“Green Economics: How We Can Afford to Tackle Climate Change” had some intriguing insights into the climate change issue. It focused on the economics of it all, rather than merely stating that the problem was our fault and so we were the ones who needed to deal with it. It mentions that scientists knew this was going to happen, that they told us, but we didn’t believe them. There are now predictions that things will get worse, but still we refuse to listen. Is it just because we feel that “ignorance is bliss”? Or do we just not want to acknowledge that we need to actually do something if we want to keep living here? We watched a video in class that said that we would need three to five planets in order to keep living in the way that we are now. But we only have one, so what should we do? Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, but instead will just delay and expand the consequences we are facing. That was the main point of this final reading. They talk about how we cannot put a price on emission output in the same way that we can with other things, since we cannot measure it accurately. They go on to talk about the costs of action and inaction, and the political atmosphere that is limiting change. The political figures should be the ones that recognize the problem more than anyone else, but since they don’t want to face possibly losing office over a ‘wrong’ choice to pursue climate restoration, they won’t help. The solution is simple and ties in with the takeaway from the last reading: Change must be started from the top levels of institution in order to make a difference at the bottom. The political level is the uppermost level we have, so that is where the change needs to start.
This week we explored a website focused on wicked problems and their solutions. This website talks a lot about what a wicked problem is and why they are worth solving. I found this website very interesting an informative. I think it’s a great concept because before this class I had no idea what a wicked problem was, and I’m sure most other people don’t know what it is either. This website is very informative and will give people a great understanding of what makes a problem wicked so that they can help to define and solve wicked problems themselves. One thing that really stood out to me about the website was that there were so many different tabs in the table of contents. I know wicked problems are extensive, but the level of research that went into creating this site is extensive. Current state analysis was also discussed in this week’s lecture, and I found this interesting because it seems like it would work to solve wicked problems. Even if it didn’t work to completely solve one problem, it would help to identify what actually needs to be solved. It defines the problem, which is something that is hard to do with wicked problems, and then it classifies the drivers to that problem, both direct and indirect. This would help us to see exactly what is causing the problem to know where to start working. It then tells us to conduct casual chain analysis and assess the impact extent and trends of relevant drivers. This part is interesting to me because it has some experimentation to it. You aren’t just looking at the problem and identifying the pieces, you are actually trying to figure out what is happening at each step of the problem. You break it down to see every little piece that is causing problems in the machine, you don’t just say that it’s broken. This allows you to achieve the next step, which is pinpointing the factors that influence human activities. Looking at each piece more closely allows us to know how we are influenced by the factors of the problem. This is also really important to help us define the problem more specifically, since it allows us to see the factors influencing the problem. The final step in this analysis is identifying the indicators. All these steps together allow us to get a more comprehensive view of our problem and can in the end help us solve it faster and easier. Another thing that really stood out to me in the lecture this week was about scenarios versus visions. Scenarios are plausible futures while visions are desirable and sustainable futures. Both are appealing, but there is one that stands out much as much better than the other. We all have visons for the future. We want these perfect lives where we are rich and famous with a career, but we view scenarios in a very different light. Usually, scenario is used in the phrasing “worst case scenario.” This doesn’t usually let us think in a desirable and sustainable way, which I found very interesting. We seem to have redefined the word to mean something bad, when really it should be something we look forward to. Social entrepreneurship is something that isn’t very common, but something we need more of. Social entrepreneurship is doing business for a social cause, which means doing business in a way that improves the lives of the people connected to that cause. Businesses are not big on helping other people nowadays. The big corporations are focused on being the biggest and the richest, but don’t seem to care how that affects that people that are connected. Social entrepreneurship is just the opposite. They don’t care as much about being the biggest and richest, but instead focus on helping others. This is one of those examples of starting at the top and making change happen from the top down. One social entrepreneur I follow actually made his money through a corporate business. He didn’t start at the top, but instead worked to be where he is now and can now help others through that new status. You have probably heard the name Elon Musk. He is one of the most famous social-entrepreneurs, right up there with Bill Gates. Both use their status and money to help others. They have so much that they can give and have stopped focusing on themselves to selflessly help others. Elon Musk is now helping move the world away from gas powered vehicles with Tesla. He is not doing this to help himself, but is doing it to benefit future generations. This is a solution to a wicked problem, except suddenly we have the means to help minimize it. Tesla is doing just that by popularizing electric cars: solving a wicked problem. Less gas emissions into the atmosphere will equal less climate change and even reversal of that change if the future keeps following their lead.
I knew nothing about wicked problems coming into this class. I had never even heard of them before. I knew that certain problems were harder to solve, but I never really understood why. I know now that wicked problems are so much more complex than ordinary problems. I know that sustainability is key to solving a lot of them. There are so many problems in the world that choosing even one wicked problem to research seemed like a daunting task, but know that I know that it is possible to actually solve these problems, it doesn’t seem quite so arduous. I feel that I have learned so much from this class, and I hope to continue to learn more about the wicked problems facing our world in the future. Because our world is one worth saving, isn’t it?