… or so we think.
Behind the booming industries we have in America and the large economic growth, there are many deeper problems facing the world in relation to sustainability. Some of the problems that affect the world are classified as wicked problems. Wicked problems are defined as problems facing a culture or a society that are difficult or nearly impossible to solve. There are many wicked problems facing society today including pollution- air, water, and land- overconsumption, resource shortage, among other things. These wicked problems threaten life on earth and without a great change in how we produce, buy, and sell products, these problems are inevitable. I have always had a passion for advocating for sustainability and by taking the class Wicked Problems of The Industrial Practice, I have really had my eyes opened even more to the problems that face our society and how, ultimately, we are responsible for these problems and for coming up with solutions to fix these seemingly unfixable problems. One of the most important things I have taken away so far from this class is the true impact that humans have had on the environment and the world itself. In looking at past civilizations such as the Easter Island Civilization, we can see how much of an impact people can have on the community and their surroundings and ultimately how people can end a society if not careful. In this case, the Easter Island civilization continued to populate and grow while at the same time not taking care of the soil and environment they lived in. The main contributor to this collapse was deforestation which then quickly led to bad soil to grow crops in to sustain the community. With resources declining and population inclining, individuals began to form tribes to protect resources, which caused mass killings of tribes and, in all, eliminated the entire civilization. This Easter Island collapse is just one of many examples that show the effects of neglecting the environment. This situation among many others helped me to see and relate to a situation in which people fail to see the damage they are doing to the planet while being fully invested in only themselves. This really relates to the topic of mindfulness, one of the topics we covered in depth in the class of Wicked Problems. Mindfulness is one of the greatest tools, in my opinion, in helping to restore sustainability. Mindfulness is defined as being fully aware of one’s own thoughts, actions, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness in relation to the environment is being aware of what is going on around you and realizing that you have a bigger role in society than just yourself. The act of being conscious of what is going on around you leads to being more open to making changes to the environment and essentially bettering it, not only for yourself, but others. Mindfulness can come in many ways, but the main way that I have experienced mindfulness is through meditation. By researching and practicing meditation, I have personally felt more in tune with what is going on around me and how I feel about myself in relation to these issues. Meditation is basically the act of calming oneself down to the point that you can focus on your own thoughts. Through meditation, we can engage our senses and tune them more towards what is going on more directly in our lives. By taking just a few minutes to reflect and contemplate our lives and our surroundings, we can become more mindful of bigger issues than ourselves. For most of my life, I thought sustainability and being environmentally friendly were, to be quite honest, the people that say the cliche things like save the whales and drink from only paper straws. I never really thought in depth about what it meant to be mindful of the environment and the effects we as humans can have on the environment. Since doing more research and making a conscious effort to be aware of my surroundings and the environment, I have realized what it truly means to be more sustainable and what sustainability in society is. Understanding how humans can affect the environment with industrial practices and other things, is really important in contributing to the community. Whether we think so or not, humans have a very great impact on the earth and the environment, to some this impact is positive and for others it is negative. Sustainability as a whole is a variable problem with variable solutions. This means that there are many different views on first of all, whether this is a problem or not, and if so, how we should deal with the problems of environmental changes because of human activity. Now, why are the results of industrial practices bad? For many, the industrial practice brings about many wicked problems in the environment including one of the main ones: pollution. This includes air, water, and land pollution. Along with pollution and overall harm to the environment, industrial practices can bring about other problems such as overconsumption and resource shortage. These indeed are very big problems in relation to the environment and world we live in, however, some see them as minimal issues because of the benefits coming from these practices. These large industries bring about some benefits too, including employment for large amounts of people, and the production of the goods that consumers in society purchase. People have many different opinions of whether the industrial practice has more benefits or more harmful outcomes, but the reality is that there are both ups and downs to the industry. Taking this into account, we should be mindful of how we look at these practices and how we react. One of the most important things that I found within my journey towards sustainability is the power of mindfulness in sustainability. When we are mindful of the environment around us, we can be fully present to see not only the issues, but the successes of industrial practices. The journey towards sustainability is a never ending journey, and for me, it is important to start somewhere. Whether you are an expert or just starting your journey, everyone has to start somewhere and we can all do things to improve not only our own lives, but the lives of others, along with improving the longevity of the world and the environment.