Inspired by nature: Water Tips (Green Prophet)

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Inspired by nature:   Water Tips For The Middle East #1

Tafline Laylin

In a region where water grows increasingly scarce, we look to nature for various tips on how to make the most of what we have.

Melissa Sterry, a futurologist and scientist whose “Bionic City” incorporates lessons from biomimicry, resilience theory, and living architecture to create a city model that can withstand any extreme natural phenomena, explained that nature has thousands of solutions to the Middle East’s water problems.

Inspired by this, we’ve decided to embark on a quest to bring our readers examples of fauna and flora that have adapted shrewd solutions to water conservation, extraction, or filtration. We’re kicking off with an inconspicuous little beetle from the Namib desert that has a few slick tricks on its wings. Possibly the world’s oldest, the vast Namib desert in Angola and Namibia is about as dry and unfriendly as a place can be. And yet, creatures and plants are miraculously able to make their home there.

Stenocara takes advantage of the desert’s water-saturated air (produced as a result of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean) which combines with desert winds to create dense morning fogs. By standing down the fog at a 45 degree angle with its hard (hydrophilic) wings spread, the beetle traps microscopic droplets of water.

On its back, Stenocara has a series of hydrophilic (water-loving) bumps and waxy, hydrophobic (water-fearing) grooves. The water droplets coalesce on the bumps until they become so heavy that they topple into and then travel along the grooves into the beetle’s mouth.

Practical application:

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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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