Natural SolutionsEarth from space without cloud cover © Sigurd Decroos

 

Human problems can often be solved by turning to nature.  These pages show how nature provides innovative designs, materials and processes which have had a revolutionary impact on human well-being.

 

 

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth.  It includes the diversity of individual species, the genetic diversity within species and the range of ecosystems that support them.


Humans depend on biodiversity for a wide range of goods and services.  Biodiversity performs vital functions like recycling and cleansing the air and water.  The sheer variety of life on earth provides a vast resource which we draw on all the time to maintain and improve our quality of life.

 

Biodiversity loss means that life on earth is becoming less varied.  The most fragile species and habitats are disappearing, leaving only those able to cope with the impact of humans.  Will the natural systems that sustain human civilization continue to function if we lose a tenth of all species?  A quarter? A half?  Or is the destruction of any single species too great a risk?
 
The extinction of any of the species described in the case studies on these pages would have meant a lost opportunity for human advancement.  According to scientists’ best guess, 80 – 90% of the species on earth have yet to be discovered.  We will never know what discoveries we could have made from the species that have already gone extinct.

 

 

Case studies recently added 

April 2010:              Mollusc glue inspires next generation of adhesives

                                 Echolocation: borrowing a trick from bats to help the blind to see

                                 Bioelectricity: how bacteria could one day replace batteries

                          Learning from biodiversity's flying machines     

                          Termites inspire architects 

                          The kingfisher and the bullet train

March 2010:          Whale tubercles improve wind turbines

                          Nature's networks: biodiversity's bottom up approach

                          Wall cress: the common weed that can help farmers adapt to climate change

                          Artificial silk can't compete with the real thing

                          Glowing jellyfish protein sheds light on human disease

                          Biocontrol: set a bug to catch a bug

September 2010: Self-cleaning paint and fabric inspired by the Sacred Lotus

                           Nature’s anti-freeze

                          Treating Alzheimer's Disease with daffodils

                          Creating colour using nature's pallete

                          The return of the ancient food of the gods:  Quinoa

January 2011:       Biodiversity is the key to happiness

                                 Solar power: learning from the experts

                                 Mushrooms wrap up plastic packaging!

                                

 

Further reading

Biomimicry Guild and Institute  (accessed February 2010)
Biomimicry Europa  (accessed February 2010)
Conservation International  (accessed February 2010)
The gecko’s foot, Peter Forbes.  Pub. Harper Perennial (2005)
Wild Solutions, Andrew Beattie and Paul R. Erlich.  Pub. Yale University Press (2001)
The Wealth of nature, Jeffrey A. McNeely et al.  Pub. Cemex (2009)