Bjornerud discusses the Earth’s geomimicry

Rebecca Carvalho

Marcia Bjornerud, professor
of geology and Walter Schober
Professor of Environmental Studies
at Lawrence, delivered a convocation
on the topic of geomimicry Tuesday,
Oct. 20 in the Lawrence Memorial
Bjornerud is the second speaker
in the 2009-2010 convocation series,
which has the theme of sustainability
for a better living and preservation
of the earth.
At the convocation, President Jill
Beck acknowledged Bjornerud as the
first recipient of Lawrence’s Faculty
Convocations Award.
Speaking to an audience consisting
mostly of Lawrence’s faculty
members and freshmen students,
Bjornerud used her professional
experience in the field to present
what she called five design principles
that are signatures of the health
of Earth.
“Geomimicry, looking at the
Earth as our mentor and model,
could provide a politically neutral
option that all nations could agree
with,” said Bjornerud.
She stated that humans are citizens
of a planet that they need to
know better, and that they holdan
“adolescent attitude toward the
Earth” which is now causing negative
geological and economical consequences.
According to Bjornerud, people
need to rethink their priorities and
look toward an old counselor – the
Earth – for principles that have
been ruling nature and preserving it
through history.
The first principle, heliophilia,
states that life is a child of the sun.
Bjornerud advocated for the use of
solar power.
The second principle describes
how everything on the planet has
been naturally recycled, such as the
constant flow of water. Adopting
recycling techniques, such as reusing
building materials, could help lessen
the burden of human consumption
on Earth.
The third principle, nestedness,
shows that the planet represents a
structured architecture of ecosystems
focused not on the number of
species, but on how interconnected
they are.
This third principle also suggests
the broad gap between developed
and developing nations represents
a lack of collaboration and coexistence.
The fourth principle, microcracy,
“ruled by the tiny,” shows the importance
of tiny organisms, such as
cyanobacteria, to the maintenance
of the Earth. Bjornerud mentioned
the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Muhammad Yunus, whose formation of the Grameen Bank has created economic and social development from below.
According to Bjornerud, the fifth and last principle, chronosophy, represents “the wisdom that comes by observing, embracing, and learning with time.” She stated that human beings forget the time-scale impact they have on Earth.
Bjornerud concluded her lecture by advocating once more for a sense of collective memory that will enable us to better understand how our planet naturally manages itself. She stated that nature must not be faced as an obstacle to overcome and that nature is not apart from us.
“We are citizens not only of a global economy – but of a global ecosystem,” Bjornerud said.
Bjornerud, author of “Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth”, has spent the last 20 years travelling around the world studying geology and the human impact on Earth’s future. Recently, she spent four months on a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship analyzing rocks in New Zealand.