I used to think of myself as someone who loved our planet because I love to be outside and enjoy its beauty. After these past two weeks of class I realized I was reaping the benefits of a healthy environment without doing my part to keep it that way. In fact, when someone mentioned the word “sustainability” all I thought of was the cheesy reduce, reuse, recycle song that we all learned in elementary school. Sustainability is much bigger than that. It is the concept of developing our world to meet our needs while ensuring that we do not cause harm for the future generations. I began thinking about how little students are educated on sustainability and how they can do their part. Furthermore, I watched people around me and was shocked to see the mass amounts of waste they were going through and how it could easily be stopped. For example, instead of going through five Styrofoam cups a day invest in a reusable water bottle.
This leads into sustainability being a wicked problem —a wicked problem is a problem that has no definitive solution. When assessing whether a problem is wicked or not refer to the six characteristics which are vague problem definition, undefined solution, no endpoint, irreversible, unique, and urgent. In this fashion, I reflected on the issue of sustainability to find out what makes this a wicked problem when the answer seems so obvious. Our future is going to be similar to the Easter Island reading in the sense that it seemed so clear that their island was falling apart yet they did not stop cutting down trees due to their competitive nature. As I read this passage I was horrified because it felt like a foreshadowing of our planet’s future. The signs of global warming, overpopulation, deforestation, etc. are all prevalent today, yet the mass majority of the population choose to ignore it. The biggest barrier holding us back is the paradigm of humans being superior to nature. Likewise, businesses believe to be independent from nature and focus only their well being. This mentality stems from our flawed political and economic system which allows businesses to destroy our environment.
The 11thhour documentary educated me on various aspects of sustainability that I did not know about. For example, the biodiversity loss we are experiencing is a result of our constant development. We are adding to our natural greenhouse effect with unnatural things like exhaust from our cars and the damage we are doing is not reversible. Climate change is another issue that is taking place due to human greed. Drilling into our earth is causing our environment to heat up a few degrees each year, if this continues at the rate it has been then humans will not be able to survive. After learning all of this all I have not been able to shake the feeling that one day my grandchildren are going to come to me and ask why we never stopped our detrimental actions. In relation to intergenerational responsibility if the planet became full it is our responsibility as the present generation to protect our planet. That being said it would take some extreme measures to fix a fully populated planet and most people would believe the solutions to infringe on their freedom, or to be unethical.
My carbon footprint is approximately 141 tons CO2/year which is only 1% better than the average. This is the amount of gases emitted into the environment due to the consumption of fossil fuels. After seeing that I am only 1% lower than the average I am going to make it a priority to lower my carbon footprint. Overall, these past two weeks have taught me so much about the importance of sustainability and I have already made an effort to lower my waste and encourage my friends to do their part in protecting our planet as well.