These ancient societies know the secrets of infinite growth on our finite planet

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Once upon a time, there were three scientists––a biologist, an engineer, and a chemist. Each of them loved the ocean and liked nothing better than to walk its shores and study its inhabitants. They were curious and observant, and by watching how nature really works, with an open-mind, each of them stumbled on something radically new. And we can do the same! Hit the jump for a closer look at how to achieve infinite growth on a finite planet – nature’s way. Image via Great Ecology Australian Jay Harman grew up at the beach, surfing, playing in the waves, seeking shells. He was fascinated by the spiraling patterns he saw all around him. If the fastest, most efficient way to get from point A to point B was a straight line, then why did everything seem to spiral there? He was curious, and eventually found a way to freeze a whirlpool and cast it out of metal––the form yielded a fan, a turbine , and an impeller, all far more efficient than traditional ones—and quieter and cooler as well. Today, Jay’s company, PAX Scientific, is revolutionizing the way these technologies work. Dr. Frank Fish is an engineer, specializing in wind turbines. While traveling, he paid a visit to a local aquarium, and noticed a gift shop sculpture – a humpback whale. But the bumps on the flippers were on the wrong side, obviously hydrodynamically incorrect. Being an engineer, Dr. Fish was compelled to complain to the cashier, who was skeptical. The sculptor was a well-known marine artist who almost certainly knew his whale biology. This required further thought. Dr. Fish studied the flippers more closely, then he added similar structures to his turbine blades––producing a 40 percent gain in efficiency. His company, Whale Power , now operates across California. Image via Farm1 My last story is about a chemist, Dr. Kaichang Li, who works for Columbia Forest Products , a big lumber and plywood company in Oregon. He develops plywood glues – usually toxic ones based on formaldehyde. Dr. Li liked to walk along the beach near his home, and one day he found himself thinking about the blue mussels that coated the rocks along the shore. He tried to pull one off – impossible! How did they stick underwater? His curiosity led him to chemically mimic the anchoring protein, and today, all Columbia Forest Products plywood uses this formaldehyde-free Purebond® technology. Dr. Li’s curiosity led the company to replace 47 million pounds of toxic resins, reducing pollutants 50-90 percent, improving the health of employees and customers alike. Biomimicry — the art and science of innovation inspired by nature – is changing the way we think about everything we make and do. Even the most mundane problems can be tackled with fresh eyes by simply asking “how would nature do it?” which is not so odd as it may seem. Every species alive today faces the same kinds of challenges we do – and all of them are survivors. After four billion years of evolution, only the most winning solutions are still around, each honed over countless generations of ruthless selection. These ancient technologies work, and we can apply them to our own solutions. Fortune magazine recently acknowledged biomimicry as the #1 trend in business for 2017 , and not just because it is inspiring new products like plywood or fans – nature’s ancient strategies are generating new approaches to every facet of doing business. Like manufacture. Currently, we make many things from petrochemical plastics, and 95 percent of it is discarded inside of six months – and that’s not including the carbon emissions generated by the fuel used to power the manufacture process. This is a problem: by depleting raw resources and piling up waste, this runaway process threatens the long-term success of every company and country. Many companies are working hard to reduce that waste: reducing, reusing, and recycling it. But how would nature do it? What’s nature’s manufacture process? For starters, nature builds with infinite things – sunshine and atmospheric carbon, diffuse specks of water and nutrients. Green plants convert sunlight into energy, fixing atmospheric carbon into sugars. That’s how plants grow. Leaves, wood, fruit­­, roots – all of it is carbon negative manufacture powered by the sun. Ultimately, of course, it is all eaten and used to grow other creatures. We can do the same thing. Our photovoltaic technologies constantly and exponentially improve (with a little guidance from the plants), and one company, Newlight Technologies, is capturing methane-based carbon from the air and turning it into AirCarbon, Sprint’s thermoplastic iPhone case material. Meanwhile, Interface carpet just unveiled the world’s first carbon negative carpet tiles . Imagine if human consumption was good for the planet? Why shouldn’t it be? Similarly, millions of tiny sea-anemone-like animals cluster into the world’s coral reefs, aided by an intimate algal partnership. The algae photosynthesize by day, feeding the corals. At night they rest, which lowers the ambient pH enough to allow the corals to secrete a protective cement home around the algae – much like our own cement structures. Calera, a California company, is making cement in exactly this way , gradually accreting calcite