It’s a term that’s always bugged me, and I first heard it quite long ago. After all, I’m an ecologist, one who did her work in Urban Ecosystems, those systems most obviously dominated by humans, although really, all of them are affected these days, pretty much. I suppose that perhaps the subterranean realms of the snotites might still be pristine, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
At any rate, biomimicry is one of those ideas big in hopes for humanity to move forward, the idea that if we try to copy what nature is doing as we build our own little habitats, if we try to do what nature does in terms of harnessing energy we can get by, if we f**k like Bonobos perhaps we’ll learn how to live peacefully together.
Well, I just added that last one, I’m not sure anyone has come out and said that right out loud, although lots of folks have suggested it in kind of a round about way, mostly guys, but some women, too, and really, it’s one of those forms of biomimicry we might just adopt and learn something from.
Thing is, lots of the same folks who are real big on biomimicry are also really big on the idea that we ARE nature, so the whole argument for mimicking nature becomes a matter of which species is it you’re going to mimic, the Bonobo or the colonial ant? It gets circular really quickly. You like that one’s house and that one’s diet and that one’s mating habits, perhaps you can make yourself (or we, we are kind of talking about humanity here) into a heterogenous patchwork mosaic of species characteristics.
Sorry, I just had to throw those three words in there, heterogenous patchwork mosaic, I used that one so many times in my dissertation my fingers can do it sans error, just like that, any time.
Thing is, I suppose we could decide that, oh I don’t know, I’m not a zoologist, but we could decide that the mud, or I guess it wouldn’t be mud, not in the desert, caliche then, burrows of some nocturnal small mammal represents the absolute best in energy efficient housing in the desert, and rebuild the greater Phoenix metropolitan area (that’s where I did my work) with biomimicked caliche burrows and discover that, gosh, there’s a size issue and a numbers issue and after we’ve done all that rebuilding and added people discover that we’ve really screwed up, altered hydrology in some way unpredictable, and oops.
We can stand outside and try to photosynthesize all day. It ain’t happening. While I suppose we can build something some day, probably tear down 20 hectares of forest to get the materials to build something that can photosynthesize are the rate of 5 hectares of forest (and oddly enough, I’m pretty sure that if there are lows of thermodynamics at all, conversation of mass and energy and all that, such that it almost has to be so, but I’d have to think about it further, deeply), we can mimic the crap out of that bio, too, but really, given that WE ARE BIO, I always find myself asking what is it we’re trying to mimic?
So, rather than looking at what small nocturnal mammals are doing or what ants are doing or how plants do that thing, wouldn’t it maybe be smarter to look at the human cultures that have survived quite comfortably and healthily and even relatively peacefully for a few hundred thousand years and see what they’re doing? Mimic those bios?
Even the Bonobo way doesn’t work for everybody, and they’re like, first cousins. Perhaps the secret is to discover what is the human way, not try to mimic some other species. Oddly enough, in typing that sentence, what I learned through several years of self work, head stuff, just came smiling through the brain waves at me.
I am what I am, and what I am is fine, I cannot be Susie and don’t want to be. We are what we are, not ants, not birds, not Bonobos either. Not better, not worse, just human. What we need to relearn how to be is human.
As soon as we do that, I’m ready to mimic.