“We must draw our standards from the natural world. We must honour with humility the wise bounds of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence.”
– Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
The other day I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing a woman for our podcast who could perhaps save the world. Did I get your attention? Well, it turns out that this is no exaggeration. Janine Benyus is a biologist, the author of the astounding book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and one of the leading figures in the biomimicry movement. And she has something to say.
In this age of looming ecological and health disasters, where the need for solutions has never been more acute, Benyus offers up a blindingly simple truth: Nature has been doing systematic and comprehensive research and development into sustainable solutions to the entire gamut of life problems–for 3.8 billion years.
The titles of her book chapters alone tell a story. Here are a few:
How will we feed ourselves?
How will we harness energy?
How will we make things?
How will we heal ourselves?
How will we store what we learn?
How will we conduct business?
The answers to all of these questions exist all around us in nature, in brilliant and myriad forms. In fact, the title of this blog series could be something like “Right Under Our Noses.”
Western Science and the Industrial Revolution have mistakenly, and disastrously, placed us above nature, as though our technologies were superior to what the natural world has to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Termites in Africa craft ventilation systems out of spit and glue (literally) to keep the entire mound, a city unto itself, at a constant optimal temperature for its citizens.
There exists a species of shark that unlike others, is not covered in critters; scientists have discovered that the structure of its skin repels bacteria naturally.
Botanists and ecologists have learned that trees in the forest are not competitive, they are deeply interconnected and collaborative, sharing information and resources as a community in order to remain alive for thousands of years.
Our podcast will come out in March, and we won’t be editing a single second of the 30-minute conversation with Janine Benyus. In the meantime, I encourage you to order her book on Amazon.
Next week we’ll upload a second article where we delve into the fascinating chapter “How will we conduct business?” Until then, here is a quote from the eminent biologist:
“Unlike the Industrial Revolution, the Biomimicry Revolution introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but what we can learn from her.”
Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only the energy it needs.
Nature fits form to function.
Nature recycles everything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excesses from within.
Nature taps the power of limits.