To describe Groser’s target as self-serving lies and misinformation is to understate the moral repugnance, contempt and shame I feel.
Biomimicry.

The word trills off the tongue and seems to offer a means to solving some of the many problems besetting society at the moment.

A new science but an ancient practice, biomimicry aims to study nature’s ways and then replicate them for inclusion in products and processes that will solve our human problems.

This ‘scientific’ approach is based on observing nature and designing products and processes to accord with nature’s way.

800px-Velcro_HooksThe best-known and perhaps most commercially successful example of biomimicry is the humble velcro strip. This was invented in 1941 when a Swiss engineer wondered why plant burrs stuck so well to his dog’s hair. Then there is the sharkskin-inspired swimsuit worn by Michael Phelps at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In the renewable electricity generation sector we see the windstalk, a design concept taking its clues from the way a field of wheat sways in the wind. The biowave is an underwater generator based on mimicking the way kelp moves in ocean swells. And new solar cells have been developed in the laboratory that mimic the surface of a leaf to maximise the collection of solar energy.

Permaculture, a contraction of permanent agriculture, is an agricultural system that mimics nature and is both sustainable and sufficient.

A local example of this is the Franklin Food Forest, a permaculture project that is converting the Pukekohe High School orchard to a community learning and demonstration food forest. The project aims to create four separate food forests, each with a different design focus – urban, rural, commercial and shelter belt – and each mimicking the permanence and resilience of natural forests.

Mimicking biological systems is all good and dandy. But behind it is a scientific rationalism and economic ideology that will not solve the underlying issues. When those biomimiced innovations are commercialised, many will only serve to reinforce the drivers of the problems we face because they do not front up to the root cause of our unsustainable ways.

Problems like carbon emissions, waste management and factory farming may be able to be dealt to by biomimicry. But in achieving that, we neglect the underlying causes. A lot like putting a band aid on a cold sore and ignoring the contagious virus that causes the problem.

There are other problems we face, ones that biomimicry cannot solve because they are rooted in our economic system. Problems like climate change, global financial collapse, food and water shortages, social inequality, unaffordable housing, child poverty, the poisoning of our people by agrochemical companies, and attempts by big banks and businesses to circumvent democracy. Such a long list!

The greatest of all these problem, is climate change.

The evidence is clear that this is a human-caused problem and if we do not solve it, then nature will solve it for us. And the way nature will solve this problem will be the same way it deals to all scourges.

Which is why the government’s response to their climate change consultations is so worrying.

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser claimed last week, that New Zealand is doing its “fair share” on climate action. His “more ambitious carbon emissions reduction target” of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 (actually only 11% below 1990 levels), received widespread scorn and ridicule.

To describe his target as self-serving lies and misinformation is to understate the moral repugnance, contempt and shame I feel. Now, how can we biomimic his comeuppance?