Tag Archives: carbon sequestration


By John Anderson Lanier
Executive Director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, and one of Ray’s five grandchildren.

I was 18 years old, and I was feeling the butterflies. I didn’t know where I was going, and Atlanta isn’t the easiest town to navigate. In fact, that particular morning was the first time I’d driven alone in Midtown, and I’m pretty sure I took about six extra turns with all the confusing one-way streets. Thankfully, I had planned to arrive an hour early, so I still had plenty of time when I found the right office building.

Unfortunately, the butterflies in my stomach didn’t stop their frantic wing-flapping when I turned off the car. I was about to walk into a room of 10 strangers whose sole intent that day was to judge me. Even seeing their warm smiles as I entered the conference room did nothing to calm my nerves. The butterflies turned it up a notch.

I suppose that I was on-edge because of what was at stake. I had received an immense honor when my high school nominated me for the University of Virginia Jefferson Scholarship, a full academic scholarship to the university I had dreamed of attending for years. Those ten judges were Virginia alumni, and they were interviewing all the scholarship nominees from our region. They would decide who would advance to the next round.

The experience was a blur, and I was saying “thank you” and “goodbye” after what seemed like only a few minutes. Everyone was exceedingly kind and encouraging toward me, but I walked out with the sense that I wouldn’t be moving on. Sure enough, I learned soon after that the judges decided that others were more deserving.

Candidly, they probably were! I was extremely fortunate to attend the University of Virginia even without the scholarship, and when I met a few Jefferson Scholars my first year, I realized how remarkable those students were. In the end, I simply remained grateful that I’d been nominated in the first place.

Team members working on their innovations during our 2017 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge Bootcamp.

I found myself reflecting on that experience a month and a half ago when I participated as a judge for the Design Phase of the most recent Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. Here I was, more than a decade later, with my role completely reversed. No butterflies this time, but that didn’t mean my job was easy!

As a judge, I spent hours reviewing the teams’ slide presentations and videos. I considered how well they utilized biomimicry, addressed the challenge of climate change, communicated their design, scoped a market for their idea, and formed a team. Each submission I reviewed involved an immense amount of work from these teams, and I’m grateful to them for the time and effort they put toward the challenge. While as judges we couldn’t advance every team to the Accelerator Phase, I was impressed by every entry I saw.

You can read about the finalists here. Over the next year, they will continue to refine their designs and develop their business plans. I honestly can’t wait to see how much further they progress, and I know that when we sit down to judge them for the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize®, our jobs won’t be any easier. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Stay tuned for more. With The Biomimicry Institute, we’ll be awarding a Ray of Hope Prize for the previous cohort of finalists at the Bioneers Conference this October (our immense gratitude to Bioneers for hosting!). Also in October, the next Design Phase will open, again with a climate change theme. I’m sure that you’ll be as inspired by all the ideas that emerge as I am. And heck, if you have your own bio-inspired solution to climate change, I urge you to consider joining the Challenge!

Subscribe to the Ecocentricity blog by adding your email in the orange box on this page

About the Author

John A. Lanier joined the Ray C. Anderson Foundation as Executive Director in May 2013. Serving in this role has been an immense honor, and he feels privileged to work with his family to advance the legacy of Ray, his grandfather. Lanier’s passion for environmental stewardship was sparked by Ray’s example and story, and he never tires of sharing this story with others.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Lanier was an associate attorney with Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan, LLP, specializing in U.S. Federal taxation. He represented the interests of various Atlanta-based nonprofits, gaining experience in nonprofit formations, compliance and applications for recognition of tax-exempt status. During that time, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation was one of his clients.

Lanier currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Southface, the southeast’s nonprofit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Project Drawdown and Chattahoochee NOW.

Re-printed, with permission from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ecocentricity blog.

The post Role-Reversal appeared first on Biomimicry Institute.

Six revolutionary ideas to change the way we feed the planet, inspired by nature

The path from farm to fork is fraught with issues. From how we grow our food, to how it’s packaged and stored, how we choose where and what to eat, to what happens to our food waste, there are a lot of problems to be solved. 

One thing that we at the Institute can do to help solve these issues, is guide innovators to look to nature for not only sustainable, but regenerative solutions that optimize natural resources and ensure that nutrients are put back into the supply chains and ecosystems from which they came. 

As our co-founder, Janine Benyus, has said, “Nature does not create things. Nature has things disappear into systems.” This was the challenge that our Biomimicry Global Design Challenge finalists met. Entrepreneurs from across the globe submitted to our annual Challenge (this year focusing on fixing our broken food system), and the top six are now in the running for our top award – the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize®. This Challenge combines the best of nature, entrepreneurship, and science, with innovators from around the world gathering at Bioneers this October to watch it all come together on the main stage.

At Bioneers 2016, John Lanier, the executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, described his family’s dream of advancing his grandfather’s vision and legacy and bringing biomimicry innovations “to life.” This award does just that. By supporting emerging entrepreneurs, and bringing nature-inspired designs from concept to market, we’re ushering in a new era of innovation inspired by nature.

