What is Sustainability?

This is my second time being in a class dealing with the topic of sustainability. Last year in problem solving strategies I was introduced to the concept for the first time. I knew that the basis of it was being more friendly and conscious about the environment and the way that we were using resources to produce different materials. Now after being brought back to the concept I realize that it is actually more than that. It’s a responsibility we have not only to ourselves but to the future generations as well to make sure that we practice and pass on an Eco-friendly lifestyle because if we choose to be irresponsible now we are also choosing to make the lives of the future generations something that we would deem unlivable and being set back a thousand years to something like a prehistoric society. That’s why I believe a class like wicked problems is so important to figuring out and learning and expanding our minds to the idea of sustainability. With wicked problems it’s important to remember that even though they have no definite solution or end point we can get really close just by looking at it from a creative perspective and using both logic and empathy when trying to solve it. That’s why it takes a special kind of person, a right side thinker, to look into a wicked problem. People that use the left side of their brain would be more useful in trying to solve a tame problem because it’s more sequential and linear and leads to a direct answer. When we watched the 11th Hour in class it was a very interesting documentary to watch because it made me think about things that had never even crossed my mind before. Like how we as a society are so technologically advanced and most problems that we deal with can be solved with the click of a button or dealt with at our fingertips from our smartphones. Yet we haven’t realized even though we’ve stepped so far into the future technologically speaking we’ve become so dependent on it that we don’t know how to function without it. If one day all the technology we’ve created came crashing down we would basically be back in the dark ages. All of the resources we use for just our day to day activities are causing issues like climate change, global warming, toxic waste and so many others. We have conditioned ourselves to believe that we can survive without nature when that is the furthest thing from the truth. The norm for our society is that if we have a problem it can be solved with some sort of technology when in reality some things need to be left alone and left up to nature because if we’re not careful all of our “technological advancements” will end up being the death of us. For example like it was mentioned in the documentary the way we go about growing our food and all the hormones and chemicals that we are injecting into them is not natural and having food extend their shelf life just so it can be preserved longer than it was intended to. We make it so that the unhealthy food that is going to kill us in 30 to 40 years is easily accessible and the natural and organic food that is actually good for us and was meant to be put into our bodies is crazy expensive and few and far in between. Then again looking at this issue it could technically be labeled as a wicked problem because of the characteristics of it. The variable solution of it is that some people believed that this problem has been solved while others think that we are far from a solution that actually works. It has no end point, even if people could choose to always have healthy options would they because they don’t go as far or last as long as the unhealthy ones. It requires a unique approach to it and there are multiple different solutions because what works for some people may not work for others. The urgency of the problem also comes into affect 40 to 50 years may seem urgent to some people while not so much to others. With our in class activities of meditating and breathing and just being in the moment I have really enjoyed cause with being in college everything gets so busy and so hectic so fast you rarely ever have time to just stop and breathe and think. Even taking 30 seconds to let a piece of chocolate just melt in your mouth while you wiggle your toes and roll your shoulders is something that I have really appreciated. It really is just the little things sometimes that can make you have a better and clearer understanding of life and everything that goes on in it. The Easter Island story is a perfect example of what a society without sustainability looks like and how it can fall apart so fast without it. When you look at how many people lived in Easter Island and how small the land was and compare it to cities now and the amount of people you would be able to tell we have a serious overpopulation problem. All of the trees on the island died out and so went the plant life and at the end the people were reduced to cannibalism and that’s how the island died out. Now I don’t think we are even close to having to be reduced to cannibalism but if we’re not careful with the way that we choose to live our lives within the next few hundred years we might be.

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