Doing it nature's way"" is the theme of this wide-eyed-with-wonder exposition of what's going on in a variety of...


BIOMIMICRY: Innovation Inspired by Nature

Doing it nature's way"" is the theme of this wide-eyed-with-wonder exposition of what's going on in a variety of fields--from farming to computer science--as scientists try to emulate natural processes. The wonder is abundant as Benyus waxes rhapsodic about the potential for a greening of the globe that could feed the millions, clean the environment, and cure our ills. The name of the game is biomimicry, here defined as a ""survival tactic whereby humans try to imitate life's designs and processes, e.g., running a business like a redwood forest."" Indeed, that is the theme of one of the last chapters in which the model for conducting business is the mature ""Type III"" stage of ecological succession embodied by the redwood forest. Nature's operating principles here include using waste as a resource, diversifying and cooperating to fully use the habitat, using energy and materials efficiently and sparingly, not fouling the nest, etc. Translating this into business terms, Benyus describes a number of experiments in process, such as an industrial park in Denmark where waste steam from the power plant is used to power two adjacent companies, heat 3,500 homes, and deliver warm water to fish farms. Elsewhere Benyus's survey ranges over attempts to revolutionize farming away from monocrop and toward prairie-like multicultures; zoopharmacognosy, or observing what sick animals do to cure themselves; synthesizing spider thread or the glue marine mussels use to attach to surfaces under water; and fathoming the mysteries of photosynthesis. In each case this Montana-based nature writer has interviewed the principal players and provided rich details--particularly in areas like mussel glue or photosynthesis, where emulating nature is no easy trick. To some extent they provide correctives to the Gaia-like homage to nature that pervades. Much of interest here, but spare us the cheerleading.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0060533226

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997