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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Maybe biomimicry can finish saving the Cuyahoga.

The new, nature-inspired engineering could be the source of environmental improvements to the river that runs through Cleveland — especially in the biologically challenged, steel-lined shipping channel.

That someday is already dawning, some key river advocates say.

Biomimicry is the fast-growing field in which engineers, artists and designers are drawing more and more from natural examples of successful adaptations to solve human problems.

“Biomimicry really is a complete game-changer,” said Paul Alsenas, director of Cuyahoga County’s planning commission, which has glommed onto the nature-as-model notion.

“All the economic discussions that we’re having in trying to find a long-term, permanent basis for true redevelopment are related to biomimicry in that they have to start with the natural, with the physical geography,” Alsenas said. “And the Cuyahoga River is the defining feature, along with Lake Erie, of the place we call home.”

Biomimetic answers in past and present

Biomimicry is not a new concept, of course. The Wright brothers were said to modify their first successful plane a century ago after watching a turkey vulture lazily circling overhead.

But now the belief that humans can better the world by mimicking nature instead of fighting against it is being fully incorporated into the larger ecological movement.

“There has been a longtime disconnect between how nature operates and how we as humans have built our civilization,” Alsenas said.

“Now, at this point in human history, we’re really finally beginning to understand the depth of how nature works — how it creates not only beauty, but does so with efficiency and a lack of waste.”

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Article courtesy of: cleveland.com

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