Biomimicry can take the planet far

Jordan Coll/ Contributing Writer

With the planet becoming less and less hospitable for life itself, a new approach to sustainability must be discussed in preserving the human race.

Politicians have sped up the clock in further damaging our ecosystems by placing personal agendas above planet preservation. This has left many to wonder: at what point will Earth’s tolerance for these destructive forms of living come to a conclusive snap?

Global issues such as climate change, deforestation and new records of emitted carbon have caused tremendous pressure on scientists to come up with viable long-term solutions. Instead of reaching for big solutions to bring down our man-made environmental giants, we should take a closer look at what nature has to offer.

Biomimicry is “a method for creating solutions to human challenges by emulating designs and ideas found in nature” according to the Smithsonian Institute. This discovery can be applied to infrastructure, vehicles and commodity-based materials.

The idea is simple.

Nature plays a self-sustaining role in recycling essential nutrients needed to preserve organisms in their given habitat.

Within this existing relationship between biome and species, the physical structure and mechanisms among animals could ideally be applied to the basis of human design. For instance, studying a humpback whale’s fin structure could be used to improve energy efficiency found in wind turbines.

It sounds rather unrealistic!

However, the U.S. Navy has already taken the design of a whale’s fin and mechanically engineered it to reduce drag on wind turbines. By using the design of the fin, nearly a third of the wind drag experienced by wind turbines has been greatly reduced, making it easier to generate sustainable clean energy.

Additionally, many aquatic animals are known to host other marine species on their bodies, such as barnacles.

Due to this, sharks remain “clean” so to speak. Their skin also has intriguing qualities such as microscopic dermal denticles which help fend off micro-organisms.

Surprisingly, the U.S. Navy has already developed a material known as Sharklet based on the skin pattern of a shark to help curb marine growth on ships.

In addition, a species of bird known as the Kingfisher has been looked at for the anatomy of its beak. Kingfishers have specialized beaks which allow them to dive into the water to hunt while making a minimal splash.

For generations, the sound of electric trains found in China has torn through the structural integrity of their tunnels. By using the beak structure of the kingfisher, engineers have been able to apply the same principle on these electrical trains.

As a result, their speed has increased by ten percent, uses 15 percent less electricity and most importantly no more sound.

All of these positive outcomes have led me to question why it has taken us this long to discover biomimicry. Our planet has existed for 3.8 billion years and it’s not getting any younger.

Learning from the environment itself could actually improve our conditions as a species and heal the years of degradation we have allowed to occur.

The future of our planet is ultimately up to us.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo retrieved from Flickr.

Be the first to comment on "Biomimicry can take the planet far"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.