With this article about socio economic Biomimetics I am slightly moving away from our common topics which are mainly technologically oriented and based on scientific research. The purpose is to subjectively present a natural system and imagine how its processes could be transferred into society that it becomes more sustainable, flexible and autonomous.
Last week, Katharina was writing about forests as ecosystems. Forest is a matrix of different symbiosis, nutrient flows, energy conversions, cohabitations of different species, etc. All these functions are depending on each other but are still autonomous enough to study them separately. The fascinating characteristic of a forest is its flexibility to changing conditions – weather, natural catastrophes, diseases, invasive species,…enabling it to survive through hundreds of years without permanent damage. And that flexibility is in my opinion the breakpoint for biomimetic abstraction.
We have to admit that our efforts to be more “environmentally friendly” are not so successful so far. Just the fact that all over the world, 10 million tons of waste are thrown away every day, cannot leave us indifferent. It does not matter from which perspective we look at similar problems, the answer is always the same – it is all about the money. As a society, we always crave for more and even if a very good environmental initiative is economically not viable, it most likely abolished. Our economic model is in my opinion not really flexible to recover from financial shocks since we already witnessed bank crashes in the history. But maybe this is a pessimistic way of sesing things, because there are already success stories. An example – San Francisco city has an 80% landfill diversion rate – everything is reduced, reused, recycled or composted.
Let me first tell you how I got inspired to write the article about the “socio economic Biomimetcs”. Recently I watched a documentary, called “Tomorrow”, directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. The authors of the movie realized that their children will live in a world where food, water and oil will be hard to find. That is why they asked themselves how would it be, if all people started to save the world. They travelled around the globe, meeting people who are already offering alternatives and therefore showing us examples how such an initiative is actually possible. The movie points out different aspects of the 21st century – agriculture, energy, economy, education and governance.
To progress faster towards a more sustainable society, we can start with ourselves. Individual actions can grow to collective actions and further to political actions. Flexibility of a forest should be our biomimetic model to create an economy which is able to sustain different shocks. It might seem unclear from the first sight, but the documentary “Tomorrow” offers some solutions.
- Eat more organic food and less meat
- Find a renewable electricity supplier
- Buy in local and independent shops
- Change your bank (to which is more ethical and responsible)
- Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, share
As a community:
- Transform your neighborhood/ village/ city in a vegetable garden
- Create a citizens’ community to produce renewable energy
- Create a complementary currency (local, or in your enterprise…)
- Create an alternative school
- Redirect the farming subsidies to facilitate the change for organic farming, agroecology, permaculture,…
- Swing the work tax system toward carbon
- Free the currency creation
I point out the local currency creation as a way to help advance global sustainability. “The Guardian” newspaper brought up this following statement: “The core reason for the uptake of local currencies is their promise to serve the real needs of local people in ways that national monetary and financial systems do not. They represent a possible path to a future that is more socially, financially, and environmentally sustainable.” The Bristol Pound is a nice example.
In the sense of socio economic Biomimetics, solutions cannot simply be copied from nature. Forest’s flexibility is a model which processes should be translated in the “language of people” and should develop gradually, like an economic evolution. Let me conclude with a phrase by Dion and Laurent: “There is no perfect democracy or economic model, but what seem to emerge from our journey, was a new vision of the world where each community is more autonomous and therefore more free.”
Cover photo by: A K photography