Becoming Aware of Sustainability

Sustainability is not a term I think about often. I do not usually go throughout my day making sure I am overall making the world a safer, better place. This is mainly because up until recently I thought sustainability was just about using products/practices that better helped the environment. Not using plastic straws, wearing clothes that used recycled products, using your own water bottle instead of buying them out of vending machines, that kind of thing, however; I now know the real meaning of the term. Sustainability is meeting the “needs of the present while not limiting needs of the future and looks to keep in balance the environment, society, and economy”.  

I never thought about how society and the economy go hand in hand with the environment for sustainability. This was a new topic to me, as was learning about a wicked problem. I had never heard of the term wicked problem until this class, but, now it makes sense. A wicked problem is a problem in our world/society that there is no clear solution for. There are six characteristics that help to describe and set apart these problems from tame (easily solved) problems. Vague problem definitions (unable to address the root of the problem), variable solutions (no right answer to the problem), no clear end point (new complications keep arising), irreversible effects (solutions may cause effects that cannot be undone), require unique approaches (different ways of solving problems), and urgent (affecting the world right now).

These six characteristics help to identify what is considered a wicked problem. The movie “The 11th Hour” opened my mind  to what some of these wicked problems in our world are. Poverty, hunger, climate change, and population growth are some of the wicked problems the film touched on. Others I thought of myself are marine pollution, terrorism, and education. These problems cannot be easily corrected. Encountering this topic has made me reexamine the world and the resources we all take for granted. If the people of this world do not band together to start making serious efforts to stop pollution, overpopulation, climate change, etc. then the world will start to collapse inward. The story of Easter Island was shocking and grotesque. Reading about this time in history I found myself wondering why they did not have a better plan, why they did not bring more food, how everything got so bad so quickly. I soon realized desperation caused them to reach that point, and if we are not more careful with our natural resources, our world today could easily follow their footsteps. Our fossil fuels are running out, deforestation happens every day and our water resources keep getting polluted. We may fall into the same trap if we do not try to stop the downward spiral. The world must improve-we have to do better. The Earth is our responsibility.  The earth is my responsibility.

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