I hadn’t come across the ideas of biomimicry before a year ago, until I attended a forum at Bucknell University with Neri Oxman - part material ecologist part biomimic. She got me thinking about design and how we can engineer infrastructure to be mutually beneficial, all while using techniques pioneered by nature.
If you haven’t heard about Janine Benyus, it’s about time you have. Janine has been at the forefront of biomimicry for a number of years now. She co-founded the Biomimicry Institute, which has morphed into various projects, including its current form as Biomimcry 3.8, a global network of scientists, thinkers, and consultants working together and learning from nature in order to solve humanity’s biggest challenges.
This TED talk is from Oxford in 2009, in which Janine gives examples of nature’s uncanny ability to perform complex tasks seamlessly and effortlessly. My favorite example, among many, is the Namibian Desert beetle’s evolutionary ability to collect water molecules from fog and turn it into drinking water for sustenance.
It is important to realize that for all of our strengths as humans, we are still a part of nature. For thousands of years, humans have been scared of nature because its complexities exist beyond our understanding. Our fear has continually given us humans the pretext to attempt to conquer nature and control its complexity. However, as we are discovering, the harder we push against nature, the harder it fights back. We must embrace the complexities of nature and learn from its intelligence so that we can inhabit Earth in an effective and mutually beneficial way.
By taking holistic views of our infrastructures and process, we might be able to conduct humanity in an efficient, productive way that benefits the planet and effortlessly connects us back to our nature.
Enjoy the inspirational talk!