Shell is famous for it’s ability to develop plausible scenarios for the future. We have gained a lot of insight from their work as we help our clients plan for the future.
From Shell’s website: “Shell uses scenarios to explore the future. Our scenarios are not mechanical forecasts. They recognise that people hold beliefs and make choices that can lead down different paths. They reveal different possible futures that are plausible and challenging. Our latest energy scenarios look at the world in the next half century, linking the uncertainties we hold about the future to the decisions we must make today.”
There are many examples where nature has solved problems in a way that might provide ideas for solving humanity’s economic, environmental and social challenges. One very popular example in architecture is how termites develop their living environment to include “air conditioning” by virtue of structural design. Here is a video of that solution:
Termite World – Life in the Undergrowth – BBC Attenborough
“For those who know where to look, biomimetically inspired products can be found in almost every corner of the marketplace, from medicine to transportation. But where the emerging field has the potential for the greatest impacts, according to advocates and practitioners, is in changing the way we think about our built environment—not only in designing individual building products, but in conceiving of entire communities as biomimetic systems, not to mention businesses, government bodies and other systems.” – Evolution Meets Creation by Sarah Stroud
This use of nature as a metaphor or analogy to help humans solve their problems is actually a burgeoning field within the sustainability movement. This field is called Biomimicry. The Biomimcry Guild is cataloging nature’s solutions and helping businesses and non-profits innovate products and processes based on nature’s solutions.
“Biomimicry is a design discipline that seeks sustainable and life-friendly solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested ideas. Observing how a 45 ton humpback whale jumps has revolutionised turbines and propellors. Understanding how insects gather moisture in the desert is helping combat drought. Analysing spiders’ has led to stronger, lighter and more durable fabrics.
Biomimics around the world are learning to adhere like a gecko, streamline car bodies like a boxfish, cool buildings like a termite, make fiber optics like a sea sponge, and run a business like a redwood forest.”Heritage Council Workshop Flyer
Here are some examples as discussed by Janine Benyus in this video: Biomimicry in action
Ray Anderson is founder and chairman of Interface Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He is “known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.”1 Since 1995, he has reduced Interface’s waste by a third, and plans to make the company sustainable by 2020. Ray has been called America’s Greenest CEO. Ray reads a poem called Tomorrow’s Child which really hits home about the accountability we all hold for our future generations.