as well. Based on the video, there is a separation of human and nature. Humans aren’t connected to nature, so there is the belief that what effects nature doesn’t affect us which is false. This imbalance is the cause to global warming, pollution, energy consumption, land exploitation, and food waste.  

After discussing the topic of Easter Island in class, I learned a lot about us as a people. There were parallels between our people, Americans, and the Polynesians on the island: that parallel is Capitalism. We discussed throwaway culture which is the idea that overconsumption is normal, and products are disposable when they can and should be recycled. Although the Polynesians didn’t have an economy per se, they mimicked a capitalist nature. The Polynesians were divided by clans, the search for power, trade of crops and animals, competition between competitors, all of which is similar in America. They were overcompensating, reducing their resources, to try and achieve the unachievable. If we continue to with “throwaway culture” or capitalist ideologies we’ll run out of resources, we’ll be constantly trying build up an economy while it’s been torn down at the same time. We’re a country that thrives on exponential growth, but we don’t possess enough assets to provide for the constantly growing population. I believe as a country it’s important for us to take events such as Easter Island as an example of what can happen, what we can do to prevent such things from happening and prepare ourselves. The downfall of our country is not inevitable if we took nature just as serious as we take capitalism. In order to see change, we must be the change.  

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A Contract With Reality: Possibly Just Insane Ramblings

Upon finishing our reading on the rise and fall of the Easter Islanders I was reminded of a concept that has plagued me for some time now. I found the Islanders constant production of statutes for prestige and projection of power familiar. Progress is a word that is thrown around as if it in itself is good, however progress is a relative term. Progress references a present we know in the future we desire.

This can create a systemic form of thinking. These patterns of thought are not inherently evil but they are dangerous if left unchecked. The reason it must constantly be checked is that human beings are dynamic creatures. We can perceive abstract concepts but are also still a type of animal. 

There are several schools of thought across the spectrum that fall under this banner of systemic thinking. While I cannot be certain it would make sense that this modality has existed throughout antiquity. So, I can only imagine the conversations and arguments had over the statutes constructed on Easter Island. Those who recognized the hubris of his people must have felt the same frustration that a Roman had seeing his army crushed by Hannibal or a British soldier as being sieged by the Americans at Yorktown. The thought of being invisible in your identity and reality asserting itself over your perception.

Systemic thinking is often materialistic. Meaning that it only concerns itself with what is objectively measurable. A way to tell this is that there is no delineation between fact and truth. While I cannot expect everyone to agree with me in my observations it is not a stretch to say that there are immeasurable things that are REAL. 

Most of the wicked problems that I have seen revolve around issues of reality and perception. The problem seems simple enough: observe reality and then come to a conclusion. This works great for concrete realities. The problem takes on another form when dealing with abstract reality. 

The immeasurability of the abstract is what makes it so hard to deal with. It simply is down to perception, but it is still objective and just as real. Our social constructs, whatever they may be, matter to us and our relationships. When a norm is subverted the victim of this subversion is left demoralized. Upon this demoralization self hate begins followed by hated for others which leading to crisis.

So, how does one avoid such subversion? This is what has made me sweat for months, but after reading about the Easter Islanders it hit me. Every action is a contract between you and reality. If you attempt to break the rules you will pay dearly. Be mindfull of your wants and desire otherwise reality may consume you.

This brings us back to progress and systemic thinking. Progress is nessary for our own survival, however progress without understanding of our relationship to reality is foolish. Systemic thinking can be a wonderful tool in the pursuit of a material goal, however the immaterial matters just as much. As they cut their trees down to erect their idols  will we destroy our bonds to pursue some psychotic form of perfection? The answer lies in the hearts of men just as the line between good and evil does. We cannot and ought not change another person through for less we feel the teeth of reality. The only change that can be made is through individuals being virtuous show others the way.