from the elevated carbon dioxide dissolved in our oceans. To most of us, CO2 emissions are a problem — accumulating at an alarming rate, irreparably changing our planet’s atmosphere. But these emissions are basically just carbon – the same stuff all living things grow from. What if we grew our materials this way as well? What if we made things the way the plants do, or the reefs? Imagine, if we reclaimed our carbon waste from the atmosphere, and put it back in the world of the living – into the biosphere? It’s easy to be cynical, convinced that humans are evolution’s terrible mistake. But there is no reason why this must be so. Plenty of societies thrive on this earth, some with the same biomass and metabolic needs as us. Some are incredibly ancient and wildly successful, in fact, and they don’t have small footprints, either. Leafcutter ants work together in teeming underground colonies, with tens of millions of strangers in vast, elaborate chambers – yet, we don’t see them choking on smog or stuck in traffic. They’ve done it this way for 70 million years, or more. Similarly, the fungal networks below ground collect diffuse molecules of nutrients and water, shuttling them to each other and the trees above them. They aren’t counting carbon credits or worrying about the Pacific Garbage Patch, and yet these densely networked individuals make up a quarter of all terrestrial biomass. What’s the difference between them and us? They succeed by building with infinite things, and feeding the life that feeds them. My favorite example of these ancient societies is the macrotermites of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert . These colonies build huge towering mound, poking as much as 30 feet above the dry plains. The termites don’t live in this structure—this is just their clever air conditioner. The termite nest itself lies far below – these creatures don’t like the heat any more than you’d like to be stuck in the Mojave Desert naked without a water bottle. Nonetheless, they thrive. Here’s how: each night, some individuals venture out onto the plains to collect scraps of grass and twigs to bring down into the nest. Like the leafcutters, they make a compost which they feed to their carefully tended fungal gardens. The fungus consumes the plants, the termites eat the fungus. It’s a partnership, and over time, it fertilizes the surrounding grass, and makes it softer, richer, and more nutritious. Antelope gather to graze it, fertilizing the soil with their droppings. Big cats and wild dogs hunt the antelope, leaving carcasses that enrich the soil further. Meanwhile, the mounds poke above the yearly floods like snorkels, sheltering all kinds of plants and animals, while soaking up precious moisture for the long, dry season ahead. Superorganism societies like these are all around us, surviving and thriving sustainably – regeneratively ––for hundreds of millions of years, through radical waves of change that have turned countless other populations into fossils. These creatures make more each generation without poisoning their world, by spilling collective value out into the larger ecosystems they inhabit. They have to do it: it’s the only way to compound their value for the future. As an evolutionary biologist and primatologist who spent nearly 30 years studying social systems, I know we can do the same – because it‘s been done before. The math is simple and universal. Botanical philosopher Michael Pollan expresses it well: “our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum… as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” The difference between ancient superorganism abundance and our own impending scarcity is simple: they compound their wealth by building with virtually infinite things—sunlight and atmospheric carbon, diffuse specks of moisture and nutrients, trust and transparency, and the complexity, diversity, and interconnectedness of networks. There are always more of these things. Their organizations are no pyramid schemes. This is a new and deeply biological way for us to do business – and organize our entire global society – as we do the hard work of adapting to a finite Earth. This is not a recipe for despair, scraping by, or doing less harm while delaying the inevitable death spiral, nor does it require us to become an army of faceless automaton clone ants or assimilate into the Borg. Quite the contrary—this is a recipe for unbounded optimism, abundance, individuality, personal freedom, and creativity. Image via Biomimicry Institute Our success depends on staying curious and observant, studying what stands the test of time. The solutions are all around us. By feeding the life that feeds us, and building with infinite things, we can create our own regenerative cycles. We have to: it’s the only way to compound our value for the future. + Teeming: How Superorganisms Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker is an evolutionary biologist, primatologist, and biomimicry pioneer with an extensive background in leadership, innovation, and sustainability. Her book Teeming: How Superorganisms Work to Build Infinite Wealth in a Finite World is available now . Forward your receipt to TeemingTogether@gmail.com to receive an exclusive TEEMING toolkit for implementing the bio-inspired changes our future success requires. Lead image via Wikimedia Commons

