Wicked Problems

Someone asked me the other day if I’d ever heard the phrase “wicked problems.” I had to say I’d not heard the phrase ... ‘though the idea of some problems being “wicked” is not a big stretch, exactly.

In fact I can think of so many wicked problems right off the top of my head that maybe I should just hop on my bike right now (I’m in a coffee shop after doing errands a medium-ish bike-ride away from home) & head out for some more bike & outside time.


& shoot, I totally get that my own life is quite frankly a cakewalk, pretty much. Sure, I’ve had a problem or challenge or awkward period or year or two along the way – but really? A cakewalk.

But OK. Rather than “chicken out” (no offense meant to any chicken lovers), I’ll mention one of the “wicked problems” or issues I am rassling with right now.

(Not the work I do – anti-nuclear activism – which even on a “good” day can send one down a rabbit hole of frustration or even despair – but you know, a person enjoys a challenge, hmmm??

Not some of the personal stuff on my plate these days. Like everyone, I’ve got a thorny challenge or two to deal with.)

It’s this one:

It’s this really really REALLY big elephant in the room.

NTE (near-term extinction) or NTHE (near-term human extinction). More & more people think our species is down to its last legs, pretty much.

I’ve been an activist for 25 years now. Got into it believing that if enough of us did enough work, rolled up our sleeves, as it were, informed enough people about the problems, everyone would “wake up” & fix things up.

I was soooooo naïve.

Gradually, after working on a variety of issues over a decently long period of time, I had to accept that “fixing things up” was a little beyond us. I’ve heard some say “civilization” has been like a run-away train, & that this outcome was inevitable. Must say, this view now seems utterly plausible to me.

Many activists of my acquaintance have not embraced the idea of NTE/NTHE (publicly, at any rate), & for sure I know we all gotta do what we gotta do. (I for one gotta continue doing anti-nuclear work. Living in the shadow of 2 gigantic nuclear plants? I just gotta keep at it.)

I do get that NTE doesn’t make for easy “cocktail conversation,” to say the very least – or even everyday conversation.

Bit of a bummer, the topic, eh??

Heh heh.

NTE is definitely one of those “wicked problems” – or hmmmm. Maybe only to spiritually un-evolved types like me. Maybe it’s a cakewalk to the spiritually evolved. I dunno. Whatever. I am clearly not “spiritually evolved.” Whatever that may mean.

Anyway. Listen.

I’m going to hop back on my bike & enjoy this great day.

Not all days seem “great” – but this one sure does!

Off I go to enjoy it.

NTE/NTHE can wait.

It will still be with us tomorrow.

Heh heh.


p.s. lots of thoughtful discussion about NTE on the ‘Nature Bats Last’ blog. This particular posting is the one that first introduced me to the topic. Well. Not the topic, exactly. The term, shall we say. When I look back through old blog postings & other writings over the years, I can see that my fears about the human race not making it are, shall we say, not new.

p.p.s. I see more & more thoughtful pieces being written on this topic. I’m going to post a listing with a goodly # of them, & then I’ll keep adding to it as time goes on. (You see, it seems that for some of us, not talking about NTHE is the only way to go. For others of us, sheer simple truth-telling is very compelling. & helpful. Even & simply necessary.)

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Hoard each joyous moment that comes to you. No one knows how it will all end.” – Háfiz

** lots of great quotations in a large variety of categories gathered up under the ‘Quotation Central!’ heading!