Wicked Problems VS The Earth’s Health

Sustainability has always been an extremely important topic to me. I come from a family that is extremely environmentally conscious. I am used to having 5 different recycle bins and donating literally anything that has the potential to be reused. My mom always said, sustainability, sustainability, blah, blah, blah. Being an angsty teenager living at home, I really did not understand or care to understand the meaning of the word she so commonly used. My original understanding of sustainability was just simply to recycle trash, however there is so much more to it. Sustainability is all about comfortably living on our Earth and supporting our surroundings instead of depleting them. It is so much more than just putting plastic in a blue bin. It is about knowing when you have enough and being responsible for the resources you are using. To be sustainable we have to sacrifice lavish living for the health of our world. The more we use, the worse shape we are putting the Earth in. Now this may not seem like a huge problem. Who cares if we have trash in our water or if our planet is warming up a degree? The answer is everyone should because it will someday affect all of our families. These tiny issues like not recycling that one cup can actually turn into something known as wicked problems. In our world we have two main types of world issues, wicked problems and tame problems. Tame problems are just like what they sound. They are tame and can be solved easily or with not a lot of effort. Wicked problems are issues in this world that can not be easily solved or are big governmental issues. These problems can be seen as extremely scary. Nobody wants a worldwide issue that can not be solved in a lifetime. Some wicked problems include global warming or deforestation. These issues are detrimental to our world and will take life times to improve or “fix”.  There are 6 main characteristics of a wicked problem which are listed below.

  1. Vague problem definitions
  2. Variable solutions
  3. Solutions have no end point
  4. Solutions pose irreversible effects
  5. Solutions require unique approaches
  6. They are urgent 

One characteristic that sticks out to me the most is vague problem definitions. This stands out to me because that phrase is implying that individuals are having trouble pinpointing the main problem. If the problem is hard to identify then the solution will be even more impossible to find. I believe all 6 characteristics have equal importance. Wicked problems can be a bit hard to identify. These characteristics help individuals identify what these problems are and why they are so wicked.

 During class we had to watch a documentary called “The 11th Hour”. This documentary highlighted what wicked problems are and some real life examples. This documentary was extremely eye opening for me. It went into immense detail about global warming and other extremely wicked problems we are enduring. I never truly understood the health of hour Earth until this video. Every harmful action we have has an equal consequence. As a world we need to come together to try and help our Earth. If we do not our future families will not be able to survive.

Rittel Webbers article informs the readers about wicked problems and why you can not precisely plan a solution. The main takeaway I got from this is that wicked problems are extremely complicated and can not be solved in a lifetime. It is our responsibility to make the Earth the cleanest world for our future generations. Taking intergenerational responsibility is extremely vital to the health of our Earth. Having the mind set “i’ll be dead by then” is extremely selfish and inconsiderate. It is important to think about the other generations when it comes to wicked problems. Why should we destroy the Earth and then hand it off to other people to fix? It is our job as humans to take care of this world and do everything we can to help solve the problems we created. 

When I took the carbon footprint test I got a 10 as my score. To give more detail on this test, it is a fill in the black quiz that tests the amount of resources you use. The score, 10, was a bit higher than I anticipated but after seeing the average americans score I felt a bit better. Overall everyone should do everything they can to lower the score. This class informed me on what sustainability is and why it is so important. Without this lecture I would have no clue what wicked problems are. I have learned so much in the last two weeks and I can not wait to keep enhancing that!

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