The word paradigm gets thrown around in the “change the world” circles. It’s instructive to take a minute to revisit its definition.
- One that serves as a pattern or model.
- A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them.
In this context, mimicking nature’s 4.5 billion years of evolutionary wisdom would be a perfect paradigm. The conscious emulation of nature’s design strategies is more than just a survival strategy for the human race. It is the path towards a renewably powered world, full of safe and healthy things: economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed.
The beaten path does not lead to new pastures. – Indira Gandhi
Nature is imaginative by necessity. Animals, plants, and microbes are consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. The real secret: After 4 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. – Janine M. Benyus
Nature represents impeccable design.
Designing our world based on nature’s interdependent cycles conceives a future of fruitful human interaction with the natural world. It conceives an unfolding of human endeavour that allows commerce, community, and nature to thrive and grow.
Mimicking nature as a design blueprint goes by many names, including Cradle to Cradle design, Biomimicry, Natural Capitalism, Permaculture, and Ecological Design. The essence of each is the same: humans can learn from natural systems to have better lives in the present, and regenerate nature and human communities for the future.
Mimicking Nature as a human paradigm means adopting Mother Nature’s 5 core tenets, namely:
Growth is Good: Continuous, abundant, healthy, balanced growth is the primary dictate of nature.
Waste = Food: Design all goods and services to feed natural systems or go back into the industrial cycle.
Natural Energy Flows: Harness sunlight, wind, waves, geothermal sources, and gravity to meet all our energy needs.
Diversity = Strength: Draw from infinite variety to achieve abundance and balance.
Think Holistic: Ensuring all discrete decisions benefit the whole.
We can also look to nature for specific advice, such as: how to grow our food; harness energy; make our materials; keep ourselves healthy; store what we learn; conduct business without drawing down nature’s capital; and pursue our individual self-interests while adding to the rich web of life.
Like the viceroy butterfly imitating the monarch, we humans can imitate the best and brightest organisms in our habitat. We are currently learning, for instance, how to harness energy like a leaf, grow food like a prairie, build ceramics like an abalone, self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest. (see some Examples)
The broad characteristics displayed by natural systems—evolving, adaptive, and ever-growing—are the exact same characteristics we should strive for in human endeavours.
Redesigning the entire world to mimic nature is the biggest growth opportunity of all time. It will mean limitless riches for those brave enough to lead the way. It will mean happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives for those who follow these leaders. It will mean better products, services, and lives for the rest of us. It will mean transforming the human footprint into a positive, regenerative force.
The conscious emulation of nature’s design strategies is more than just a survival strategy for the human race. It’s the road towards a renewably powered world, full of safe and healthy things: economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed.
Nature does nothing uselessly. – Aristotle