6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World
Paul Stamets is a mycologist who specializes in finding out the world-saving quality of mushrooms. He knows that the world, as of today, is in an extremely dire state and there needs to be natural solutions to it. Well – mushrooms can be an answer.
You may know of mushroom as that premium taste at the end of an exotic dish. But it has a host of other uses too. Mycelium is present in several landscapes and helps to hold the soil together. It has the ability to hold about 30,000 times its own mass. The mushroom can be of great help to human beings because they are useful in making antibiotics too. And the best part – like us, they exhale carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen – a strange similarity. The mycelium is almost sentient.
Paul Stamets has brought out a list of the world-saving abilities of mushrooms:
- Oil spills
Oil spills are tormenting the world right now. Polluting marine bodies all over – oil spills have resulted in turning thriving landscapes into dead burial grounds. But when Stamets put in some mycelium on an oil spill, magic started to happen. The mycelium absorbed the oil spill, broke down the complex carbon-hydrogen compounds, and re-built it into carbohydrates. This carbohydrate brought in insects, which in turn, brought in birds. The birds brought the seeds and soon, enough the world-saving fungi helped to develop an eco-system in that place.
- Pollution in farms
When the oil experiment showed such fantastic results, Stamets thought about using the same concept on farmlands. So, he filled up burlap sacs with a mixture of debris and mycelium and put them downstream in a place where they could be used to filter runoff water.
The mycelium did work and decreased the coliform concentration by reducing the bacteria by about 10,000 times.
Agarikon is a kind of mushroom that Stamets believes can work wonders for our body. They are generally found in the old-growth forests and are considered extinct in Europe. In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, the mushroom is rare. Stamets started testing it in collaboration with the Department of Defense and three strains of it were found highly effective against pox and three strains to be highly effective against flu.
- Insect prevention
There are many different kinds of insects like termites, ants, and others which can damage assets like houses, food, etc. and hence, are called pests. Insecticides which are fungal-based, do not work well with these insects because they are aware of how to defend themselves against the spore attacks. Stamets developed mycelium which does not develop spores and thus, attracted ants. The queen ate it. After that, the mushroom popped out of the carcass and this time, it had spore which warned other insects to not come near.
- Making the planet greener
Another great invention of Stamets is the Life Box. To activate the Life Box, Stamets added fungi spores to water, soil and cardboard which created a rich environment to plant more seeds, beans, and onions for different refugee populations. You can even grow a new forest out of it.
- A fuel that is sustainable
Another world-saving feat of the world-saving mushroom is developing a sustainable fuel. We all know how important it is for all of us to have a sustainable fuel source. We are all trying to move away from the fossil fuel form of energy into more renewable and sustainable sources. However, moving from cellulose to ethanol can result in a waste of energy. This can be prevented using mycelium. It acts as an intermediary and converts cellulose to fungal sugars in a natural manner. If we are to be intelligent about how we deal with fuels, we need to make carbon banks and take the concept of renewing soils more seriously.
It’s no wonder that Paul Stamets was given a tribute in Star Trek after his wonderful inventions. Hopefully, his ways can be used for the benefit of the world.