All my environment-related RSS feeds go into a single "green" folder (in Thunderbird). I returned from paternity leave to find that folder bulging with more than 4500 unread entries. Eek. Thus far I’ve been too scared to even open it.

All of which is to say, I’m sure someone’s already covered this. But Newsweek has a nice little article on biomimicry that’s worth reading. It recounts various lessons engineers have learned from nature and the nifty widgets they’ve built. Nothing new for folks familiar with the subject, but a friendly intro.

"If you have a design problem, nature’s probably solved it already," says Janine Benyus, cofounder of the Biomimicry Guild. "After all, it’s had 3.8 billion years to come up with solutions."

"The truth is, natural organisms have managed to do everything we want to do without guzzling fossil fuels, polluting the planet or mortgaging the future," says Benyus.

Indeed.

I wish Newsweek had been more ambitious — perhaps done a cover package on the subject in place of one of their endless lamebrain paeans to religion. As professor Julian Vincent says, "at present there is only a 10% overlap between biology and technology in terms of the mechanisms used." Getting from that 10% to something more like 90% is the Second Industrial Revolution, and it’s going to affect a lot more than LCD screens and water filters.

I wonder what a reconstructed New Orleans would look like if biomimetic principles were applied? Let’s ask McDonough.