Sustainability: My Journey Begins

Right now, stand up, and take a step outside. What is the first thing you notice? The sky, the trees, is there a car near, people, is it dark out? Rarely do people take the time to fully understand that everything we see is of some significance to this world. Rather it be the birds flying over your home, your loved ones, the beach you vacationed on, or even yourself, everything is connected to a system; and every system on this earth is interconnected. We have an understanding for these systems in order to make this thing called “sustainability” work. Before entering my courses this semester I did not know what sustainability was nor did I care in all honesty. I didn’t know that there should be such a focus on the concept. I now know that sustainability is a strive to maintain and protect not only our natural environment but all systems in our world. In a Ted Talk I was watched the women said, “Sustainability is a catalyst for innovation.”, and this really stuck with me. If more people could get behind this notion, innovation would surround us. We are so use to using short term thinking and problem solving that we only sustain the unsustainable. This is why I enjoy such a focus on this idea of sustainability in my recent courses.

A tame problem is a problem in which you can solve using an algorithm or a pre-made set of rules or calculations. Where as a wicked problem is one that cannot be solved by simply using an algorithm, it has no known solution. Even when one attempts to solve a wicked problem, you usually just end up discovering it is larger and more complex than initially thought. Wicked problems encompass six characteristics that make them difficult if not impossible to solve including: vague problem definitions, variable solutions, solutions with no end point, solutions that pose irreversible effects, solutions that require a unique approach, and urgency. Each of these feed into what makes wicked problems so non-traditional and complex.

In the 11th hour film, I was pleasantly surprised to see Janine Benyus who I previously watched and loved in a Ted Talk from my problem solving class. She is an expert on biomimicry and contributed her ideas and beliefs of nature in the film as well. The film was excellent and truthfully scared me a bit. How can I along with much of the world be so clueless when it comes to the immense issues of our planet? It helped me to more so understand climate change and why their is an urgency to change our ways. We must make more sustainable choices and designs if we want to see changes. How long will many of these issues last without massive change? There are so many questions and gray areas which is why they are wicked problems of our world.


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