Mimic This.

Photo by Jeff Croft | flickr.com

The strenuous damage that we have done to this planet may not be reversible. In fact, we may have to write apology letters for the rest of our lives; we may have to beg for the mercy that may never come in our lifetime. 

All the press-released examples of deforestation, oil spills, nuclear mishaps, and carbon dioxide emissions may show that we have little respect for nature.  However, with the new field of ‘biomimicry’ exploding before our eyes, I assure you that if we want to survive, we better start showing some respect!

It has long been known that the answers to human problems lie within the palms of nature: winged birds taught us how to fly, fish inspired submarines, and butterflies aroused the curiosity for light/heat reflecting materials. 

This desire to imitate the chemistry of nature to make products that ease our lives is but a simple reflection that natural world holds the key to the sustenance of human life. But if we want to learn from the planet, we ought to respect and take care of it, no?  

The core idea is that nature, imaginative by obligation and creative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the accomplished engineers: they have found what works, what is suitable, and most importantly, what lasts here on Earth. According to the Biomimicry Institute “this is the secret behind biomimicry: After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival”.

Ever wonder why bacteria don’t grow upon the skins of sharks? Well, the answer primarily lies in the special texture of their outermost coating.  This special texture has now been implemented by paint companies in order to keep bacteria off of ships and boats. Biomimicry.

Biomimicry, from ‘bios’ (meaning life) and ‘mimesis’ (meaning to imitate) “studies nature's best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems”.

One of the newest implications for this field is studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell.  We all know that green leaves exact the sun’s rays to produces energy. But why is it that duckweeds are better capable of undergoing this process?  Perhaps if we study the underlying mechanisms, we can develop better solar technology.  I suppose it is nothing less than innovation inspired by nature.

Some people believe that biomimicry is another way to exploit nature –another way to get out of technological messes by creating more technological messes. 

But environmental scientists agree that this new field isn’t out to exploit nature. Instead, it is a way for us to learn from nature with the goal of undoing damage and living more harmoniously with the planet.

I believe that this innovative way of thinking and deeper understanding of the Earth can lead to countless successes, successes that will replenish this place we call home.