History has seen a number of major economic shifts, driven by striking new innovations or ways of thinking. The introduction of the steam engine, factory automation, electricity, microelectronics, and the internet are just a few examples of economic “game changers”. Biomimicry, the emerging field where concepts found in the natural world are used to solve human problems, could represent the next major revolution.
The Fermanian Business & Economic Institute published this week its study of the economic potential of biomimicry. It is huge. We estimate that in just 15 years, biomimicry could affect some $300 billion of annual U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Another $50 billion of GDP represents the reduced pollution from CO2 and other sources and the smaller impact on resource depletion that could be achieved by biomimicry-based solutions. Globally, about $1 trillion of GDP could be affected by biomimicry by 2025.
Environmentalists and business interest have clashed for years over whether we should emphasize preserving our natural resources or promoting growth. Biomimicry provides the key link between “green” and “growth” interests. Nature is the ultimate model of efficiency and it eschews waste. Businesses can find solutions in the natural world that economize on energy and other costs while also offering highly efficient systems. Biomimicry thus has the potential of enabling both sustainability and economic growth to be achieved and gives businesses the economic incentive to accomplish both.
One might ask why man has not embraced biomimicry more heavily before now. It may be because we thought we were much more advanced in terms of the evolutionary cycle than other aspects of the natural world and much “smarter” than other creatures. We may have thought we should control rather than learn from our environment and should try to escape from its constraints rather than respect them.
Biomimicry casts our vision in a new direction. It has the potential of transforming the way we design, produce, transport, and distribute a vast array of goods and services. It indeed could be a major game changer.
*If you would like to purchase a copy of the Biomimicry Economic Impact Study please visit www.pointloma.edu/economicreports