Why Change Our Ways?

Sustainability has always been, in my mind, recycling and just using less materials, but it is much more than that. I’ve always been taught that I need to make sure to throw my water bottles and my paper trash away in different bins, but why? Why are these things so important to our future generations? Why do we need to use less of our everyday “essentials?” Sustainability is not just recycling and being mindful of what we use and how often we use it. I have come to learn that there is so much more that goes into sustainability, how much we drive, where our food comes from, the amount of electricity and water we use and so much more. Recycling really is just a stepping stone into sustainability, then why is that the most common used method of sustainability? That is where we see wicked problem come into play in our everyday lives. Wicked problems are problems that do not have a definite solution, we see this in the cars we drive, the water we use, the nature we abandon, the lights we use and the things we eat. We don’t have solutions to these problems that are slowly effecting our atmosphere. You don’t think about the hamburger you eat for lunch and how it came to be on your plate. We don’t think about how the lamp we leave on in the bedroom when we leave for the day and how that effects not only our carbon footprint but the waste of resources. We all know what a tame problem is, a problem that has a definite solution, maybe like a math problem? We recycle our water bottles, but why do we not just have a reusable water bottle or we recycle those notes that we printed off for class, but why not just look at the notes on a laptop? Tame problems have simple solutions, most of the time. But wicked problems are much more difficult to solve, if there is a solution. 

Through the Vague Problem definitions, we see that it is difficult to precisely pinpoint what the problem is because it may be framed differently. These tells us that not only one solution would fix wicked problems. Mainly because of the different regions, cultures, and beliefs. The Variable Solutions  shows us that it is difficult to precisely identify one definite solution to the problem that would work everywhere and for everyone. Not everyone would be sufficient in the solution or believe that it would work right, many would be doubtful or not come to the conclusion that the problem has been solved. Solutions have no end point because it is difficult to identify when the end of a problem could be anticipated. This characteristic would make many new problems arise in the eyes of others, mainly because there are so many problems that connect into one main problem and without fixing all of the problems we would see a trickle effect in the other problems getting worse. Solutions pose irreversible effects, a wicked problem is considered irreversible, the effectiveness of a solution cannot be verified prior to implementation. Without trying a solution we wouldn’t see any result but many would be skeptical to even try new solutions to the problems that we are facing on a day to day basis. Solutions require unique approaches, the same solution to the problem will not work effectively in all places and for all people, every situation is distinct because the cultural, political, social, environmental, technological, economic contexts. Urgency, “paralysis by analysis,” a failure to act will result in permanent harm to human and natural systems. Without acting at all we will see these problems get much worse, we need to act fast and in a good manner to try and come up with solutions to the problems that we have created. 

            We see through the story of Easter Island, that it really is a lesson to our society today. It may seem that we are very different in many ways when compared to Easter Island, but we can clearly see the parallels that connects our society to the society of Easter Island. We may not have as many limited resources that they had but we are quickly and without caution reducing the amount of resources that we have available to us. We use our resources in redundant and irreversible ways, just like the society that inhabited Easter Island. When they started making massive religious monuments out of stone and cutting down trees to move them, we can clearly relate that back to the materialistic “monuments” that we make in our society. We are quickly running out of resources, but we are not realizing it or doing anything about it. Our society will eventually end up like the society on Easter Island, we will run out of resources, means of sustaining the amount of people on the Earth and creating a safe environment for not only us but our children and their children. We have seen many of these problems explained in the 11thhour movie, we have seen the cause for climate change, deforestation, population growth, and biodiversity loss. We are able to track all of these problems back to when we first started noticing the problem itself. With the activity that we went over, we can see that many of these problems are urgent to start correcting them. Some of these things are just hard to fix and it makes things less convenient. Personally I don’t drive the most efficient vehicle, I drive to most places and don’t carpool, I don’t use the most efficient lightbulbs or take the shortest showers. I waste food and I don’t buy everything organic. There are many different things that I could change to make my carbon footprint smaller and more efficient. My top areas in the carbon footprint would be travel and home, then food and goods. Many of these things that we do, are not efficient or sustainable, we rely on convenience and the “easy route.” We should change many of the things we do, from everyday life to the once and awhile things that we do, one small step could lead a large change. 

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