Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked

Image result for easter island area

While I had heard the topic of sustainability talked about at various points of school, I knew very little about what it actually meant. We learned in elementary school about renewable resources, and were told that they were sustainable. We were taught that we had an unlimited number of these resources at our disposal. However, it wasn’t until college did I learn what sustainability really means. It means that you are reducing your use of natural resources to create a balance in the environment. I was unaware to the extent of my negative impact on the Earth until I took a carbon footprint test. While I thought I put enough effort into reducing my emissions it would appear that I do not. I am thankfully not above average in this regard, but it was eye opening to me that I had such a large impact. My results encouraged me to find ways to reduce my carbon footprint so that future generations can utilize the same environment that I have. We have an intergenerational responsibility to each other to make sure that the earth is received in the same or better condition than what was given by the past generation.We must not create or contribute to problems that could be considered wicked.

A wicked problem is a continuing issue that does not have one unanimous solution. There are six characteristics to determine if a problem is considered wicked. The first criteria is that the problem is too vague to nail down a specific definition. This can cause individuals to disregard a problem because they cannot recognize all of its forms. The second criteria of a wicked problem is variable solutions. There can be many solutions to an issue that may be  effective, and each solution is hotly debated. No single solution can be chosen by all, so none are implemented. The third criteria is that the solution has no endpoint. Problems can change over time and are often revived due to complex systems in place. As a result, it can seem like no solutions are effective. The fourth criteria is that the solution itself could pose serious environmental harm; therefore no solutions should be sought. The fifth determining factor for a wicked problem states that solutions require unique approaches, meaning that not one solution will work for everyone. The sixth and most important factor is urgency. An issue must require immediate treatment to be considered wicked. We must be conscious of how we as a society can diminish the plethora of wicked problems that the earth faces so that everyone may enjoy its beauty for generations to come. 

Reading the “The Lessons of Easter Island” by Ponting was eye opening. While I had heard about the mysterious statues that were constructed on the island. I had no idea about the civilization that once lived there, or the tragic demise that they faced. The reading told the history of how Polynesians sailed to the island in large boats and started a civilization. The island was okay in the beginning. The climate was much different than the Polynesians were used to, as a result, much of the animals and vegetation that they had brought with them were no longer suitable. So they had to adapt to the resources on the island. But, as the population grew, the island stayed the same. Soon, the island was unable to provide all of the necessary resources that were needed by the population. The trees on the island had been cut down to be used for the needs of the people. The civilizations could no longer construct their large monuments, and the individuals began to question their religion. Because there were no longer resources to construct boats to get off of the island. The inhabitants were stuck, and had to resort to warfare and cannibalism. The history of Easter Island serves as a warning for the world today. As illustrated in the film “11th Hour”, the Earth has limited space and a limited number of resources. Eventually we will reach a limit on the number of people that can inhabit the Earth peacefully. Each person has their own self narrative; a personal story that shapes the way that you see the world. But there are also paradigms; which are patterns in society that shape the way individuals see the world. If we do not listen to these warnings, and fundamentally change the way we treat the environment on a personal and societal level, then our civilization will be doomed to the same fate as Easter Island. 

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