Starting off this class I could not give a definite answer to what I believed was a wicked problem. Initially, I guessed that a wicked problem was just a problem that had to do with the negative effect of human developments. Just by understanding that wicked also means evil, I guessed that a wicked problem was just an overly problematic issue. Now, looking a wicked problem in a more intellectual standpoint, I understand that a wicked problem is a problem that is either impossible or extremely difficult to fix due to many different factors. For example, poverty is considered a wicked problem because the solution to poverty is not simple, it would take rebuilding governments, solving world hunger, and fixing economies. In comparison to a tame problem, a wicked problem deals with thousands of smallest issues within one grand problem. A tame issue could be the collapse of a bridge. The bridge could easily be fixed and reconstructed. Wicked problems also deal with multiple characteristics including vague problem definitions, variable solutions, solutions with no endpoint, solutions pose irreversible effects, solutions require unique approaches, urgency. Wicked problems are complex and take more than one person to start to break down the issue. Additionally, I also felt I knew what sustainability meant and dealt with, yet after spending time in class going over these topics in-depth, I feel I am more aware of what sustainability and wicked problems truly are. Whenever I thought of the definition of sustainability I would associate the word with ideas of caring for the environment like recycling and not littering. My knowledge has expanded in understanding that sustainability the act of protecting nature for the future of the world. Sustainability involves looking at the big picture of how everything humans do impact nature.
After watching the film of the 11th Hour, I noticed that my heart started to feel convicted by the way humans and myself have treated the earth. People’s mindsets are hardly focused on what is the most sustainable/earthly friendly choice in different realms of the world such as buying clothes or simply acknowledging how much plastic is used in packaging foods. Most people do not have the mentality of saving the earth because our culture praises industrial and technological growth. By no means is industrial or technological growth a bad thing, but the growth means more use of natural resources. A key factor to why people do not respect earth the way they should is due to assumptions made that humans are separated from nature. These assumptions correlate with how humans are greedy, selfish, and politically-focused.
Living with an economy-focused government in America, people’s vision has been blurred on serious environmental issues. Nature is seen as property, which deters people from valuing nature for all the benefits it has on our environment. By creating laws protecting nature, nature will no longer be abused or seen as just property. In the film, the fossil fuel industry was titled as the higher power in government. Because of how much money the fossil fuel industry pours into political parties, I believe the government is brainwashed into feeding selfish ambitions rather than helping nature get back on track. An interesting point in the movie highlighted how President Thomas Jefferson said to continue to rewrite the Constitution. If the government recognized that more issues have arisen dealing with nature, then the Constitution should make nature have specific rights. The Founding Fathers did not know about global warming back when they wrote the Constitution, which makes me wonder if the Constitution would have looked differently if they knew how much nature was going to suffer. America’s culture is a consumer demography where people desire to control and what to know they have freedom in decisions. People do not want to be told they are making wrong decisions when it comes to following sustainable practices. I believe that since we live in such a materialistic world, people do not want to face the reality that we are harming not only the environment but ultimately ourselves. I also believe that the industrial system has to be reinvented because it is a waste making system. After the Industrial Revolution, nature was viewed just as a resource to most humans. A worldwide change in mentality must change that nature is not submissive to human desires.
The thought of all the consequences from current environmental crisis’ happening around the world is frightening. This past week I was informed more in-depth on deforestation. In Activity 1, I learned that deforestation contains many of the six characteristics that make wicked problems wicked, such as urgency and irreversibility. When a single tree is cut down, that tree could start a flood because it contains tons of water. Also, whenever forests are cut down, deserts or grass field grow back instead of trees. Both these consequences from deforestation, produce a ripple effect of problems that deal with jeopardizing ecosystems, reducing carbon dioxide levels, and potentially starting floods in aquifers. In the article The Lessons of Easter Island, the inhabitants of the island deforested the area, causing their community to die out because of their lack of resources. Just like the tragic story of Easter Island, deforestation is a common problem around the globe. The question people need to start asking one another is, are we too ignorant to realize that if we continue to cut down trees we will kill out our own species? Complaints are often heard about climate change, yet people continue to cut down trees which help the air, reduce pollution. I believe people need to accept the reality that humans are to blame for more natural disasters.