Cheap Destruction

Some might believe that the term “sustainability” is relative. What does it really mean to be “sustainable”? Does it simply mean living within your means? Living a more conservative lifestyle? Maybe even living in such a way as to never make a footprint in regards to the degradation of our world. Coming into this course, I had the understanding that sustainability meant living in such a way as to respect the natural world, and as a population, do our best to keep intact the beauty of the natural world, while still taking advantage of its gifts. As the world continues to change, people are being held responsible for the numerous positive feedback loops plaguing the earth today, resulting from lack of attention towards the use of biodegradable versus nonbiodegradable materials, the amount of fossil fuels being released into the atmosphere, and other issues we disregard at our convenience. These issues are often referred to as “wicked problems” because they are problems humanity faces with no single solution. Each solution seems to create another problem to tackle, so there are many different opinions as to which solution is best. As opposed to “tame problems”, which can be defined as problems that can be deemed to have one overall solution that is successful in majority cases, such as vaccinations, wicked problems are often hard to solve due to six characteristics: vague problem definitions, variable solutions, no endpoint to the solution, cascading effects, solutions require individuality, and they are urgent. As talked about in the 11th Hour Documentary, a large wicked problem we face today is climate change. A few examples of positive feedback loops discussed that regard climate change are the melting of the polar ice caps, increasing the amount of heat being absorbed by the earth, or the increase in desertification as a result of rapid deforestation. How do we cure this wicked problem without affecting the world’s economy? How do we measure the success of possible solutions? Many questions can be asked as to how we deal with such issues, but how long can we ask these questions before irreversible change occurs? Or has it already? Viewing the exhibit at the OSU Museum of Art, it was disheartening to see the damage we have caused thus far. The clear blue shore rapidly evolving into a brown shore filled with plastic. The porcelain creations of shells with imprints of manmade products. Is this our future? It will be unless we decide to make a change.

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