Climate Change The Super Wicked

By: mrpuertorico , 6:08 PM GMT on July 13, 2014

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Ok so after a long hiatus of intense research I am back to my blog to begin sharing my knowledge and my progress on my thesis, and on design's role in Climate Change Solutions.

So where i left off was in the first stage of the design process; identifying (or defining the problem) the problem. What is Climate Change? Which i define as being a wicked problem, which i also explained on my last post in my original main blog page Link on the feburary 16th update. In that last post i mentioned climate change as being actually labeled "Super Wicked."

So What does that mean?



Super Wicked Problems:


In the paper Playing it Forward: Path Dependency, Progressive Incrementalism, and the “Super Wicked” Problem of Global Climate Change by Kelly Levin, Benjamin Cashore, Steven Bernstein, and Graeme Auld 2010. The authors define super wicked as having four key features:

1. Time is running out
2. weak or non-existent central authority
3. those who are causing the problem are also working on the solution
4. and hyperbolic discounting which only focuses on short term solutions that only push the problem forward into the future instead of developing short term solutions that strengthen future action.

"Far from presenting a lost cause, we argue that super wicked problems require greater attention
to the generation of “path dependent” policy interventions. To accomplish this, scholars of global
and domestic environmental governance and policy ought to devote greater energy to identifying
policy options that directly address the human tendency toward hyperbolic discounting – i.e., the
tendency to discount the future even more than what is deemed economically rational." (Levin, 2010)

In my design classes hyperbolic discounting has been rephrased as Short-term-ism.

So how does climate change measure up to the wicked problems definition?

1. Time is running out
Well we all have read or heard in current media publications and tv documentaries that time is running out for finding solutions to climate change. As the paper states "Climate change is arguably the most illustrative case of time running out."

2. weak or non-existent central authority
Here also all you have to do is watch the comments coming out of our current community and national leaders in state and federal positions and hear the partisan rhetoric that has turned climate change into a political foot ball, and even though the president has created a climate policy push in the Presidential Climate Action Plan, the truth is that as long as politics interferes with climate change solutions progress will be slow.

3. those who are causing the problem are also working on the solution
That's right i for one am responsible for the current state of our climate. I have a car, i have flown in planes, i get energy from coal fired plants etc. etc. etc. But my current awareness has already begun to shift my thinking in new directions (but i am jumping ahead of myself more on that in other posts sorry).

4. Hyperbolic discounting
This is the essence of wicked problems and long term systems, or design thinking (again to be discussed on a later post). We (humans) tend to think in the now and not on the future of now. It is this type of thinking that has brought us into our current dilemma, and we as a society will need to adapt or systems and problem planning and solving to include long term thinking strategies, or else we run the risk of our solutions creating even more problems down the road.

Well that's it for this week ill try to be a bit more proactive with this blog from now on, especially now that i am entering the primary research phase of my thesis.


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1. ronnm
8:06 PM GMT on July 13, 2014
Just a thought.

Human response to problems is rarely well thought.
As RR has mentioned the Syrian crisis can be pretty directly related to a drought which has hit the area in historic proportions. Are any in that area or tasked with remediation of the problem considering that? I would say no, not a one.

Under the gun one rarely considers who owns the gun gun control what type of gun is this and all the rest.
As such in pre war Germany the tale of the Nazis was written in economic malaise of great depression and economic and political sanctions as result of the first world war. But who though to act upon those things?

More and more will be the political events that result from this thing. Typically as result will be more and more attention to the specifics of the events, the refugees, the wars, the floods and drought. With the exceptions of the great typhoon and hurricanes relatively little will be devoted to this issue.
It is prime mover but will be little thought of as such. Refugees in the numbers of millions will ensue which now are thousands. So who will think global warming when they are thinking how to control our lands and manage our refugees. Very few, mainly only those in the field.

So there is plainly no hope. The problems will now appear in such a magnitude, the wars and such it will evolve all our time and little will be devoted to management of the real inceptor of those problems.
Such is humanity. Your implied hope is ill founded.

It is just my opinion so it holds no more water than yours. Just to be informing there is another opinion on our prognosis.
Member Since: May 31, 2014 Posts: 3 Comments: 71

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About mrpuertorico

I am a Designer and Climate Change solutions activist. I love the sea, and i really love body boarding.

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