What is Wicked Problems to Me. Blog #1

Sustainability in my eyes before this class was maintaining a certain level of resources over a period of time. When I came up with that definition on the first day of class, I was pretty close. It is characterized as being “inter-generational” and “responsibility”. After hearing this and the wheels in my head turning, it made sense to me. It is inter-generational because it is over a long period of time or in reality infinite time, if possible. Also, it is responsibility because we have that responsibility to take care of the world, so we can live on this giant boulder we call earth. Now the big question is what is a wicked problem? Simply put it is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. These problems take unique problem-solving skills and majority of the time the problems we solve do not fix the problem and have consequences that can cause new problems. That is what makes them “wicked”, almost impossible to solve. A “tame” problem is a problem that can be solved if it is solved using the correct algorithm, and that what makes them different. One is solvable, and one is not.

The ted talk that I want to talk about is not one of the ones we watched, no, but rather the

YouTube video we watched over little Greta Thunberg. The video was her speech she had at the United Nations Climate Change COP24 Conference. Greta is from Sweden and before this she set up a strike at her school to gain traction for climate change. After listening to her speech, I believed this little girl had the biggest heart in the world to go out in front of the entire world and speak what she believed and for the world to wake up and see what we as humanity are doing to this world. Climate change is a real thing and I thought this speech was definitely a wake-up call for the world to get up and make a change before it is too late. There are six characteristics for a wicked problem, those being in order, vague problem definitions, variable solutions, solutions have no end point, solutions pose irreversible effects, solutions require unique approaches, and they are urgent. Let’s start with them having vague problem definitions, this means that there are diverse and multiple stakeholders that are involved. This means that this diversity makes it hard for people to agree on what the issue is and how to solve it. The second characteristic is that wicked problems have variable solutions which means it is hard to identify one definite solution that can solve the problem for everyone around the world. The third characteristic is that solutions have no end point. This means that when you implement a solution, new problems will arise because wicked problems are affected by everything and solutions we implement have to adapt to those new problems. The fourth characteristic of wicked problems is that their solutions pose irreversible effects, those meaning that when we implement a solution, it changes the world that cannot be undone and have real consequences. As I discussed earlier, wicked problems are unique in that their solutions have to be unique and “out of the box” thinking. This uniqueness is what makes it the fifth characteristic. The last characteristic of a wicked problem is that they are urgent. This means they need immediate action even if we do not know the full problem in detail. Now I would like to talk about the Native American video we watched about sustainability. What I got from the video was that we should not use the world we live on like we do now. We should coexist with nature and be a part of the ecosystem. What we are doing now is using our world of its resources and as time goes by, the world will at some point run out of resources.

The Easter Island reading we had was very intriguing to me. The story was how this once flourishing technologically advanced society made themselves go extinct due to their pettiness and large egos they had. Stripping mother nature of all its resources on Easter island and they paid the ultimate cost, death by extinction. As I read about their stories I noticed how this event could be directly connected to were we are heading ourselves on this planet. Overtime, if we do not change we will be like them, stripping the land of all it trees due to conflict between other groups and then like that, we could be out of resources. I saw this story as a tale of greed and the consequences of greed. To draw a parallel to their world and ours, I could use the wood crisis we have with deforestation. The Easter islanders completely rid their land of trees and then could not escape to find more resources. This is happening to us now as we are depleting our forests for paper, architecture, etc. Their downfall could also be our downfall if we do not open our eyes and see our consequences.

My carbon footprint on this world is considered, at least by the survey I took, to be 37% better than average. Even though majority of the survey I had to either guess or leave as average, I do not think my carbon footprint they gave me was correct. In all honesty, I would consider myself as not an eco-smart/friendly person. I usually forget to recycle and just “throw away” trash. I am a person that uses hairspray, and a lot at that, so I am one of the people depleting the ozone. I know I can and will do better. When it came down to the separate categories, I was well below the similar households except for the food categories. And I admit that I eat a lot of food and sometimes we do waste food. I expect by the end of this class to be more mindful and become a eco-friendlier person on this planet. Lastly, I want to talk about the wicked problem I want to explore in this class. That topic being the textile waste buildup we have in our landfills. People just “throw away” their clothes and it is not recycled and ends up in landfills. Piling up and not getting decomposed or recycled. This will be a fun topic to discuss because I plan to enter the apparel business myself.

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