Before we choose a winner, each team will present at our annual Pitch Event and Technology Showcase. This year’s Pitch Event will be held at the Autodesk Pavilion on October 20th. Get your tickets here to network with fellow sustainability thought leaders, and hear from each team as they present their food system innovations.

Last year, team BioNurse from Chile received the Ray of Hope Prize® for their soil restoration innovation, inspired by the yareta plant. This year’s Biomimicry Accelerator teams, comprised of students and designers of all backgrounds, have found inspiration in a multitude of organisms and ecosystems, from cyanobacteria, to ants, kangaroos, bees, and elephants. Their designs embody our philosophy of asking not “what we can take from nature?” but rather, “what can we learn?”

Team BioNurse receives their award!


In alphabetical order, the 2017 teams and their innovations are:


Inspired by cyanobacteria and skunk cabbage, a team from UC San Diego have developed ANSA Technology, a suite of solutions designed to optimize hydroponic growing operations. ANSA is designed to reduce operating costs and solve nutrient balancing issues, providing an economical and sustainable way to provide healthy and organic food for populations with limited resources.

“In nature there is no waste. Waste becomes nutrients for other organisms to thrive … We’re trying to propel the (food) system into a closed-loop cycle” – Cameron Ravanbach, Team ANSA


Inspired by the protective functions of beetles and certain fruits, this Colombian team has created B-all, a sustainable, edible food packaging system, designed to protect food in the journey from producer to consumer. Their target market is people in disaster situations, who have no access to cooking fuel or nutritious food.

“I tell my students, this may sound silly, but if you listen to nature, nature will listen to you.” Maria Jose Leano, Team B-ALL


The Share-EET team, based in London, wants to shift attitudes about food waste using natural models as inspiration. Share-EET’s events are social experiments where customers share a meal while discussing the implications of their food order. Their (non)restaurant model will only thrive if customers make sustainable choices, demonstrating that personal choices have an impact on the larger community.


Nexloop designs biomimetic products and systems to collect and integrate in situ atmospheric water sources into sustainable and affordable urban food production. The design is a modular, scalable building envelope system for food production applications, such as greenhouses, indoor vertical farms, and container farms. The system combines multiple functions from champion species like spiders, ice plants, and mycorrhizal fungi, to capture, filter, store, and distribution water for food growing.


A team from Chile has designed the Slant app that mimics the way ants communicate with each other both through one-on-one interactions and through pheromone trails. This app aims to reduce food waste by creating a platform for users to influence each other’s decisions regarding the quality of food.


Designed by students at the University of Calgary, this electricity-free cooling device is inspired by how mammals and insects regulate temperature. This alternate food preservation unit is designed to not require an electricity grid, to be significantly less expensive than modern refrigeration methods, and to be incorporated into low resource regions where it is most needed.

“The Biomimicry Institute doesn’t just bring ideas together, it’s bringing the world together too, and helping us all work as one.” Jorge Zapote, Team Windchill

With mollusks and micro-organisms as mentors, we look forward to seeing what sustainable innovations these nature-inspired pioneers bring to life (and to market). To learn more about our Biomimicry Global Design Challenge and the design process these teams have gone through to develop their innovations, watch our Biomimicry Bootcamp video:


The post Six revolutionary ideas to change the way we feed the planet, inspired by nature appeared first on Biomimicry Institute.

Little ground for optimism for the future of forests in #Indonesia’s #Riau Province | Maximos’ Blog

Posted by: maximos62 

Some would argue that the forests of Indonesia were undisturbed until recently but there can never be virgin rainforest once people are present.  Beginning as far back 40 000 years ago a process of incremental transformation unfolded along the Indonesian archipelago. This was sustainable change all but invisible yet the very languages and cultures of the archipelago’s forest people were enmeshed and entwined in this process. For the most part, given the low population densities, it left closed canopy forest undisturbed, except for swidden[1] clearings.

Swidden or shifting cultivation had minimal impact on closed canopy rainforest unlike the more recent Slash and Burn farming techniques.

Almost 30 years ago, on an extended four-month journey through East Kalimantan and Sumatra, my expectation was an encounter with myriad plants and animals, of complex ecosystems optimising life forces and climaxing in total profusion.  How wrong I was. Along East Kalimantan’s Mahakam river deforestation was extensive, rafts of logs floated down the great river, the prima

Source: Little ground for optimism for the future of forests in #Indonesia’s #Riau Province | Maximos’ Blog

8 Ways to Sequester Carbon to Avoid Climate Catastrophe — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

“We’re traveling at high speed down a mountain in a car coming up to a hairpin turn, and it’s not so much a question of whether we hit the guard rail as to whether we can slow down enough, so that when we do we bounce off rather than catapult over it into oblivion.” –Klaus Lackner, Arizona State University (on controlling climate change).

via 8 Ways to Sequester Carbon to Avoid Climate Catastrophe — GarryRogers Nature Conservation