A COMPARISON TO THE BODY & BEHAVIOR OF ORGANISMS THAT EVOLVED TO ADAPT TO THEIR ENVIRONMENT
Adaptation to climate change is a crucial issue that humanity must address in order to sustainably develop civilized societies.
There is an international consensus that measures to address climate change can be divided into two categories: mitigation and adaptation measures.
Mitigation measures aim to prevent global warming. They are very simple in their approach, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or preserving and enhancing the absorptive capacity of forests and other areas.
Adaptation measures, on the other hand, tend to be harder to understand, as they aim to manage the effects of climate change. They are complex and intertwined with various issues (such as disaster prevention, resource management, agriculture, poverty, food, or security) and have diverse approaches, making it difficult to grasp the whole picture.
ADAPTMENT looks to the physical structure and behavioral principles of living organisms to model climate change adaptation in easily understandable ways. This is because the bodies of living organisms have evolved to adapt to changes in the environment, making them our most accessible references.
THE STRUCTURE OF ADAPTATIVE EVOLUTION
THE ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION
OF THE BODY
It’s helpful to consider the adaptive evolution of the urban environment, architecture, and civil engineering, as the hardware or infrastructure that protects our lives.
Under the ADAPTMENT concept of the adaptive evolution of the body, we envision the structure of a flexible city that adapts to its environment by referring to the physical structure of living organisms.
Human beings have a body that can prevent damage to itself by understanding the dangers of the outside world through the Perceptivity of its nervous system, Redundancies like fat that buffer damage, Flexibility like muscles that react, Cyclicity like blood vessels that move resources within the body, Robustness like bones that protect us from impact, and Recoverability that heals wounds to the body.
ADAPTMENT is based on the concept of flexible urban structures and explores the possibilities of urban development that is not only robust but also flexible.
Detecting and avoiding danger through sensors
Living organisms are equipped with the ability to rapidly detect dangerous occurrences as a safety mechanism to help them survive. The sensation of pain is an example of this. If we can quickly sense danger through earthquake alerts and weather satellites, we will be better able to avoid disasters.
Biological tissues heal themselves when damaged, but most man-made objects do not heal spontaneously when broken. However, the proven self-healing properties of ancient Roman concrete mixed with lime, or generic modules that can be replaced, such as those found in Japanese houses, can increase resilience to damage in architecture and civil engineering.
Preventing damage with buffer zones
The body of an organism has buffer areas where pain is felt but does not cause significant damage. These seemingly “useless” buffers contain the surplus needed to sustain life, and this redundancy protects the organism from damage before it can occur. Creating buffer zones, such as wildlife sanctuaries, is one way to increase the potential for natural recovery.
Circulating resources internally without external sources
The veins that collect carbon dioxide and waste products from the body clean the blood and circulate oxygen and nutrients. Creating a resource circulation system within the community and mechanisms to revalue waste can help create a resilient society that is not dependent on external resources.
Bouncing back from change through flexibility and resilience
Muscles bend and rebound under tension to recover from changes in the external environment. In climate change countermeasures, the ability to resist external forces and absorb damage, like the flexibility seen in muscles, is beneficial. Specific measures could include the seismic isolation of buildings and sharing disaster preparedness case studies.
Protecting against damage through robustness
Just as skin can be damaged without the bones underneath being broken, designing an overall structure to be robust is essential to survival strategies. Building houses with concrete structures only on the ground floor could replace sea walls, and maximizing the use of existing robust structures can help us prepare for the risks posed by climate change.
THE STRUCTURE OF ADAPTATIVE EVOLUTION
THE ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION
OF THE BEHAVIOR
We can consider the adaptive evolution of the urban environment (including civic behavior and disaster preparedness/communities within this culture) as a kind of “software”.
The ADAPTMENT concept of adaptive evolution of behavior learns from the adaptive behavior of organisms to create a flexible environment.
It includes several primary elements: Observability, the ability to understand what is happening to us; Memorability, the ability to pass on information about disasters that have occurred in the past at that location; Predictability, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future crises; Mobility, the ability to move from place to place when danger is imminent; and Cooperation, the ability to help each other within the community.
To adapt to severe climate change, resilience must be based on citizen-to-citizen relationships, not just by focusing on infrastructure-as-hardware.
ADAPTMENT explores the development of citizen action plans for disaster preparedness, learning from these patterns of adaptive behavior to create a community based on more flexible and resilient relationships.
Observing and assessing situations
The ability to observe a situation allows us to see if the current context is adaptable to an adverse event. If we know that we cannot withstand a critical situation, we need to accelerate our preparations for it. The ability to assess and understand current development approaches is a prerequisite for adaptation.
Learning from past crises and passing on memories
Natural disasters often recur in cycles of several years to several hundred years. Therefore, sharing memories of past experiences with future generations is critical to the safety of society as a whole. Passing on memories and providing a way for people today to learn from them will help prevent future disasters.
Anticipating what a crisis might look like
What would happen to us if a critical event were to occur? We have the ability to anticipate and prepare for these conditions before we experience them. Today, disasters can be simulated in a variety of ways. Using technology to improve the accuracy of future predictions will lead to greater security.
Escape critical situations and move what you need
When our lives are in danger, our instinct is to flee. Cultivating this ability to escape, not only through livelihood mobility but also through agricultural and industrial mobility, can help us adapt to climate change. We should anticipate the coming climate and consider strategies to maintain stability by moving crops and technologies to where they are needed for future climate changes.
Creating a community of mutual aid
The power of the local community members to help each other is a resource that can prevent an adverse event from reaching a critical point, and allows people to help each other recover from such a crisis. Resilience requires building trust in the local community even before a climate disaster occurs.
Communicating the arrival of a crisis widely to your surroundings
Organisms protect themselves and their herds by communicating information in various ways, such as howling to warn mates of approaching enemies or using visual cues to attract females. In addition, our ability to communicate has evolved through human language. Methods of warning of danger and communicating information needed for adaptation can be improved through various means, such as selecting appropriate media and designing to make information attractive.