This semester I’m taking a course on wicked problems. It’s a class that I don’t have any prior experience in, but I’m eager to learn more about how I can contribute to the earths’ health. I view sustainability as being the way we can continue to thrive and grow constantly. It is a concept that means keeping balance in our world. A wicked problem is unique and can be hard to understand. This is because that type of problem is very hard to solve, if we can solve it at all. Most of the time wicked problems are on contradictory topics where one side is not willing to change their perspective. On the other hand, a tame problem is the opposite. It is a problem that has a formula and it can be solved with less effort. It’s like a math problem, there is always a correct answer.
There are 6 characteristics of a wicked problem and why they are so hard to be solved. The characteristics include, Vague Problem Definitions which means there are multiple and diverse groups that all think uniquely and won’t agree. The next problem is called Variable Solutions, which encompasses the idea that there are various ways we can solve a problem, so not only one way will work. Next, we have Solutions that Have No Endpoint. These problems are like running on a treadmill, it keeps going, progressing, with no end in sight. This occurs when new problems keep arising without solutions to fix them. The fourth characteristic is, Solutions Pose Irreversible Effects. For example, this could be when animals become extinct and there is no possible way that we can fix that. What’s done is done unfortunately. Then there are, Solutions Require Unique Approaches. This causes trouble because depending on the people, culture and the environment, the specific solution may not work. Last, we have Urgent! This is when you may have to throw out a solution that you aren’t 100% sure about yet, but if you don’t do anything at that moment, then very bad things will occur. I think as our generation is passing through and more generations follow, that we need to take responsibility and take action. If each generation gets better at helping our environment flourish, then we could possibly make a turn for the better. We should be teaching classes that are focused on environmental sustainability and how we can help. I think most people are either not aware, they do not think about the long-term effects, or they just chose to not change their lifestyle.
Easter Island “Is a striking example of the dependence of human societies on their environments and the consequences of irreversibly damaging that environment.” (Diamond. 2) The settlers had very little resources to work with, but they ended up having one of the most advanced societies for what technological level was. The island only had a few plant and animal species, not leaving the people to very many options to survive off of. The people also began to use too man resources and cut down too many trees and eventually there was nothing left. Hitting on their culture, they held elaborate rituals and other religious ceremonies. They were the people who set up the giant stone statues that are still standing and talked about today. Jared Diamond says, “The cause of the collapse and the key to understanding the ‘mysteries’ of Easter island was massive environmental degradation brought on by deforestation of the whole island.” This disaster can be compared to our present-day issues and where we maybe headed. If we continue to use up our resources rapidly with our growing population, we may find ourselves in some irreversible damage done by our own people. Most people think that we will never get to a point where our water runs out, the trees are all cut down and most animals become extinct. But in reality, we could be closer to those events than we think.
The 11th hour video and activity 1 was an eye-opening experience. It was certainly a good way to be introduced into the course and what we will be learning about. The videos and the activity focused on the problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth, deforestation, and nonrenewable resources. We didn’t not only take notes about the video, but we brainstormed ways we can benefit and change our regular actions. It made me realize how big of a problem we will have on our hands if we do not educate ourselves and the future generations. In class we learned about self-narrative and paradigms. I took away that self-narrative is when you have a personal story attached to a situation. For example, if you or a loved one is personally affected by problem, it hits close to home and most often you are more passionate about the cause. Paradigm is the collective mental mode made up of our beliefs, assumptions, etc. It’s the lens through which we perceive the world. Everyone has different views and opinions, but I think we should come together and find a common solution. But that in itself is a wicked problem. We have done many class activities for example, the Wildest Thing Activity, where were had to think about ways we can change our behavior and make a difference. Talking and thinking about a problem will not solve anything in the long run. You can’t just imagine change and expect results.
I did my carbon footprint and granted, I did not know every fact about how much of each resource my house in Texas uses, but I did my best to estimate the numbers. My carbon footprint was a score of 5.58 metric tons CO2e. My ranking is higher than the world target but a decent amount lower than the average American. Now that I’m being educated, I want to continue being conscientious and keep lowering my carbon footprint number. I love learning about this matter, because it is something that can actually make a difference in our world.