The bad type of wicked

Sustainability is something I have always thought about and tried to be conscious about. Until recently I’ve always believe that sustainability was simply eco-friendly acts such as recycling and saving water. However my definition of sustainability has expanded to not only those acts, but coexisting in the world and finding a balance between what we have and what we use. Sustainability is so important in careers like the ones we are going into. The industries we are going to work in eventually are infamous for their effects on the environment. The fashion industry and the water pollution, for example, is a prime example of the way neglectful manufacturing can harm mother nature. When people understand the benefits of sustainability and learn how to coexist with the natural world we can stop harmful effects we have.

In the 11th hour documentary discusses the wicked problems of the world, specifically the effects on nature. A wicked problem is a problem that has not clear answer and the solutions that are thought up usually have unescapable repercussions. In the movie the narrator and other creditable personnel discuss how our everyday lives affect the planet. This film not only discusses the wicked problems that cause these affects but it also speaks on how our unsustainable choices are what is causing them! So many wicked problems are caused by our irresponsible choices. Earthquakes and tsunamis caused by oil fracking is on of the examples that first comes to mind as a cause and effect relationships between the unsustainable choices of humans, and the wicked problems caused by those choice. I have always thought about this relationship in particular because I have ties in Virginia and Oklahoma, which happen to be large fracking states. My mom also worked for many years in the oil industry so I know that there are many pro’s that come from this industry, but I also am well aware of the turmoil (no pun intended) that comes with it as well. So in the future, what are we supposed to do? Find a better way to get to oil? Move towards greener energy? How long will that take? What problems will eventually arise with that?

The reason we have so many unanswered questions with problems like that is because these problems follow certain characteristic that make them a “wicked problem” instead of a “tame problem”. There are six main characteristics that can aid in the identification of a wicked problem. The first characteristic is vague problem definition. What is wrong with fracking? The thudding motions may be linked to earthquakes, but are these earthquakes worse that not having the oil at all? The next one is variable solutions. The answer to the fracking problem does not have one set answer, there are many that could possibly fix one part of the problem. Next you have a solution that has no end point. This means that if you choose one solution, like a bandaid on a 6 in. cut, the problem with leak through and you will have to patch and patch and patch. Going along with that, the next one is that the solutions cause irreversible damages. Stopping fracking may lead to a oil shortage in the US, which in turn could start another oil war. The last two characteristics are that the problems call for unique solutions and URGENT attention. This means that these problems do not have mundane responses and they are important, and ignoring them only makes the problem more wicked. As you can see there are very different than the tame counter parts. Tame problems, unlike the one listed above, has an end and can be answered shortly and has and end.

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