Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives
FIVE DESIGN PRINCIPLES
Based on observation of the natural world and existing ZERI projects, these design principles offer a framework for emulating nature as we consciously co-participate in the evolution of our planet.
FIRST DESIGN PRINCIPLE
No one species eats its own waste; whatever is waste for one, is food for another species belonging to another kingdom
If one species starts to eat its own waste it will deteriorate. When cattle farmers started to feed cows with waste from other cows they violated this principle - and it led to the outbreak of mad cow disease. Shrimp farmers made the same mistake when shrimps were fed their own waste - leading to white shrimp virus. A lion will eat an antelope, but would a lion consider the manure of the antelope. There are exceptions which confirm the rule; occasionally a dog may be spotted eating its own waste, though this is a matter of strengthening, challenging its immune system. If an animal were only ingesting its own waste, and behave as a cannibal, it would never survive. If industry were to re-use all its own waste, then it decreases its flexibility and increases the risk of failure.
The waste of one industry should be used as a value-added input for another industry.
If one species is fed its own waste, it will degenerate.
SECOND DESIGN PRINCIPLE
Whatever is a toxin for a species belonging to one kingdom will be neutral, or a nutrient, for another species in at least one other kingdom.
As humans we tend to classify things that are toxic only from a human point of view. We assume that anything that is toxic for us must also be toxic for all other species in every kingdom. In addition, we view viruses as universally dangerous. Cyanide and Arsenic are well known toxin for animals, but several plant species produce it and use it effectively as a defense against predators. Apples are rich in cyanide, and so are peaches, though none of these have to be labeled “dangerous – cyanide inside”. If you have a problem with an old gold mine, and cyanide leaching, simply plant an apple orchard and over the years the toxins will be eliminated. Probably, the cyanide will be gone well before the lawyers will come to a final agreement settling on responsibilities and costs. We simply can not define toxins solely from the point of view of humans (animals), we need to assess the importance of toxins from all species belonging to the 5 Kingdoms.
If one species eliminates toxins within its own system, it will degenerate.
THIRD DESIGN PRINCIPLE
Whenever highly complex ecosystems operate, viruses to remain inactive and even disappear without causing harm passing through at least 2 other kingdom.
The reality, though, is that viruses are kingdom-specific and can be eliminated if we apply the first design principle. The reason why the slaughter-house practice of boiling waste meat prior to feeding it to other cattle won’t necessarily work is precisely because of the first design principle. The prion causing madcow disease could survive high temperatures. To eliminate the prion or a virus, the left-over waste meat must go through the other 4 kingdoms. The consumption of antibiotics is therefore detrimental over time. Indeed, this medicine could kill the virus but it causes a lot of collateral damage as well. One dosis of antibiotics reduces the intestinal flora’s efficiency for a couple years, and chemotherapy can all but destroy the digestive system.
If we attempt to kill viruses within the same system, over time it will degenerate.
FOURTH DESIGN PRINCIPLE
The more diverse and local the systems, the more efficient and resilient their operations. When systems are more efficient and more resilient, the more diverse and the more local they are operating.
A group of plants and trees in a temperate climate do not feel the need to bring some fungi from the tropics. The plants and trees in coexistence and in co-evolution with species belonging to the other four kingdoms will create the best, most effective system from within the boundaries of its own micro system. Relating this to our global economy we see that we want everything from everywhere at any place and time. We have increased the fragility of our own system because if one or two links break, the whole system could fall apart. The more local the activities, the stronger they are – and there will be much more flexibility as diversity increases. A system that is local will be more efficient and resilient. Companies are in search of local supply and better integration into the local economy. Whereas global (out)sourcing, supply chain management and customer relations are considered key components of a successful business, the capacity to be local globally requires a new wave of creative and innovative strategies.
If non-native species are forced to become part of the ecosystem, it will degenerate.
FIFTH DESIGN PRINCIPLE
All kingdoms combined, integrate and separate matter at ambient temperature and pressure.
A spider makes its nylon-like fiber at ambient temperature and pressure, from diverse raw materials. The moment the tension drops, it starts disintegrating. The spider operates at ambient temperature and pressure with fungi in its guts, and bacteria to control the process, with plant components as food. The mollusk in the cold water produces a ceramic that is stronger than bullet-proof ceramic. In nature, no one knows how to make fire or change pressure at will, yet products from nature outperform human made artifacts. Industry has set up a supply chain management which delivers components within very precise and uniform parameters. All assembly and disassembly requires high temperature and pressure, causing pollution and entropy. It is considered that the use of chemistry, temperature and pressure speed up production and facilitates standardization.
Creativity and innovation on the other hand is the only way to find the best of both worlds. If industry emulates the “all-inclusive approach” of nature, it will be able to produce more efficiently, at lower, cost-slashing energy needs. Whereas this seems impossible today, it is this type of creative approach that requires a passion for thinking out of the box. This requires taking risks. This is the unique role corporations must assume.
When matter is integrated and separated beyond the energy provided by the sun, without taking into consideration the specific involvement of each of the five kingdoms, the process will cause entropy.
When business understands the five kingdoms and the four design principles, as well as the principle of sustainability as defined before, then it will realize that there is a tremendous potential for creativity, innovation and leadership redefining the competitive framework of business for decades to come.