What is sustainability you may ask? It is the ability to avoid the depletion of natural resources. This definition has evolved over time as we are now more environmentally conscious, previously it might have been defined as not to take more than you can give back. Over time, as we gain more knowledge we learn new definitions and seek answers to new problems, some of which can be defined as a wicked problem. Unlike tame problems that have a quick correct solution, wicked problems are ongoing problems that a solution is difficult to agree on as it might be in a gray zone where not one solution is correct. These problems can be defined by six characteristics; vague problem definitions, variable solutions, and solutions that have no endpoint, pose irreversible effects, require unique approaches, and are urgent. Not one characteristic is more important than the other as they all require resolutions. Some of these wicked problems such as climate change were discussed in the 11th hour documentary. Climate change I would say is one of the most urgent wicked problems as it affects all other problems in some way. For example it affects biodiversity loss as the arctic is melting, which will cause species such as the polar bear to become extinct as they cannot adapt to another climate zone. This is all caused by our society as we believe nature can be converted into a resource and that all resources are infinite which is not the case. This reliance on nature providing for us is a key takeaway of the 11th hour documentary as it is talked about highly. This belief has caused us to not prioritize taking care of our environment and rather prioritize our economy.
This is gone more into depth in the Rittel-Webber reading. Its main takeaways are about how as a society we struggle more than ever to solve wicked problems. One reason is because we do not all share the same value system. These values create our paradigms, or the way in which we view the world. For example, some of us view climate change as extremely urgent while others simply don’t believe it’s occurring so it makes solutions to these problems even more difficult. It is important to consider our self narrative and paradigms when talking about wicked problems, because what we view as a perfect solution may not be right for another person, however we do need to think of our intergenerational responsibility to make good decisions for the future generations to come and that means taking care of the world around us. We can do this by decreasing our carbon footprint. Currently mine sits at 101 tons CO2/year, which is better than 4% of people but is still not great. I can work to decrease my impact on the environment by carpooling places, remembering to turn off the lights, etc. and I think we as a society should attempt too. With that being said, in my career I want to work to limit fast fashion and look for more sustainable ways to produce clothing such as repurposing them. So much clothing ends up in landfills, but if we took those clothes and turned that fabric into new clothes then we would be limiting the waste which is what I want to do. We as a society have been conditioned by large corporations to consume more than what we need, purely because of the low cost and the belief that I can get more for the same amount of money as before. We need to change this and instead buy lower volumes of clothes at a higher price. These goods would be higher quality and therefore would last longer and wouldn’t have to be replaced every 6 months. In conclusion, we only have one world so we need to take care of it while we can.