+44 (0) 7973 953586 paul@impro.org.uk

 Here comes destruction or something

The recent climate change talks were a useful reminder that humanity is probably on the cusp of destruction. We need to change our ways from exploitation to preservation. And we need to do so through changes that are attractive and compelling to the biggest powers on earth – people and nature (if we might separate them for a moment).

I was re-reading Janine Benyus’ excellent book, Biomimicry, in which she describes Nature’s Laws:

  • Nature banks on diversity
  • Nature demands local expertise
  • Nature curbs excesses from within
  • Nature taps the power of limits

These observations suggest that the nature of nature is improvisational. The fourth, for example, is about using what’s available to you. The closer the resource and the easier it is to deploy, the better. Your resources dictate what you do, engaging your ability to adapt if you are to survive.

‘When you look at a prairie, you don’t see complete losses from anything – you don’t see net soil erosion or devastating pest epidemics. You don’t see the need for fertilizers or pesticides. You see a system that runs on sun and rain, year after year, with no one to cultivate the soil or plant the seeds. It drinks in no excess inputs and excretes no damaging wastes. It recycles all its nutrients, it conserves water, it produces abundantly, and because it’s chockfull of genetic information and local know-how, it adapts,’ writes Benyus.

One of her extraordinary, or perhaps especially pleasing, findings is that the outputs of eco-friendly systems such as permaculture, grass farming and prairie restoration would exceed those of our more destructive modern agricultural techniques. That’s what we are looking for if change is to be attractive and compelling.


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