Both created – one was brilliant, the other apparently not so bright. For the human , it has taken centuries to understand that several methods it has adopted for Living is simply not Sustainable. And that is the bottom line – Sustainable Living ! Whether we remind ourselves or not, the primeval instinct to live – eat – be healthy – survive – procreate & protect; is the only thing we humans have pursued, the methods however, have refined since our cave dwelling days but not necessarily in the right direction.
One good solution that is now being advocated is called “Biomimicry” meaning – do what nature does ! It is gaining some traction but sometime with a fundamental flaw – it is unnatural to mimic what is natural in the first place.( some people are using the pretext of this beautiful concept to legitimise what is fundamentally flawed to begin with) So when we say we are attempting to fly; humans are not born with the ability to fly; so the air-plane we create for that attempt, and name it biomimicry would itself be unnatural. What the original exponents of “Biomimicry” must have wanted; before it became commercial & thus bastardized; was simple – all our attempt to live this blessed modern life should be minimalistic when it impacts Nature. To design ways and means to harness natures ingenuity and create through inspired design where possible, machines or habitats with low environmental impact.
But to begin scaling this concept, human must get back to sync with nature once again. Coming back to my opening lines – when we created the 24 x 7 x 365 work culture, we received bountiful results, because Nature had the stock in reserve. Being puny in scale, we thought the supply to be infinite, just like an ant would when entering a jar full of cookies. And in the process created trends and culture which now is becoming difficult to sustain. A glaring example is Europe where austerity measures are being met with hostility.
During the bountiful era, the socio-political environment was that of smug comfort. Standing atop lofty balconies, leaders of the past had the far-sight to see the populace applaud each populist decree made. Sometime as indulgence of a rich parent or out of genuine concern but never without a trace of self aggrandisement were the policies made. And self aggrandisement makes one chose far-sight over foresight. And in India, unfortunately we see this most of the time, the recent reference link to it would be found in my Earth Day article.
Survival of the fittest. It can be argued that, the Human species chose to differ from the rest by having the ability to take care of the weak. That is what separates us from the rest of the species. And here again I would like to point to Biomimicry and show that following the laws of Nature is the best way to do so and not the process we have adopted, for it is a short time solution.
If you just take just one example from many, say the squirrel, you would see that it is social, lives in a community and also takes care of its young and weak. But, all need to forage for their food! That is something our leaders of the present can model their future policies into. Animals don’t have the concept of dole, free health policy, or even vacation for that matter ! Let us for the sake of argument model a concept thus -
Say, a Nation decides that everybody needs to earn their keep. Every employable person shall have to mandatory stock up reserve, just like ants do. For, heath benefits by law one must buy health insurance. For food security by law one must make a savings policy.
For the unemployable, the word itself is a misnomer. Say we have a few 1000 doctors who have not got jobs, they line up for dole. Yet there are 1500 post vacant in the constabulary. There can only be two reasons for a doctor for not getting a job. Either s/he is not up to the mark or the post are full. So, let the employment exchange direct them to join the police while a suitable post for their qualification gets vacant. And who knows a good thing may come out of that, imagine a highway car accident where the police have reached before the paramedics, having knowledge in medicine could save a life . One must take up a job. No choice by law to remain idle.
Let them earn their keep. Stock up reserve, not become lax and lackadaisical or become a social out-cast because of not having a job. ‘An idle mind is the devils work-shop’ – a quote from time immemorial.
There may arise a situation where there are more IT-graduates than companies to hire them in a Country. Short-term exchange programs can be created among member countries to lend professional of one field and take mechanics in exchange if so they need. The World today is a village and United Nations we are! ( at least in theory and in the figment of my imagination.)
Yet there would be some, the old & the infirm, who try as they might will not get a job. That is when their beloved Mother land, governed by able leaders with foresight must engulf them in loving Care! And in the long run even during times of austerity manage to hold on to these social programs, simply because it would be smaller in number and thus sustainable.
Surely it would take time and hard choices need to be made today, to revise and adjust and calibrate the concept into a near perfect one. One which truly merges the best of Democracy with Socialism without the pitfalls of communism and crony capitalism. Like the populist and sometime ill conceived development programs be it infrastructure or social. Which some time create haves and have nots.
So where does Climate initiative figure in this? one might ask. Again one needs to look into Biomimicry. Everything in Nature grows in its own pace. Nothing happens overnight. Yet Humans try to achieve just that – Success, Wealth, Power et al. So they work 18hrs a day instead of 8. A tired body effects the mind in many ways. Artificial simulation to beat the fatigue and the competing companion takes the human to the very edges of danger, which every religion preaches not to practice – Ego, Greed and Anger.
These vices make human take decisions which have long term impact on the climate. They build hydro-dams in the guise of harvesting power, whereas in reality its the water they want to control and deny prosperity to its neighbouring Country. In the process, they damage their own local eco-system which other-wise would have sustained their Peoples and perhaps help in food security in the future. Or they venture into the fragile Ocean beds (which most understand very little, and those who do, would eventually get sidelined by the political and MBA masters they work for ) in search of power source, when the Waves , Wind & their maker the Sun provides it in abundance. They are the trinity of eternal energy source, which man-kind would never be able to exhaust.
The modern society World over must think of biomimiking a tree. Growing slowly yet surely while standing still in its own place, the tree finds sustenance for hundreds of years without encroaching on others . A jungle is nothing but a crowd, yet they thrive. Mostly by symbiosis. It is almost permanently renewable.
Perhaps it is time for the social scientist to take centre stage and steer the politics in a manner the science of sustainable living dictates.
- Earth Day and Bio-mimicry (uw20sciencemediaandculture.wordpress.com)
- Reconciling the Spiritual and Socio-Political (bigthink.com)
- Will Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan drive costs out? (linkingsustainability.com)
- Where is my biomimetic future? (part 1) (helichrysums.wordpress.com)
- Should we re-engineer our species to save our planet? (dvice.com)
- Stockholm+40 – international conference on sustainable living and innovative solutions (terragaia.wordpress.com)
- Tighten your belts, scientists tell the world’s rich (independent.co.uk)
- Triumphs AND Hiccups – 2nd Edition (biocadence.wordpress.com)
- Biomimicry 3.8: What Would You Ask Nature? (core77.com)
- Eco+Logical: Mission Possible (guide.thesoftlanding.com)
- Biomimicry and teaching business the ‘secrets of life’ (womenofgreen.com)
- Unilever Improves Supply Chain, Faces Challenges with Customer Behavior (triplepundit.com)
- Educate Yourself On Sustainable Living And You Will Live Happier (talkingaboutgreen.com)
- Arnold Schwarzenegger & Project Green Light Launch “Sustainia” to Inspire Sustainable Living (inhabitat.com)