Treat Earth right, she’s the only home we got

This week’s topic was about Wicked problems and how they can cause collapse. In the in class conversation on Thursday, I contributed to the discussion about how different our problems are from that of Easter Island. Our problems today are much greater because of the scale of our problems, our over-consumption of virtually every resource we have and how we rely on our environment more than we did even a few generations ago. In the passage we read about the inhabitants of Easter Island, the main issue they faced was deforestation. Our problems today are worse because we are also dealing with pollution and global warming, alongside our over-consumption of resources.

Before this week I hadn’t really considered how deforestation affects us all. We rely on wood and paper products so often and honestly don’t even realize it. Many building materials are made from wood, and even materials like concrete rely on wood for its formwork. It’s honestly alarming how much we rely on trees in our everyday life. This has led me to do some outside research about alternative building materials in the industry. One of my more interesting finds was using straw bales. This method of construction, while unconventional, is very sustainable. Straw bales have a low amount of embodied energy, and are a good insulator, making it both a sustainable building material and energy efficient. My research has also shown me that we aren’t planting as many trees as we are using. That’s alarming to me because that means that either we as a society don’t care about replenishing trees for future generations, or we aren’t aware of how many trees we are indeed using. If tomorrow, we depleted our forests of trees we would be in trouble.

Building on that thought, I asked myself “what would happen if tomorrow we suddenly ran out of oil”? My conclusion is that the world as we know it would be in chaos. We rely on oil largely for transportation, and without cheap and easy transportation, as a society we would have to live very differently. I feel that if this happened, we would be in a similar situation that the Easter Islanders were in. Food scarcity would be raging, since most people don’t live relatively close to farms, making food hard to come by. I think that wars would also be fought over food and farm land, which is a similar situation the inhabitants faced. There are many correlations between our society and that of the Easter Islanders, but I still feel that we are in worse shape than they were.

The main thing I’ve learned in class over the last week was that our culture needs to change. Our society needs to be more aware of where our waste goes and how we are using our resources. If we continue our trends of using more than we are giving to the earth, we will face collapse.

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