Before taking this class I thought as sustainability as something other people do like trying to prevent climate change or just making better choices like recycling. I know now that sustainability is a complex topic that covers much more than just recycling and has deeper concerns for the state of the entire planet. I did the carbon footprint calculator and learned that my footprint is 27.98 tons, which is more than the average person. I know this is because I drive over 800 miles per week. I never thought about how this would affect the environment until the website said it would take 400 trees to offset my annual footprint! There is not much I can do about how much I drive, but this did make me want to take other steps to be more eco friendly. The question “If the Earth is full, what would you do as it relates to intergenerational responsibility?” really stumped me. There is no answer to this that doesn’t seem to impose on basic human rights. Maybe by solving or improving other wicked problems we could improve that one as well. Or maybe science will advance and we will live on Mars soon, lol.
I like many others, have never heard of a “wicked problem.” I learned that a tame problem is one that can be handled with a systematic approach such as: identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and pick the best one to solve the problem. A wicked problem is more complicated and when trying to find a solution you keep finding more problems that interlock with each other. A wicked problem has no foreseeable end, and instead needs to be constantly worked on and resigned to find the best route to take.
The intimidating things about trying to tackle a wicked problem is that you can’t really do prior testing to make sure there isn’t going to be dire consequences. It seems as though you just have to go for it and be prepared to re design the solution. Could a proposed solution for a wicked problem be tested in a particular city first before starting it everywhere? But this could cause other issues too if it didn’t go as planned, and it would be difficult to get a city to agree to be a guinea pig. These proposed solutions often have unintended consequences which cause more problems to arise. This happens because these types of problems have closely interlocked issues and when you fix one thing, it affects the others. This is problem discouraging to those trying to fix these problems because it is frustrating to feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back. Wicked problems are also very hard to define because of various opinions on what the problem actually is. People may have a different point of view due to location, politics, or culture. This diversity means that not everyone is going to agree so it’s difficult to get started trying to fix a problem.
The 11th hour video touched on the main wicked problems of the world. While watching the video, it hurt my heart everytime they showed a tree being cut down, or a dead animal. The documentary did a really good job engaging the viewers and appealing to our compassionate side. I truly love and respect nature and to see it being destroyed is upsetting. I had a thought while watching the beautiful landscapes the video showed. Everyone loves to take vacations. Most people go on vacation to see landmarks, mountains, oceans, forests, etc. There could be a day where there would be no where to visit because it was ruined by us. I thought that could put that into perspective for others who may not care as much about these issues. It would be so boring to live in a world with no plants, color, or life. It would be like living in black and white. This could relate to the Easter Island story. The civilization there had depleted all of their resources and when they had nothing to sustain them, and nothing to do, they began to fight with each other until they destroyed themselves. It seems as though we have not learned our lesson from the history of easter island. We are doing exactly what they did but slower and on a bigger scale. I think the main problem is that most people, including myself ignore these issues and just think “oh that’s someone else’s job and problem,” but it’s not. This is all of our problem. We are all connected, we are part of a greater whole, and we need to step it up for the sake of continuing our legacy in this universe.