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Is there a solution to every problem?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t yet contributed to the learning community yet, I haven’t found time nor have I found something to do yet. But this does not mean I don’t want to! I actually really hope to get connected with the Stillwater community! Anything from picking up trash, helping the elderly, or doing my part to stop deforestation. Well this wasn’t because I didn’t have the chance but because I was definitely worried, I was going to be wrong about it. I wanted to ask a few questions about the characteristics we went over and what examples some of them could be. Like about characteristic number six, could the oil spill have been an example of that? My group talked about some interesting perspective of things, something I said was how they should have expanded their resources when they expanded their population. Something they should have done at the beginning; they might not have gotten a whole lot farther but who knows. My peers in my group had a lot of good ideas about the tipping point being the resources, the resources are what really stopped them from continually growing like they had been. I wish I had just a little bit more time exploring the different characteristics, I wish I could have looked at more examples of each one. I mean for the most part I got the gist but just to clarify everything.

My major takeaways from last week’s topic, the collapse were really how downhill everything can go when you start thinking selfishly instead of together. Everyone in life is supposed to help each other with something, you can’t go through life with no ones help, it won’t ever work. When you start small, keep growing don’t ever stop just because you’ve finally reached your goal because one day other people might catch up to you, and instead of you being ahead you will be right there with all of them. Another concept that really stuck with me is how damaging humans can be to the only world they live on. Some people could care less how the world is going to be like in the next fifty years because they won’t be here. As we watched that movie from almost 14 years ago, its hard to say we’ve actually fixed anything. Almost every sustainable challenge in that movie, we’re still facing today. Pollution, food waste, Deforestation, these are all challenges that we still are working against. Ever since this pandemic and how school has mostly been online, I would like to think the use of paper has gotten better but I really couldn’t say. I really had no idea about all the problems were facing in the world, if you ask me what they were, I probably wouldn’t have said one thing on that list. It’s interesting to have knowledge about this stuff and to really get to an understanding about stuff that I will be living with for the next eighty years of my life.

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The Failure to Act will Result in Permanent Harm

Many new and old problems are arising in the discussion in class I realized I myself didn’t know all the Global Issues or/ wicked problems that were happening in the world. The more people who don’t know about the more we end in catastrophe. Things like using too much oil or global warming or product waste never really been that interesting to me. When I watched the 11th Hour movie I’ve come to realize how much our earth is suffering. My Wicked Problems class really exposed me to how naive I was. Deforestation is an old problem that keeps rising throughout time. The waste of clothes builds significantly as retail become more popular. Everybody’s thinking about fast fashion and not focusing on sustainability. I also learned that many people aren’t agreeing on what to do so they just wait it out. World destruction is coming near if we don’t find a way to use less oil. The problem with using solar energy is that we would come up with more waste then actually saving it about it. Solutions have to continually adapted to many different situations. Habitat destruction is a new thing that is happening with us today, all we do is build and build not considering the earth and the trees. We as the people are too focused on the material things. Overpopulation Is a huge thing today. There are so may baby’s and people we try to build homes and while trying to build home we cut down trees it’s a cycle that we can’t break out of it. I as a 19-year-old college student I never took a second glance at the earth. High School or Middle School aren’t teaching the kids these problems it gets swept under the rug. Now as those kids get older, we have to face the consequences of past actions. This evidently will lead us to us destruction. Also, a lot of these big companies and pouring their waste into the ocean many other things but because they have money nobody talks about it. The use hush money to pay people not to talk bad about their company. They really need to add global environmental issues in school and collectively find a solution that can adapt to many problems. Solar could just be one step, but we need more than that to make it. We’ve reached the melting point in the artic which they said in the 11th Hour film if very educational on what is happening. This film could be showed in schools to tell the people know. Now that I know what is happening, I’m going to try and help save our earth. Instead of fighting about we should get more people and involved and fix it. I hope seeing this makes more people aware and I feel ashamed that I didn’t know anything about what was happening. Before it is too late, I going to do all, I can to learn and try to understand the wicked problem then final a plausible solution.

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