Biomimicry


Biomimicry is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today. The word itself was coined by Janine Benyus in 1997, a biologist and co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, and originates from the Greek bios (life) and mimesis (imitation). 

The main goal is to create products, processes as well as policies that solve humans’ greatest challenges sustainably and in solidarity with all life on earth. This is possible because if we think of “what it is truly sustainable, the only real model that has worked over long periods of time is the natural world” as Janine pointed out. In this sense, biomimicry brings relief, gives us hope for solving climate change because the solutions are here, accessible, and, most important, validated by the many species still alive today. Furthermore, a new sensibility towards the natural world rises: valuing nature for what we can learn, not what we can extract, harvest or domesticate. We can learn about ourselves and our connection to the mother Earth. 



How does nature solve this? This is the typical question that biomimicry researches ask themselves. By using nature as a mentor, we do not need to invent strategies to tackle the challenges of, for example, a more efficient use of energy or the removal of the excessive amount of C02 already in the atmosphere. We just need to learn how to adapt the strategies already used by the natural organisms in our daily life. 

To provide concrete examples, the particular and innovative shape of the Shinkansen Bullet Train of the West Japan Railway works perfectly. In 1989, Japan’s Bullet Train was fast but had a problem: every time it exited a tunnel it was loud because it pushed waves of atmospheric pressure through the other end forcing the air exited tunnels with a sonic boom (potentially heard 400 meters away). The Kingfisher came to help: the unique shape of its beak allows it to jump into water while barely making a splash. The development team took that shape and when the redesigned train debuted it was 10 % faster, used 15% less electricity and stayed under the 70 decibel (dB) noise limit in residential areas.  
There are thousands of examples that demonstrate this powerful way of innovation. Nature and all its organisms teach us daily. What we just need to do is to observe, understand the astonishing strategies behind all the natural processes, and adapt them for the global challenges. With respect.  

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