Thursday, May 19, 2011

Biomimicry: possibilities only limited by nature itself

Biomimicry is the emulation of natural forms and processes to solve human problems.  The tremendous diversity of the natural world has a seemingly infinite number of forms and processes that naturally and often passively take care of everyday problems we encounter as humans.  Water filtration, pollution control, recycling, antibacterial surfaces, waterproofing, water transportation, and water conservation are only a few of the processes that organisms do everyday seemingly without notice.  These are also processes humans deal with everyday.  Biomimicry is an amazingly diverse field of study incorporating nearly every field of study including biology (of course), math, physics, electronics, art, sociology, business, and the list goes on.  We have barely scratched the surface of this science.  In a sense, biomimicry is as Johann Kepler said "Thinking God's thoughts after him", and then using them for our benefit.  The potential of this scientific field of study is only limited by the tremendous diversity and complexity of the natural world.

A number of organizations and people are beginning to tap the natural world in hopes of finding something to mimic.  The Biomimicry Institute is one of those organizations, with the goal of "inspiring, educating, and connecting biomimics throughout the world."  They have a very good website you can check out here:

Janine Benyus is one of the pioneers of this movement.  She has authored a number of books including one on biomimicry and frequently gives lectures on the subject.  She has given several TED lectures over the past several years.  Here is one of her latest ones, and is both interesting and inspiring.

As I have been thinking about biomimicry I realized it is already in use in many different situations, even when we don't realize it.  I personally am interested in ecomimicry, which I think is much easier for the average person out there.  Permaculture I believe is a form of ecomimicry, mimicking ecosystems and their processes.  Permaculture mimics ecosystem processes through landscaping and gardening in order to create a "permanent culture", or rather a sustainable culture.  By mimicking natures use of water conservation, shade, sunlight, planting, soil processes and structures we can create a better, healthier environment.

1 comment:

  1. Wild Design: The Ecomimicry Project, by Alan Marshall (2009) North Atlantic Books.