Float Like a Butterfly – With Janine Benyus

Can we mimic nature and pull our way out of environmental disasters. Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute says, yes, and can prove it.

Humans are social beings, mimicking each other from the moment they tumble into the world. To say as much isn’t really to say too much. It’s something an army of developmental psychologists have written about and followed over the years.

Marketeers understand this very well. It’s how trends gain legs. We emulate what’s cool. We emulate who’s cool. We’ll even throw on a musky cologne precisely because we’re social beings emulating what and who’s cool.

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If we can’t be like Mike, at least we can smell like him. Or Paris. Or Beyonce. Or Carlos Santana (Ed. Note: we have to admit we didn’t know about this one… and look forward to discovering what a sweaty guitarist actually smells like).

Understood differently, we like to point out Mark Earls’ simultaneously enlightening and frightening thesis that we’re merely herd animals. (Ed. Note: Enlightening because it tells us why the iPod takes off. Frightening because it gives a sense of why mob-mentality is always on the horizon).

So while we’re social creatures mimicking those around and about us, there’s very little that points to how we emulate — and learn from that which is beyond us. Very little, indeed, about how we interact with our actual environment. Very little about how we, as humans, understand our human experience as two-legged bipeds in a race for survival on an indifferent spinning globe.

If we bring it a step further, while we’re known to emulate the humans around us, there’s not much to suggest that we emulate the nature around us. And when we actually do, our language constructs it in the negative: don’t eat like a pig, don’t monkey around, don’t be a chicken, don’t chew like a cow.

Sometimes it takes the brunt voice of a biologist to slap us into cognition.

Like say, Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute and author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.

Biomimicry is a design idea that specifically looks at — and emulates — naturally occuring phenomena in order to develop sustainable technologies. Examples include those Janine mentions in the video above, as well as air conditioning inspired by termite’s ability to build homes that maintain constant temperatures despite existing in extreme conditions; creating adhesive glue from mussels; and the development of hyper-strong fibers by emulating spider’s silk.

Beijing’s famed Water Cube reached new heights in environmental design in part by using the natural formation of bubbles in soap foam to help insulate it.

While the industry is young, its environmental, social and economic impact is increasingly considerable with both industries and communities clamoring for cleaner, greener, more natural carbon neutral solutions to our everyday needs.

And perhaps, as more people focus on design processes biomimicry, the linguistics of emulation will change. Perhaps, one of these days, it’ll be just fine to eat like a pig.

3 thoughts on “Float Like a Butterfly – With Janine Benyus”

  1. I heard an article on Biomimicry on the radio recently and it has me “buzzing”. At last i have something i can hang my hat on. It seems mankind only has to embrace this technology and we can solve so many problems. Call me a S.N.A.G. but so many of man’s problems get me down and i literally cry out for mankind to wake up before Mother Nature turns the screw right down on us. I have never felt so positive about “our” future – more power to biomimicry
    keep smiling and larfin
    neil brew

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