A self-proclaimed nature nerd, Janine Benyus is the author

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Transcript A self-proclaimed nature nerd, Janine Benyus is the author

Biomimicry (the topic): Very Exciting
Great (old??) idea!!!
Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all
masters, are laboring in vain. - Leonardo Da Vinci
New word + level of understanding??
Google Benyus (bad news??)
Spelling error on MS word (more bad news??)
Part of bigger picture  Biotechnology??
The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved
many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes
are the consummate engineers. – Biomimicry Institute
A self-proclaimed nature nerd, Janine Benyus is the author of Biomimicry:
Innovation Inspired by Nature, a book that has galvanized scientists, architects,
designers and engineers into exploring new ways in which nature's successes
can inspire humanity.
Other books: Beastly Behaviours, The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern
U.S., The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats in the Western U.S.,Northwoods Wildlife: A
Watcher’s Guide to Habitats.
Degrees in Natural Resource Management and English Literature/Writing (Rutgers)
In the world envisioned by science author Janine Benyus, a locust's
ability to avoid collision within a roiling cloud of its brethren informs
the design of a crash-resistant car; a self-cleaning leaf inspires a
new kind of paint, one that dries in a pattern that enables simple
rainwater to wash away dirt; and organisms capable of living
without water open the way for vaccines that maintain potency even
without refrigeration -- a hurdle that can prevent life-saving drugs
from reaching disease-torn communities.
Most important, these cool tools from nature pull off their tricks while
still managing to preserve the environment that sustains them, a
life-or-death lesson that humankind is in need of learning.
Much more than a reporter, Benyus is a champion of biomimicry;
she's become one of the most important voices in a new wave of
designers and engineers inspired by nature.
"The sophisticated, almost pro-growth angle of Benyus shows the
great potential profitability of copying some of nature's time-tested,
nonpolluting, room-temperature manufacturing and computing
technologies."New York Times
Biomimicry (the book)
Innovation Inspired by Nature
 Energy!!! (and Water??)
 Manufacturing
 Health and Medicine
 Computing??
 Business??
 Call to Action??
My Comments on “Biomimicry”
On Form:
Excellent writing style and language. Her language degree serves her well. Nice choice of “juicy” words in places
where the content could become dry very quickly. No clear rational for the sequencing of topics or the choice of
the titles of the chapters.
On Content:
Some technical issues get quickly complicated for the unsuspecting reader. No clear picture of where we stand in
the big picture. Appears to have changed her philosophy while compiling the different chapters. Book may have
taken over 10 years to complete.
Interesting comment about the economics around the Exxon Valdez (281), and Quantum Theory Philosophy (227)
Recent Progress of Biomimicry:
Some interesting success stories but mainly for marginal gains: example: in aero or hydrodynamics. Nothing
dramatic in photosynthesis for harvesting hydrogen or carbon dioxide.
Can this approach save us from the threat of global warming consequences?
Not in the way it is presented in this book. The speeds of discovery and change seem to extremely slow and it is
not clear how far we are from breakthrough components.
Is it moving us in the right direction?
Getting inspiration from the “natural” way to handle some of the burning problems of energy and water in order to
solve them effectively with one system is great. Arguing that all the population on earth will or should convert to a
“nature” loving cult is extreme. Some of us are happy to do this but we are nowhere near a majority. The prospect
of a cataclysmic catastrophe (drowning billions of people) triggered by global warming appears to be a potential
cleansing experience for nature and explicitly presented in this book as a “hitting a wall” situation for humanity.
The urgency of doing something to avert the catastrophe does not appear to be an important topic for the book. I
am concerned about the social dimensions of this message.
Nature’s way of introducing change and evolution is wise but the human ability to catalyze change through much
quicker information exchanges and design/production of new systems is ignored as reality (except in a negative
sense). The spiritual, artistic and social complexities of humanity are downplayed as a strong component of
evolution. Although humans have been very arrogant in the monopolizing of the rational and decisions on
resource use, we still need some credit for having reached the point to be able to do it!
I have the same concern I had with all the previous books. They do not seem to be able to put their philosophy
and teachings in the context of the big picture and/or be inclusive in their plans for most of the population.
Sustainability: What is the Question?
 Only the “natural” way??
 Allowable Footprints??
 Stop Human Contributions to Global
 Alleviate Global Warming Impacts??
 Moving in the “Right” Direction??
Practical Issues
How do we decide on the line of action??
How are technologies/solutions diffused??
Is there a transition time limit??
The dimensions of the sustainability:
 Biological??
 Chemical??
 Social??
 Philosophical/Ethical??
 Political/System??
Range of Responses to the
Sustainability Challenge
Mine (!) this planet and move to the next one when done
This is an important topic for all of you to get together
and discuss/act in a remote area (NIMBY)
I will do what my boss/government/spouse says
Nature has its special way of removing the “unfit” in the
evolution process
I exit my cave only when nature needs me to perform my
duties in the cycle of life
This is the challenge/opportunity for humans to show
one new level of capability/responsibility in several
The NAE View
The Engineer 2020
 The Grand Challenges (???!!)
 The Curriculum Workshop – Intro to End
 Industry and IABs
 Impact????
Is this the Real BABEL???!!!
 Or the start of a New ENLIGHTENMENT
 Or both with undecided outcome!