Read the original:
These ancient societies know the secrets of infinite growth on our finite planet

40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Communities that have to ship in fresh food from far away could start getting local produce right from their parking lots or warehouses thanks to Local Roots ‘ shipping container farms . The 40-foot containers house hydroponic farms that only draw on five to 20 gallons of water each day to grow produce like lettuce, strawberries, or kale. Popping up all around the United States, these scalable farms “grow far more produce than any other indoor farming solution on the market” according to co-founder Dan Kuenzi. Local Roots is even talking with SpaceX about using their farms in space . Local Roots’ 40-foot shipping container farms, called TerraFarms, grow produce twice as fast as a traditional farm , all while using 97 percent less water and zero pesticides or herbicides. They can grow as much food as could be grown on three to five acres. They’re able to do this thanks to LED lights tuned to specific wavelengths and intensities, and sensor systems monitoring water, nutrient, and atmospheric conditions. Related: Pop-up shipping container farm puts a full acre of lettuce in your backyard The process from setup to first harvest takes only around four weeks. TerraFarms can be stacked and connected to the local grid. CEO Eric Ellestad said in a video 30 million Americans live in food deserts , and their farms could be placed right in communities that most need the food. Los Angeles is already home to a farm with several shipping containers, and a similar one will be coming to Maryland this year. It could offer local food like strawberries in January. And Local Roots’ technology could one day allow astronauts to consume fresh produce in space. Their growing systems could offer a food source on long-term, deep space missions. Ellestad told The Washington Post, “The opportunities are global and intergalactic at the same time.” + Local Roots Via The Washington Post Images via Local Roots Facebook

Read the original here: 
40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

This family retreat hidden in the forests of Northern California is very different from your typical weekend home. Berkeley-based Envelope Architecture + Design designed the Forest House, a holiday retreat broken up into nine minimalist boxes hoisted off the ground for minimal site impact . Clad in stained timber, the cluster of one-room cabins blends into the heavily wooded landscape. Located in Mendocino County a few hours from San Francisco, the Forest House was built for a couple and their three young children. The structure’s nine tent cabins are organized within four clusters, all hooked up to plumbing and electricity, and spread out across two acres around a central concrete-paved plaza. The buildings are raised several feet off the ground on 4×4 posts for a treehouse -like effect and are carefully placed to preserve existing trees. A network of wooden paths connects the raised cabins. Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The roofs are topped with treated Army canvas anchored with nylon ropes. “The tented roofs and walls allow a connection with the natural setting—its sounds and changing seasons—while large clear and mirrored-bronze glass windows frame views of the landscape and neighboring ‘rooms,’” wrote the architects. “Wood-framed walls and floors lend warmth and support the comforts of modern living, deep within the forest. Here, the forest and house are one with indoor and outdoor rooms suspended between the treetops and canopy floor.” + Envelope Architecture + Design Via Gessato Images via Envelope Architecture + Design, © Richard Barnes

Here is the original post:
Tent cabin clusters perfectly blend into the Californian forests

HOK Unveils Plans for Biomimetic Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago

June 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on HOK Unveils Plans for Biomimetic Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago

International architecture and engineering firm HOK recently unveiled a proposal for the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum located in Bronzeville, Chicago. Developed in collaboration with the President Obama Library, the Museum Campus Foundation, and over two dozen community groups, the design bid is situated in the historic Chicago neighborhood of Bronzeville in honor of Obama’s start in politics. The design highlights the area’s history as the city’s original African-American neighborhood and aims to create a space that will catalyze economic growth and investment. Read the rest of HOK Unveils Plans for Biomimetic Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: barack Obama presidential library , barack Obama presidential library and museum , biomimetic , bronzevill , carbon neutrality , chicago , HOK , Living Building Challenge , museum campus foundation , presidential library , regenerative design , south side

