I have always thought of myself as an environmentally aware person. I have always had the attitude that sustainability means the population as a whole need to realize how detrimentally their actions are affecting the planet. However, I never realized what is actually the most important concept regarding sustainability: my personal behavior. The definition of sustainability has evolved slightly over time but for the most part it means to maintain something at a certain level or rate. Regarding the earth, sustainability means we need to do whatever is in our power to preserve and maintain our planets’ natural elements to keep environmental balance.
The concept of sustainability and what will cure our environment is a lot harder to answer than it may seem. This is because it is a wicked problem, meaning, there is no definite solution to what will save the world. A wicked problem is the opposite of a tame problem because a tame problem has a final solution. There are six characteristics of wicked problems, the first being vague problem definitions. This means that an exact problem cannot be framed because people in different geographic locations, ethnicity’s, and cultural background may have a different opinion of the issue. Since everyone has a different background not everyone is going to agree on the same solution, which is the second characteristic: variable solutions. Third, the idea that solutions have no end point shows that as times change the solutions adapt with new problems that occur, proving that there cannot be one solution. Wicked problems are considered irreversible because no solution has been verified effective. The proposed solutions also have to have a unique perspective since the same answer will not work for everyone. The last characteristic of a wicked problem is urgency. We have to act urgently because permanent harm is being done to the earth. This leads to the problem of intergenerational responsibility. Intergenerational responsibility encompasses the idea that younger generations will experience more negative effects in the environment rather than older generations. In my opinion, this means that it is up to the current generation to take action in helping the environment so the younger generations to come will experience a positive environment.
After reading the article by Barbara Anderson, “A New Green History of the World”, I immediately came to the conclusion that the state of our environment is not a new problem. The collapse of Easter Island is foreshadowing for the fate of earth today. The people of Easter Island were greedy and excessively consumed resources. Despite the realization that the resources they were using were not going to last forever they did absolutely nothing to conserve. This directly correlates with the issues we face today. Our planet is using nonrenewable resources as if they are renewable due to human greed. The challenges of sustainability are not a new challenge and if we do not act fast we too will have the same grim fate as Easter Island.
The documentary, the 11thHour, really changed my perspective on the state of our planet. There are so many more issues affecting our environment than I originally thought. For instance, climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth, deforestation, and nonrenewable resource use are just some of the immense issues affecting us today. The documentary highlighted the fact that we must be finding substitutes for the extreme burning of fossil fuels if we ever want to have a livable environment in years to come. The population must stay aware of the state our environment is in in order to protect our atmosphere. The reason most of the population is overlooking the state of our environment is due to paradigms. A paradigm is the collection of beliefs, values, or assumptions and the most dominant social paradigm today is the idea of human domination and nature as income rather than as asset. In order to shift this paradigm, it will cause a collective reimagining of goals and immediate behavioral action.
After completing the carbon footprint challenge I am truly appalled and embarrassed by the toxicity alone I am putting into the environment. A carbon footprint means the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a person. The carbon footprint challenge really inspired me to act right now and start changing the issue of sustainability with myself. I learned that the way I can help the earth currently is by changing all of my bad habits that I was unaware of and inspiring the people close to me to do the same as well. I am currently cutting down on my waste and have purchased re usable items in order to fix that. This week I decided that I am going to list all of my unsustainable habits and come up with a solution to them so I have no excuse to continue that habit. Overall, being apart of this class has already shifted my views on sustainability and has made me start acting now.