What makes a problem wicked? We spent this first week of class defining what a wicked problem is, and looking at why these issues are so urgent. If you read about Easter Island, you will get a glimpse at not only what a wicked problem is, but also a glimpse of our future here on earth. The people who lived on Easter Island inhabited an island with very few resources to begin with. But, they made it work and had a very developed society for that time. One of their primary resources was wood from the trees on the island. They used the wood to build shelters, canoes for fishing, and to move things around the island. However, they did not keep track of their resource use. Instead, they put a lot of emphasis on the importance of other aspects of their lives, like the statues they made for religious purposes. They used the wood to move the statues around the island. The inhabitants of the island used up their resources and did not live in harmony with their environment.
This wicked problem on Easter Island alludes to our situation on earth today. Humans often put way more emphasis on things like the economy and do not pay much attention or even care about what is happening to our environment. Since the industrial revolution, fossil fuel use and population growth has increased dramatically. As a result, resources are being used at an alarming rate, and the environment is beginning to deteriorate. New wicked problems have been introduced, like global warming, climate change, rising sea levels, and deforestation. Now what makes these problems wicked? There is not just one clear definition or solution for the problem. However, it is urgent that something must be done. With the issue of global warming and climate change, there is severe flooding, acid rain, and other natural disasters that destroy environments and can potentially put people in danger. The problem is also irreversible. With the issue of deforestation, many species have gone extinct, and there is no getting them back.
Personally, this first week of class was very eye opening to me. I did not know how severe global warming and climate change was before this past week. Of course I have heard of global warming, and have seen changes in the environment I live in over the years. But I was not aware of how critical it has become. I think my lack of knowledge over the issue of global warming as well as other people, is due to the fact that the media and the government simply does not emphasize the situation, and takes no actions to find a solution to this now wicked problem. So why do politicians and the media not care? Because there are other issues that today’s society finds much more important.
We live in a world of consumers. The media is always showing us new things that we need in order to fit in and be satisfied. We are constantly buying products and doing things that we see as important factors to our lives. So obviously politicians are going to focus on the issues of the economy, because we as Americans put the most emphasis on it. As we continue to consume more and more, we use even more resources and end up hurting our environment. People may be aware of global warming, but have no intentions to find a stop to the problem because they cannot stop consuming.
We live in such a greedy society that a majority of the people do not care to acknowledge the issue of global warming. If no actions are taken to help preserve our resources and live in harmony with nature, then we will end up like the inhabitants of Easter Island. Our environment will run out of resources, and we will be turned to compete for the few resources we have left. Even if we do find a solution to help slow down the deterioration of our environment, the problem is pretty much irreversible and there is no way to undo the damage that has already been done. This sort of problem, is what we consider wicked.