Read the original:
HOK Unveils Plans for Biomimetic Barack Obama Presidential Library in Chicago

Horned Rock it Suda Theme Park Hotel Revitalizes an Old Mining Town in South Korea

April 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Horned Rock it Suda Theme Park Hotel Revitalizes an Old Mining Town in South Korea

Read the rest of Horned Rock it Suda Theme Park Hotel Revitalizes an Old Mining Town in South Korea Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: absurd , Design , fantasy , horned hotel , Korean pension , living architecture , mining town , Moon Hoon , pension , regenerative design , Rock it Suda , south korea , sustainable design , theater , themed hotel        

See the original post here: 
Horned Rock it Suda Theme Park Hotel Revitalizes an Old Mining Town in South Korea

“Small Leak” at Fukushima Daiichi Raises Yet More Safety Concerns

April 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on “Small Leak” at Fukushima Daiichi Raises Yet More Safety Concerns

Efforts to repair damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant in Japan suffered another setback on Sunday when workers found a small leak in pipes from the facility’s cooling pools. Last month the cooling systems failed at the plant, after it was believed that a rat had chewed through electric cables housed in a temporary facility. On April 5, work to set in place anti-rodent measures knocked the cooling systems back offline before a 32,000 gallon leak was discovered in a cooling pool just a day later . This latest leak has further delayed repair work. Read the rest of “Small Leak” at Fukushima Daiichi Raises Yet More Safety Concerns Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Fukushima , Fukushima Accident , fukushima cooling , fukushima daiichi , fukushima leak , fukushima rat , japan earthquake , japan energy , nuclear accident , nuclear power , radioactive , TEPCO , tokyo electric power company        

Read more from the original source:
“Small Leak” at Fukushima Daiichi Raises Yet More Safety Concerns

Breakthrough Converts Normal Skin Cells into Protective Brain Cells

April 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Breakthrough Converts Normal Skin Cells into Protective Brain Cells

Photo via Shutterstock Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have discovered a way to turn ordinary skin cells into protective brain cells – a breakthrough that could have a resounding impact on people who suffer from multiple sclerosis , cerebral palsy and similar diseases. Myelinating cells protect neurons as electric pulses travel from the brain to the rest of the body. In people who suffer from myelinating disorders, these sheaths are destroyed and are very difficult to repair. Now researchers have successfully converted skin cells of mice into oligodendrocytes, a cell that myelinates neurons, and hope the same technique might eventually be replicated in humans. Read the rest of Breakthrough Converts Normal Skin Cells into Protective Brain Cells Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Case Western Reserve School of medicine , cellular reprogramming , cerebral palsy , Health , mice brain , multiple sclerosis , myelinating cells , nature biotechnology , oligodendrocytes , OPCs , science , skin cells converted into brain cells , stem cell        

See the rest here:
Breakthrough Converts Normal Skin Cells into Protective Brain Cells

Solar Comprised All New Utility Electricity Added to US Grid in March

April 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Solar Comprised All New Utility Electricity Added to US Grid in March

Photo via Shutterstock March marked a historic month for solar as for first time ever, all new utility electricity generation added to the US grid came from solar power . According to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), seven projects in California, Nevada, New Jersey, Hawaii, Arizona, and North Carolina added 44MW to the grid. It may not be a particularly jaw-dropping figure, but as projects from other energy sources added no new generation, solar’s record month does point to a promising outlook for the industry. Read the rest of Solar Comprised All New Utility Electricity Added to US Grid in March Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “wind power” , green energy , nrg energy , renewable energy , renewables grid , SEIA , solar capacity , solar electricity , solar grid , solar industry energy , solar plant , Solar Power        

View post: 
Solar Comprised All New Utility Electricity Added to US Grid in March

Bad Behavior has blocked 824 access attempts in the last 7 days.