Nature and her problem-solving skills

Without knowing it, beavers help the environment by keeping carbon out of the air when constructing dams. According to a recent study conducted by a team at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, beavers’ homes store up carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere as a result. When beavers construct dams, they interrupt river flows and eventually this creates wetlands, or “beaver meadows”. The meadows retain carbon, and unless the meadow is broken, the air remains free of at least some of its greenhouse gas emissions thanks to these constructions. Beaver dams and meadows store about 8 percent of carbon in this specific region of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and up to 23 percent when the beaver wetlands on riverbanks are flooded. Humans have employed techniques that have damaged the environment, from exploiting fossil fuels for energy use to creating pollution, observing nhow nature uses its resources is becoming population with design and innovation. Sustainable innovation stems from imitating and learning from nature’s creative process, and it is becoming a more popular method of solving both the world’s technological and environmental problems.

There are anywhere from 6 to 12 million beavers in the United States, a dramatic decrease from the roughly 60 to 400 million beavers that once inhabited North America before the 1940s. While it can be difficult for beavers and humans to co-exist in certain areas, many countries have a better understanding of their benefits and are encouraging the increase of their presence. Their dams keep carbon from releasing into the air, and according to an online article from the New Scientist, beavers’ meadows also regulate water flow in times of drought or flooding, as well as encourage a diverse eco-system.

Nature adapts to its environment and needs, if we decide to observe and learn from it, nature can show us examples of how to best use resources. In the latest issue of The Intelligent Optimist, Jay Harman explains, “[Nature’s] mandate for survival is to use the least amount of material and energy to get the job done – the job being to survive and re-create itself without damaging its foundational eco-system.” (p.57) The idea that nature can inspire innovation is called biomimicry. Biomimicry encourages people to look at nature’s original examples when trying to invent or solve a problem, and hopefully use resources in the most efficient and ecological ways as a result. 

The weblog, Inhabitat.com, recently began “The Biomimicry Manual” which focuses on nature and how the specific functions and capabilities of various organisms could potentially help technology adopt more sustainable designs. Their first focus is on the Pompeii worm. While small at only four inches long, the Pompeii worm shows incredible resistance to heat (up to 80 degrees centigrade) and toxic chemicals. To protect itself from extreme heat, it constructs an external protective tube, and it’s hairy texture lets out mucus, which feeds the bacteria near it. The Pompeii worm is an excellent example of biomimicry, and scientists are studying how they can mimic similar techniques for future inventions. Heat resistance, the capacity to cool down, and avoiding toxic chemicals are all issues scientists must face when creating new technologies, and maybe observing and learning from the Pompeii worm could help with this.

These are certainly not the only examples of how nature has inspired technology and discovery; biomimicry is a popular method. Nature knows instinctively the best way to survive in a chaotic world. From beavers’ homes that help the atmosphere and the surrounding environment, to tiny worms that exemplify incredible resistance to toxic chemicals and heat, nature has a way of showing us how to engineer inventions in creative, original ways. 

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Nature and her problem-solving skills

Without knowing it, beavers help the environment by keeping carbon out of the air when constructing dams. According to a recent study conducted by a team at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, beavers’ homes store up carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere as a result. When beavers construct dams, they interrupt river flows and eventually this creates wetlands, or “beaver meadows”. The meadows retain carbon, and unless the meadow is broken, the air remains free of at least some of its greenhouse gas emissions thanks to these constructions. Beaver dams and meadows store about 8 percent of carbon in this specific region of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and up to 23 percent when the beaver wetlands on riverbanks are flooded. Humans have employed techniques that have damaged the environment, from exploiting fossil fuels for energy use to creating pollution, observing nhow nature uses its resources is becoming population with design and innovation. Sustainable innovation stems from imitating and learning from nature’s creative process, and it is becoming a more popular method of solving both the world’s technological and environmental problems.

There are anywhere from 6 to 12 million beavers in the United States, a dramatic decrease from the roughly 60 to 400 million beavers that once inhabited North America before the 1940s. While it can be difficult for beavers and humans to co-exist in certain areas, many countries have a better understanding of their benefits and are encouraging the increase of their presence. Their dams keep carbon from releasing into the air, and according to an online article from the New Scientist, beavers’ meadows also regulate water flow in times of drought or flooding, as well as encourage a diverse eco-system.

Nature adapts to its environment and needs, if we decide to observe and learn from it, nature can show us examples of how to best use resources. In the latest issue of The Intelligent Optimist, Jay Harman explains, “[Nature’s] mandate for survival is to use the least amount of material and energy to get the job done – the job being to survive and re-create itself without damaging its foundational eco-system.” (p.57) The idea that nature can inspire innovation is called biomimicry. Biomimicry encourages people to look at nature’s original examples when trying to invent or solve a problem, and hopefully use resources in the most efficient and ecological ways as a result. 

The weblog, Inhabitat.com, recently began “The Biomimicry Manual” which focuses on nature and how the specific functions and capabilities of various organisms could potentially help technology adopt more sustainable designs. Their first focus is on the Pompeii worm. While small at only four inches long, the Pompeii worm shows incredible resistance to heat (up to 80 degrees centigrade) and toxic chemicals. To protect itself from extreme heat, it constructs an external protective tube, and it’s hairy texture lets out mucus, which feeds the bacteria near it. The Pompeii worm is an excellent example of biomimicry, and scientists are studying how they can mimic similar techniques for future inventions. Heat resistance, the capacity to cool down, and avoiding toxic chemicals are all issues scientists must face when creating new technologies, and maybe observing and learning from the Pompeii worm could help with this.

These are certainly not the only examples of how nature has inspired technology and discovery; biomimicry is a popular method. Nature knows instinctively the best way to survive in a chaotic world. From beavers’ homes that help the atmosphere and the surrounding environment, to tiny worms that exemplify incredible resistance to toxic chemicals and heat, nature has a way of showing us how to engineer inventions in creative, original ways. 

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