Nature: The Most Advanced Technology
By Michael McGehee at Jul 31, 2008
It occurred to me the other day (thanks to a book a friend suggested: Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the Way We Make Things) that our industrial and technological achievements come nowhere close to that of nature.
The slow evolutionary process of genetically engineering billions of intricate living systems that coexist while producing more than what is needed for consumption and without accruing "waste" is far more efficient, effective, diverse and advanced than anything we have ever created as a highly intelligent species.
Take plants for example. They have designed leaves that capture sunlight for energy (think solar panels) without utilizing hazardous toxins and chemicals in their development and production. In fact, unlike human examples of energy consumption (i.e. oil, coal, etc.) plants feed on harmful products like carbon dioxide while spewing out good products like oxygen.
Or take ants - who make-up a biomass greater than ourselves. They are infinitely better farmers, "cattle" grazers and workers. They produce, farm and consume but they give back to their ecosystems valuable assets (for more info check out some of the work E.O. Wilson has done).
This is the essential point of Cradle to Cradle: our modern industrialism is obsolete and archaic. It was before it even began. We are doing things backwards instead of forwards.
The most advanced form of technology is nature itself and we need to rethink and redesign industries around the process of nature so that when producing and consuming we are coexisting with the planet; so that we are giving back instead of taking and spoiling.
Another interesting thought that occurred to me while reading the book was how similar in logic and progressive radicalism the book is to PARECON.
Cradle to Cradle puts a heavy emphasis on efficiency (actually, even more so with what they call "eco-effectiveness"), diversity, solidarity and concern for future generations.
The also share the idea that modern forms of industry and economics need more than reform, but to be completely overhauled with something that actually adheres to the values desired. They both realize that getting there won't happen over night and will rely on non-reformist reformations. Those on the Left that might consider themselves to be Pareconists and enviornmentalists would do good by checking out this book.