Wicked problems, when hearing this was the title for a class, my first thought was not that it was about sustainability. This was because I had no previous knowledge of a wicked problem. However, I soon learned that wicked problems are the kinds of problems we should scared to find, but eager to hear about. They are endless, irreversible, unique, and urgent problems in this world. These characteristics are ones that are hard to wrap around our idea that we live in a perfect, healthy, little world. However, in this class we talk specifically about the wicked problems of climate change on our no longer perfect world.
My journey to learning about these problems began with the 11th hour movie shown in class. This film brings to light not only the climate change, but the wicked problems that climate change wraps itself around. The two that stuck out to me were the biodiversity loss and deforestation. Biodiversity means that there is a gradual extinction of species that are important in our daily lives, making our planet less diverse in not only animals but vegetation as well. Deforestation means that we are losing trees faster than we can grow them. Trees are a large part of the greenhouse effect, sucking the CO2 that we emit into the air, however if we don’t keep our trees around than the CO2 stays in the atmosphere and hurts our climate. Why are these wicked problems? Because we can’t bounce back from either one of them, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for them, they are unique problems to our earth, and lastly, they are urgent.
So, is a wicked problem a hopeless cause? No, for example with climate change there are solutions that will slow it down, but that cannot be done unless we act upon it. This leads to intergenerational responsibility. It is our responsibility to help the generations after as to take better care of this earth we live on, in addition help them live in a longer lasting world. The book, “The New Green History of the World” by Clive Ponting, refers to the tragic story of Easter Island. Easter Island is parallel to the predicament we find ourselves in today. Because the generations that lived on Easter did not put any effort to maintain the earth they were given or even pieces of their history, we know very little and almost nothing about the history of the natives who lived on that Island. Soon that could be us if we are not careful to pass on the traditions of taking care of our earth to the ones after us.
After coming to the realization that I am included in the generation of people who are responsible for the state of this earth when the generations after us come along, I wanted change. In class we were showed a way to look up how much carbon we are leaving the earth and mine showed that I emit 12 tons a year. According to nature.org, the average U.S. citizen emits 16 tons a year, while the rest of the world emits around 4 tons. In addition, for our planet to stop increasing 2 degrees Celsius every year we need to emit on average 2 tons year around the world by 2050. These numbers put into perspective on how serious this wicked problem is, especially in the U.S. We need to push for the big green, in order to help the generations after us get a head start.