Change Starts With Us

Over the course of these last four weeks, I can easily say that my views on wicked problems have drastically changed. In the beginning, I knew that there were serious sustainability issues engulfing our society, but I didn’t critically analyze them like I do now, solely because of this course. During the last week of the course, we touched on topics such as ways to move forward in our sustainability efforts as individuals and as a society, as well as dissecting this week’s reading which posed the question of ‘Does the Market Work Better Than Government at Transitioning to Sustainability?’.

At the beginning of this course, we watched the first half of a film called the 11thHourand on the last day, we finally got to see the rest of the movie. The main emphasis, the last part of the film presented, was ways to move forward in terms of our sustainability efforts. The filmmakers went in-depth about the different factors that made our society what it is today. They didn’t single out one specific entity that caused the wicked problems we face today, but instead looked at it as a whole. I found this to be really refreshing because, in my point of view, I see that the issues we face today were caused by a collected accumulation of materialism and greed between consumers, government, and industry sectors. All three of these sectors play a very important role in how we shape our society for the good or bad. So far, we have let our society accumulate increasing levels of waste and shape our perception of what’s really important. In the film, the filmmakers proposed some interesting solutions to our ever-increasing problems. In-regards-to governmental sustainable actions, the filmmakers proposed that we give incentives to companies that transition to renewable resources and to reduce income taxes, while raising energy usage taxes. This sounds like a viable solution, however, many of these oil and gas corporations influence the government heavily. As pointed out in Leo DiCaprio’s other film, Before the Flood. There is no doubt in my mind that many Americans are in favor of lowering the income tax but lobbying for an increase in energy usage taxes will have a hard time passing in congress especially when there’s big-time money backing politicians from these oil conglomerates. Like my old man always says, “If you want the truth. Follow the money”. The real reason why this idea hasn’t gotten any traction is simple, there is too much money at stake. Politicians love to receive sponsors and donations from big-time corporations, which in turn boosts their political relevance and recognition, but in order to keep those important backers they must look after the company’s best interests.

What it boils down to is the consumer and their habits. The consumer holds the greatest leveraging power in terms of drastically changing our society as long as we come together and believe in a common goal. As pointed out in the film, personal action is very important. Small, every day actions add up. If we, the consumer, become more aware of how we’re contributing to our unsustainable practices. We can slowly start to implement changes in our daily lives that steer more in the direction of sustainability. If we all take the pledge of building a more sustainable world and change our ways of consuming, we can ultimately force corporations into accepting pro-environmental standards in order to remain profitable. Corporations only care about their bottom line, so if we change as consumers, they have to implement pivotal changes in order to adapt to our new profound sustainable preferences. Since the government is highly influenced by corporations and corporations are greatly influenced by us, the consumers, we theoretically can start to see sustainability policies and environmental protection acts put into place. It all starts with us, if we can implement small changes in the way we consume products, we can trickle-up mass sustainable change.

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