At the beginning of the semester, I never took thought into what “wicked problems” meant. The course name at first made me think that it was about problems that could be faced in career fields related to each program that our college offered. When the first Monday lecture came around, wicked problems were defined exactly what was said: problems that our society faces. Simple examples such as climate change, poverty, deforestation, and such were easy to recognize, but the topic of wicked problems went more into depth and connected the problems to how it affects sustainability.
It was rather interesting to learn about the many wicked problems that exist today. How the acts of humankind had greatly affected the Earth. It was also heartbreaking knowing that the issues we face today could have been prevented or possibly reversed. It also makes me wonder why there hasn’t been much progress to make our environment more sustainable. I was aware of the economic, social, and environmental issues, but wicked problems helped me understand that it is more than just the problem itself, it is what causes it. Another wicked problem can also be about unsustainable behaviors, and how they can affect our well-being.
When I first learned about the deeper aspects of what and how a wicked problem is defined, I learned best through reading articles or study cases. There could be a topic of animal testing and you’ll end up learning how that method is applied to many different industries, making it a wicked problem and unsustainable. That kind of information isn’t something displayed on billboards or advertisements. Knowing that there are individuals out there who have taken recognition into our unsustainable trends is comforting because those issues aren’t entirely ignored. Reading those articles also helped me further understand what sustainability is, and what makes something unsustainable. When I watched “The 11th Hour” film, I noticed that writers and speakers weren’t just touching base on basic climate change and other geographical issues, but they provided the audience the knowledge of why nature is important and explained what we did to make it unhealthy. Not only is our planet affected by these wicked acts, but other species too. We focus too much on advancing our technology and supplying society with products that will only lose value in the future. Without the resources Earth has already provided, we would struggle to continue to evolve.
Technology has become the highest demand in the social and economic trend. With this type of adaption, it could be possible to create the tools to help reverse our acts since our technology can’t mimic the work of nature. Of course, there are products that can help consumers live more of a sustainable life, but there is so much work that needs to be done. It makes me wonder how much it’s going to take to convince consumers to follow the sustainable way. Maybe the reason why some don’t take an interest in wicked problems is because of the market. If there are people who wish to make our environment more sustainable, why should it be at such a high cost? No one will take interest in a healthy change if it is going to cost them. This may be the act of the government and corporations, typically encouraging consumerism daily. If these groups of people didn’t encourage that kind of behavior, maybe we would have been closer to achieving the goal of living in a more sustainable environment.
While diving deeper into this subject, I gained a lot of interest in the mystery behind Easter Island. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure why the history behind the island was considered a wicked problem until I read a piece about the possible theories of what ended the civilization on the small piece of land. I knew the island was most famous for its unusually carved statues, and that was it. When I read those theories, I was immediately hooked and suddenly wanted to learn more about what could’ve happened all those years ago. To learn that the island was inhabited by a small civilization, which could’ve ended in tragedy, made even more sense as to why it was identified as a wicked problem. To summarize the popular theory, Polynesians valued their status on the island rather than focusing on how their materials were quickly running out. This made me think about how our countries differentiated each other. Yes, we all how our own established cultural, economic, social, and cultural values, but it seemed that we were all in competition with each other. Whether it was about who was more technologically advanced, who has the lowest crime rate, or who seemed more financially stable. Is it possible that our countries start viewing each other as competition and start running out of resources? There are already people who are in poverty and those who are in midst of a battle, why haven’t we taken the step to solve those wicked problems?
It become common for me to recognize the wicked problems we face, either new events or ongoing ones. I often think about the ocean habitat and the sea creatures of that home. We use the excuse of riding boats or jets, fishing and traveling overseas to pay attention to what could be happening underwater. And just like sea animals, we neglect other wicked acts, such as hunting and deforestation, that only bring harm to the other beautiful species. In fact, I find humankind quite selfish considering so many people lack empathy. So, I constantly wonder what we can do to change that, and what it will take for people to come to the conclusion that we need to protect our environment. The value of what we think will make us happy has blinded the reality and truth to what actually brings happiness. As our class continued to talk more about the subject, I became more socially aware of the behavior and environment around me. I sometimes wonder if there are others that I know that have the mindset that following a popular trend will fulfill their needs and values. In fact, I tend to think in that way too, and knowing that it meets the criteria of unsustainable behavior, makes me want to change that about myself. Although there are social media platforms that promote mental and physical health, I feel like there aren’t enough people to consider the importance of it. Of course, there will be people who would simply ignore what is good for themselves and the environment, but I believe that those who are aware of these wicked acts, should try to at least take part in bringing change to our world. There are opportunities waiting for us somewhere, we just simply ignore them. Yes, we have accomplished so much since the beginning of civilization, but there are many more beneficial things we can do.