Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ants go marching …

Know the feeling when, after inhaling a book, you can’t wait to share your enjoyment with whomever will listen? I’m on a Cradle to Cradle rant; it’s that good. And though the book is not directly related to the subjects of this blog -- creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation -- it’s lessons are plentiful. And, you can make a case that all green-tech creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators should vault the book to the top of their must-read list.

A eco-musing therein about ants – pesty pests that biologist E.O. Wilson characterized as “the little things that run the world” -- reminded me of our metaphorical look at bees and beehives. Here’s the Cradle to Cradle take:

Consider a community of ants. As part of their daily activity, they:
  • safely and effectively handle their own material wastes and those of other species
  • grow and harvest their own food while nurturing the ecosystem of which they are a part
  • construct houses, farms, dumps, cemeteries, living quarters, and food-storage facilities from materials that can be truly recycled
  • create disinfectants and medicines that are healthy, safe, and biodegradable
  • maintain soil health for the entire planet.
Individually we are much larger than ants, but collectively their biomass exceeds ours. Just as there is almost no corner of the globe untouched by human presence, there is almost no land habitat, from harsh desert to inner city, untouched by some species of ant. They are a good example of a population whose density and productiveness are not a problem for the rest of the world, because everything they make and use returns to the cradle-to-cradle cycles of nature. All their materials, even their most deadly chemical weapons, are biodegradable, and when they return to the soil, they supply nutrients, restoring in the process some of those that were taken to support the colony.
In addition to learning from Dr. Seuss and bees, looks like we can gleam much from ants.

1 comment:

Pauline said...

Well written article.