The Wicked Die Alone

What is sustainability? Before taking this class, sustainability to me just meant recycling, reusing, and “trying to end climate change,” whatever that meant. Now I realize sustainability means something much more complex. It means becoming one with nature so that we can coexist. Right now, we are competing against nature; we are overusing non renewable resources, and we are not taking proper care of the resources that we do have. I recently calculated my carbon footprint and the results were shocking. My total footprint is 79 tons of CO2 per year, which is only 1% better than the average. This means that most people’s carbon footprint is greater than mine which is a major issue. These are problems that we as humans will face until something changes. What are the solutions to these major issues? There is not a definite solution to either of these problems, which is what makes them wicked. A wicked problem is a problem that is so complex that there is not one set solution.

There are six characteristics to a wicked problem: vague problem definition, undefined solution, no endpoint, irreversible, unique, and urgent. I would say that all of these characteristics apply to the circumstance that we are in today. There are 7.5 billion people in the world right now, and the numbers keep going up. Research says that when the earth reaches 9 billion, it will no longer be able to support us. We will be forced to fight for survival. How did it get this bad? What can we do to prevent it? These are questions that are on my mind when I think about this topic.

The current state that the earth is I seems eerily similar to that of Easter Island. To some, Easter Island may seem like a mystery. However, it is not a mystery at all. It’s as simple as this: The society that inhabited Easter Island was very advanced, but they used up all of their resources and were forced to fight one another to survive. That is exactly what will happen to us if we don’t pay attention and be more mindful of our actions. It doesn’t matter how advanced our society is. In the end it will fall, and we will go down with it. The earth can survive without us living in it.

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