This isn’t my first time learning about the extreme effects of climate change. However, every time I reopen myself back to learning about climate change, it’s still just as shocking and overwhelming. My old environmental science teacher told me that it never gets easier to digest. The more you look into climate change and the effects, you don’t get used to it. It’s still uncomfortable, which is why we need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I held onto that advice when going on my first day of lecture learning about sustainability’s wicked problems. It was quite painful hopping on iceberg after iceberg of issues realizing the issue isn’t what you can see resting above the water. But below us, the iceberg of problems ascending miles below the surface. That’s what makes a problem wicked.
Wicked Problems isn’t a complicated puzzle. It’s a labyrinth, an endless maze that you can’t escape and continually shifting the more you try to find your way to the finish line. Only a fool will go in and expect themselves to walk to the finish line. A wicked problem needs to be treated as such. This is why wicked problem solvers don’t charge headfirst, expecting to solve the issue at hand. Wicked problem solvers approach a wicked problem and slowly aid and fix the small issues and slowly work their way inward, knowing there is no finish line. Wicked Problem solvers get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Knowing one can’t solve climate change is draining and discouraging, but it isn’t an excuse to not try.
Most environmental activism I’ve come across has an all or nothing approach to sustainability. Do nothing and be blind to the effects of climate change or go head first into climate change and fight to the finish line. Which is ironic, approaching sustainability in a nonsustainable way. These fighters burn out quickly and become overwhelmed and feel defeated and give up altogether. They come across the acknowledgment of a wicked problem and don’t know how to shape themselves and turn away in defeat.
The 11th-hour documentary put that in perspective for its audience that there is no answer. There are no solutions. There are holes in our knowledge of climate change, which is okay. 11th-hour makes it very clear that it isn’t our job to solve the issue. But leave a mark, and that small dent in the problem is essential because this can lead somewhere. The documentary made it clear we as humans are blind to our future from 5 years to 100 years. Humans are numb to the idea of the effects climate change can have on our future selves and our future generations. But maybe that small dent can give some ease and hope for the next generation of wicked problem solvers.