Nature's Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies

Overview

Archiving ancient corn strains to guard against genetic pollution? Coating chainsaw blades with mushroom spores to speed forest regeneration? Growing crops that literally suck heavy metals out of damaged soil? These are not utopian fantasies but proven strategies developed by experts who understand that working with living systems, rather than suppressing them, is the key to creating a sustainable future. For this second volume in Sierra Club Books' Bioneers Series, Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel has gathered ...
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Nature's Operating Instructions: The True Biotechnologies

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Overview

Archiving ancient corn strains to guard against genetic pollution? Coating chainsaw blades with mushroom spores to speed forest regeneration? Growing crops that literally suck heavy metals out of damaged soil? These are not utopian fantasies but proven strategies developed by experts who understand that working with living systems, rather than suppressing them, is the key to creating a sustainable future. For this second volume in Sierra Club Books' Bioneers Series, Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel has gathered reports from scientific innovators on such diverse topics as biomimicry (mimicking nature to restore environments and transform production processes); "living technologies" that break down toxics biologically; and ecologically sound design for industries and buildings. These are set alongside essays by visionaries such as Paul Hawken, Terry Tempest Williams, and Michael Pollan that underscore the urgent need for working in harmony with nature's intelligent design. Unlike the corporatized genetics that claims the name "biotechnology," the true biotechnologies surveyed here illuminate a future of hope by "wedding human ingenuity with the wisdom of the wild," in the words of contributor John Todd. Sector by sector - from energy and agriculture to transportation and land management - this book shows how we humans can emulate and adapt nature's operating instructions to the benefit of all life on Earth.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This engaging collection of essays, culled from the Bioneers Conference, explores the possibilities for eco-consciousness to infiltrate and transform the industrial economy. The subtitle refers not to conventional corporate biotech (which is denounced in several essays, including Elaine Ingham's account of a genetically modified bacterium that could have wiped out all terrestrial plant life), but innovations based on the wisdom and engineering prowess of Mother Nature. On the micro-level, these include self-cleaning paints modeled on the structure of leaves, bacteria that eat oil spills and gardens that treat sewage run-off and sequester heavy metals. On the macro-level, they include industrial processes that, like thrifty ecosystems, recycle wastes or eliminate them altogether, and experiments with a "new paradigm for agriculture" inspired by prairies. The bird's-eye view is offered by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, who advocate a natural capitalism based on the flow of services rather than the production of goods. Some of the pieces are written by green entrepreneurs touting their wares, with a less than meticulous accounting of performance and costs, and the eco-moralizing can sometimes be heavy-handed. But the articles are stuffed with intriguing ideas, and while they sound a necessary alarm about environmental destruction, they also point the way forward to solutions. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578050994
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Series: The Bioneers Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,046,168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenny Ausubel is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and social entrepreneur specializing in health and the environment. He founded the Bioneers Conference and its nonprofit parent, the Collective Heritage Institute, in 1990. Ausubel edited (with J. P. Harpignies) Ecological Medicine: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves, the first volume in the Bioneers series, and he is the author of three books: Seeds of Change: The Living Treasure; The Bioneers: A Declaration of Interdependence; and When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies. He lives in Santa Fe.
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Table of Contents

Foreward
Introduction
Biomimicry : what would nature do here? 3
Living technologies : wedding human ingenuity to the wisdom of the wild 17
Magic mushrooms : planetary healing with deep biology 32
Bioremediation : waste equals food 42
Heavy metal blues : botanical detox centers 50
Nature's filters : from cattails to bureaucrats 57
The human-nature dance : people as a keystone species 69
Indigenous science : the cultivated landscape of Native America 80
The green-fire wolf : saving wildlands with a wild heart 92
Have a cow : the paradox of rangeland restoration 99
Think like a prairie : solving the 10,000-year-old problem of agriculture 106
Noah's new ark : conserving seed diversity in the garden 114
Weaving community : restoring the ecology of Los Angeles 119
Ignorance is not bliss : the perils of genetic engineering 129
Unnatural selection : the bacterium that (almost) ate the world 135
Genetic pollution : a life of its own 140
Natural capitalism : brother, can you spare a paradigm? 147
Natural capitalism : where the rubber meets the road 161
Reinventing the wheel : transportation down the road 175
Ecological design : the architecture of democracy 189
Whaaa!? : how the dragonfly turned my head 197
From miracle to magic : spirituality as political consciousness 199
The phosphorescent soul : swimming with mystery 206
The eye of the world : sex, beauty, fraud, and kinship 208
Planet 'hood : making the world our home 211
A world made of stories : saving the web of cultural life 214
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