Wildly Wicked Problems

It bewilders me that some people still don’t believe climate change is real. Every decade since 1970 the Earth has continued growing warmer. The Earth is getting warmer because of the mass amounts of greenhouse gasses that are being emitted into our atmosphere from manufacturing plants, and many other things. Many solutions have been brought up, but none have seemed to work to fix the problem. This is due to a lack of political will. Many politicians believe that there are many more pressing matters, so global warming often gets pushed to the back of the mind and isn’t dealt with. Also the issue of global warming is so vast that there is almost no point in trying to solve the problem unless the entire world is on board to make a change. In the reading there were also multiple ideas for solutions to fix this problem. One that stood out to me was the Pigovian Tax. The PIgovian Tax stated that if someone is responsible for generating negative externalities, then they should have to pay for it. This is very similar to a program that is used today that is known as cap-and-trade. In cap-and-trade only a limited amount of companies can produce a certain amount of pollution, and these companies have to get a license for using said pollution. 

The wicked problems website shares the ten characteristics of what makes a wicked problem a wicked problem. These characteristics show that a wicked problem is more than a very hard problem to solve, but almost impossible. The main characteristics that stood out to me were the characteristics one, three, four and six. The first is that  wicked problems have no definitive formulation. This means that a wicked problem could be anything, even an issue that someone couldn’t even fathom. The third characteristic is that solutions to wicked problems can be only good or bad, not true or false. There is no idealized end state to arrive at, and so approaches to wicked problems should be tractable ways to improve a situation rather than solve it. The fourth is that there is no template to follow when tackling a wicked problem. Solving a wicked problem is so difficult because it has never been solved before making it all the more wicked. Finally the sixth characteristic is that every wicked problem is a symptom of another problem. Many wicked problems are interrelated because of their severity. 

A big company that causes a major wicked problem is Forever 21, due to their fast fashion practices. Forever 21’s success has come from their ability to produce trendy fashions at a very quick pace for low prices. Although this method of ‘fast fashion’ has led to many problems in the environment due to the quick and poor production of these clothes. The production of these items causes greenhouse gas emissions as well as major waste. The waste comes from the fast craftsmanship as well as from consumers throwing the products away sooner due to the poor and rushed work that was put into the garment. 

In my research paper I want to address the issue of unnecessary plastic used in the packaging of products. There are many solutions that just aren’t used due to the lack of knowledge about these solutions and the fact that people just don’t want to change the way they are doing things. I believe that this could be fixed by bringing awareness to these issues and showing the many many solutions that go along with these problems.  The wicked problem isn’t directly the harm that plastic causes or finding a replacement, but convincing people to switch to more sustainable practices that could later save our planet.

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