Bioneers 2008: Nature and Technology Joining Forces

bioneers website image

Coming up very quickly is an exciting conference called Bioneers, where over 10,000 people converge to hear from leading innovators about solutions to our environmental problems, and to talk with one another about how we can look to nature for the answers on how to save our planet.

I’ll be there to cover some of the very cool technological and social advances discussed, and our very own Ken Rother will be there as well to discuss online social activism and engagement (yes, indeed, he’ll be there to brag about all you TreeHuggers!).

My enthusiasm for the conference has reached a boiling point, thanks to a conversation I had earlier today with Kenny Ausubel, founder of Bioneers. He shared with me some of the amazing things happening at the conference and in our world, and I wanted to turn right around and share it with you. The Bioneers Conference focuses primarily around biomimicry. While a decade ago biomimicry was a fringe science, the logic of looking at the very thing which created us and which we profess is perfect – Nature – and finding within it the solution to our problems has surfaced even on the mainstream level. And not a moment too soon.

Biomimicry Has Hit the Mainstream
We’ve talked about biomimicry here on TreeHugger, from product design to architecture to renewable energy. Companies and organizations have started to look towards biomimicry as the next generation of technology. Ausubel gave some fantastic examples of this in action.

Photo via HaPe Gera

For instance, Qualcomm looked at how peacocks and some butterflies possess the most brilliant colors on earth not through pigmentation but through their cells’ ability to capture light to show the amazing colors. They mimicked that trait to create display screens that use far less energy while showing beautiful color.

Also, the city of San Diego has fully embraced biomimicry and wants to be the national hub for research and development of biomimicry technology, proving the degree to which this discipline of science is acknowledged and accepted beyond the laboratories and university campuses.

Biomicry Puts Us Back in Nature, and the Nature Back in Us
As Ausubel points out, biomicry is fundamentally about understanding ourselves as part of the earth, and reestablishing our kinship with the earth. Finding the solutions already in nature and then implementing them in our technology is the way that we can do that reconnecting.

Photo via Tauntingpanda

He pointed out that for our problem with too much CO2 in the air, we have to stop and think, ok, how would a plant deal with it? A plant takes in CO2 and changes it to useful materials. A materials company called Novomer has looked at CO2 in this way and come up with a biodegradable plastic.

The examples could turn into a novel and still be just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come from this amazing field of science – indeed, a part of science that will hopefully connect the dots of the various disciplines and help us create a unified approach to solving the climate crisis.

Nature's Future Wrapped up in Politics and Business
Because, as Ausubel stated in our conversation, the problems we have are not problems with technology. We have or could come up with solutions easily. The problems are political and economic. Bioneers is just one effort towards collaboration, and analyzing and overcoming these issues so that we can move forward towards a sustainable future.

So, if you are in the San Rafael, California area from October 17-19, think about stopping by Bioneers and catching some of the amazing workshops and discussions. If you can’t make it, perhaps you live in one of the 18 areas that is hosting Beaming Bioneers so you can catch the conference on a local level.

And if you're still thinking you won't make it, don’t worry. Plenty more coverage of Bioneers is on its way to you right here on TreeHugger.

More on Bioneers:
Bioneers 2007: Seeding Practical Solutions and Social Innovations
Bioneers: Rendevous On The Wild Green Frontier

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