Like many others, I had no clue what this new mandatory course called “Wicked Problems” entailed, but I was pleasantly surprised that it is centered on the faulty state of our environment caused by the manipulation of man. I have recently been very focused on caring for our environment and even wanting to minor in sustainable design to do whatever I can to make the fashion industry much more eco-friendly. After the our first meeting and watching part of The 11th Hour, it left me to think of my own waste like: the lack of initiative to recycle, going through paper goods like there is no tomorrow, or supporting industries that cause an immense disturbance to environments around the world. At the start of class, I believed monster corporations were the issue, but towards the end of the week I began to wonder, “Am I the problem?” This question left a profound sense of shame towards something that I care so deeply for, the sanctity of our environment.
We started our first class by understanding the true definition of a “wicked problem,” which is a problem that is extremely challenging to understand or to find a solution that would not greatly sabotage someone one or something else in the world. After understanding the meaning of the class, we watched a documentary called The 11th Hour. The movie fascinated and horrified me all at the same time with all of the brutal facts on the effects of human consumption. Everything the human touches leaves some sort of imprint somewhere and right now we have a negative imprint on our environment, but what fuels this desire to conquer our natural earth? The documentary stated that the main reason for this desire is the idea that humans are “better” than all living and non-living things on this planet and the fuel for more: more money, more in life, and more to our name as an individual. I like to pride myself in being an optimist and dislike the idea that all humans are selfish and desire personal gain over everything else, but that were rather ignorant to the profound effects we have as individuals and are extremely dependent on things that are necessary for our everyday life. Like the people of the Easter Islands, we think that everything is inexhaustible or can be replaced, but nothing gold can stay. For me, this idea of “everything can be replaced” was taught in my first elementary school science class. I was taught that natural resources like trees, water, and air are inexhaustible, but that is far from the truth I understand now. Clean water is becoming extremely low, we over consume trees to the point that growth cannot keep up with our rate of destruction, and air is becoming more and more toxic. I simply was not aware of these harsh facts for the longest time; my ignorance surpassed my knowledge.
Now the problem I faced after our class last week was what could I do personally that will impact the environment positively? What can the world sacrifice for Mother Earth? And as of right now, the world cannot sacrifice physically sacrifice oil or the usage or factories, so we must start small. The firsts steps of being aware and present to the state of our surroundings are to understand the issues at a young age. We need to start stressing to the children of today that resources are not inexhaustible and that there is an end to all things and see what spawns from there. Though this is a very insignificant suggestion, I am confident of the constructive possibilities that could arise like: future innovators, voices for our environment, or just having individuals aware of their own contribution to this planet. That being said, I am so excited to continue this course and broaden my knowledge of sustainability!