Biomimicry – could it solve our environmental issues?
I’ve always been a great fan of the power of nature.
Nature rarely gets things wrong and she has a lot to teach us.
I have a feeling biomimicry is going to be the science of the future and will help us solve many of the environmental problems we are facing. Nature has already solved many of the problems we are struggling to find solutions for if only we’d take time to observe and learn.
The engineers of our planet are the animals, plants and microbes and let’s face it, they have a few billion years of experience to share with us!
Any failures are fossils and everything surrounding us holds the secret to survival.
This week I learned that sea urchins have self-honing teeth which allow them to chomp through stone, carving out hideaways on rocky shores.
Scientists have now learned how the urchins keep their teeth razor-sharp and believe that technology based on the same principle could create everlasting bladed tools.
Ok, so that’s not exactly going to save the world (although it could be handy to have tools that could actually sharpen themselves with use) but how many more models, systems, processes, and elements seen in nature could be utilised in our own lives so that we can co-operate rather than compete? Does nature hold the answers to a sustainable future?
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Permaculture is a great example. Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies. In its simplest form you might plant shade loving crops in the shadows of taller sun-loving crops in your garden.
Another great example of permaculture is the ‘three sisters’ where sweetcorn is grown to provide a natural pole for beans to climb. Next to the beans and corn squash vines are planted which provide ground cover – shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving all crops chance of survival.
And did you know the solar panel was inspired by a leaf or that groups of emperor penguins save energy and protect from the cold during incubation thanks to social huddling? Now there’s an excuse for lots of hugs!
Check out AskNature, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community.