By Lauren Witt
Before this class, all I knew about sustainability was that it had to do with helping the environment. Now I know, not only that it is the idea of finding ways to help the planet and maintain an ecological balance, but also how important and relevant it is. As it turns out, if we don’t start taking more sustainable actions, we will deplete Earths resources all too soon. Realizing that really freaked me out honestly; Knowing that if we don’t take major action soon our entire lives could change, but also knowing that I’m only one small person and it’s hard to make a difference has really been weighing on me.
Many of the solutions I’ve been spending time thinking about, that relate to sustainability, have to deal with fixing our worlds wicked problems. A wicked problem is a social, cultural, or ecological problem that is difficult or even impossible to solve due to its sheer magnitude or ever-changing circumstances. It’s different from tame problems because it doesn’t have a simple solution. Wicked problems have six characteristics: vague problem definitions, variable solutions, no end point, irreversible effects, solutions requiring unique approaches, and being urgent. These characteristics really became clear to me after watching The 11thHour documentary. I felt kind of uneasy watching the film and realizing just how in trouble our planet truly is.
I think one of the reasons we have so many wicked problems, is that we as a human race are outgrowing what Earth can provide for us. The more generations we have, the more our population grows, which leads to the depletion of nonrenewable resources, and that leads into climate change. All of Earths problems seem to be centered around humans believing that we run the Earth rather than that we live on it just like all other species. If we were to stop taking advantage of the resources and species that live on our planet, we might not end up in peril.
One historical event that we may want to learn from is Easter Island. The tale of the island was found by explorers that were perplexed by the complexity and advanced artifacts found on the island, that couldn’t have been built by those still on the island that were living in squalor. The people left on the island were literally resulting to cannibalism to stay alive. How could these giant statues and impressive artifacts have been moves and built by these barbarians?? Well let me tell you: the civilization was once that progressive and spectacular. They had improved and advanced so much that they ended up surpassing what the island could support. Seems pretty similar to Earth … Our population is growing too much and we are taking advantage of our planet and the other organisms living here.
A term I learned in this class that related to that is “paradigm” which, according to the PowerPoint” means unlimited growth. It’s the idea that nature is seen to humans as more of an income and something to exploit, rather than an asset to our species. Humans are really out here trying to dominate Earth and it’s going to get us into some real deep trouble.
One last thing I want to touch on is my carbon footprint. Unfortunately, I am a big part of the problem; My carbon footprint is 34 tons of CO2 per year, which is 3% worse than the average… Guess I will be cutting down on everything I can like driving less and using less energy in my home now that I know just how much I am affecting the Earth too. It’s easy to say that we are destroying the Earth, but harder to actually do something about it.