Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

Written by Janine M. Benyus
1. Biomimicry—the conscious emulation of life’s genius. Innovation inspired by nature.
2. In a biomimetic world, we would manufacture the way animals and plants do, using sun and simple compounds to produce totally biodegradable fibers, ceramics, plastics, and chemicals. Our farms, modeled on prairies, would be self-fertilizing and pest-resistant. To find new drugs or crops, we would consult animals and insects that have used plants for millions of years to keep themselves healthy and nourished. Even computing would take its cue from nature, with software that “evolves” solutions, and hardware that uses the lock-and-key paradigm to compute by touch.
3. Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved the problems we are struggling to solve.
4. We are still beholden to ecological laws, the same as any other life-form. The most irrevocable of these laws says that a species cannot occupy a niche that appropriates all resources—there has to be some sharing.
5. 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.
6. “The first thing that strikes us,” says Piper, “is that ninety-nine point nine percent of the plants are perennials. They cover the ground throughout the year, holding the soil against wind and breaking the force of raindrops. Hard rain hits this canopy of plants and it either runs gently down the stems or it turns into a mist. By contrast, when rain hits row crops, it strikes exposed soil, packs it, then runs off, taking precious topsoil with it.”