Sustainability and Wicked Problem Issues

When class started on Tuesday, and the professor asked us what the word “sustainability” meant, I was clueless. I thought maybe it had to do with how the world renews and recycles, but I was completely wrong. I now have a better concept of what the word means and how it is affecting our environment. Sustainability to me, is more about protecting our world and using resources that are more natural for our environment that can keep it going. I believe if we want to become a more sustainable society, then we need to stop treating the environment so poorly.

Wicked problems are complex difficulties that can’t be solved by one person, and people have to work together to get the problem solved. Global warming, population growth, deforestation and climate change are examples of some wicked problems, because they are irreversible and can’t be solved. A tame problem is not considered a problem, and they can easily be solved with the right algorithm. An example of a tame problem would be finding a vaccine for a disease. Although, that is still a problem, it can be solved by making more vaccines.

There are six characteristics to a wicked problem. The first characteristic is vague problem definitions, which is when not everyone will agree due to the diversity among the stockholders. The second characteristic is variable solutions; this is when they aren’t completely sure if the problem is resolvable or not. The third characteristic is solutions have no end point, which means there is never an end to the problem, because wicked problems continue to change and cause cascading effects which is also called the butterfly effect. The fourth characteristic is solution pose irreversible effects, and that is when the problem is so severe there is nothing they can do about it. The fifth characteristic is solution requires unique approaches, which means every society is different and has their own values and the same solution wont work in all places. The sixth characteristic and the last is when the wicked problem becomes urgent, which means if someone doesn’t act in time then the problem will cause harm to the environment and humans.

After watching the 11thHour, I learned a lot more about wicked problems going on in the environment. The video showed me all the problems the world is facing, that I didn’t even know about. It makes me wonder, do people even care about how drastically the world will probably collapse in a few years? Or will we run out of water, because of all the droughts? In the video the filmmakers discussed how cutting down trees is causing deforestation and the same thing happened in the reading “Easter Island”; like when they cut down all the trees to make statues. After finishing activity one, it has really made me think about how we need to take care of our nature. Even though the environment is failing, I don’t think people realize that it can danger their lives too.

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