View Full Version : 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

11-16-2014, 01:44 AM

“I see the mycelium as the Earth's natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.”

― Paul Stamets


11-17-2014, 04:06 PM
Excellent! I'm in.


11-20-2014, 09:22 AM


11-20-2014, 08:48 PM

Initial reaction: Emotional terrorism in the first 60 seconds ... "Be afraid. Be very afraid." ... and of yourself. You are the terrorist simply by existing.

Frankly, should you ask The Planet herself, as many have, she's fine and has no idea why we, her children, are so paranoid, save the fact that we are immature and understand very little. She's been through far worse ... nearly incalculable from our perspective ... but quite normal for her.

Why one would start a discussion of raising consciousness with statements of terror is confusing, unless one is intent on snapping peoples' attention with high emotion.

"You are bad. You are the worst there is. You represent death and destruction simply by living. If you want to be good, you'd better listen to me."

These chats are fine, discussing how we're growing up and beginning to understand our playpen, but the arrogance to believe we have as much impact we currently believe is simply a reflection of our actual childishness.

Have these talks. Learn these things. Evolve and improve. Learn and understand. All this is good ... but the belief or even statement that we are "all" or we are more than a new fungus on the planet's surface is arrogance defined.

Sure, this fungus can threaten life on the planet ... sure ... only makes sense ... species have done this across the life of this breathing globe ... but we are no exception, just a recent manifestation ...

Let's grow, evolve and learn, but let's also not pound our chests like our primate predecessors.

In other words, start your talk with, "Sure, we've made some mistakes and also made a bit of a mess, but let's look at some ways to clean it up."

Degrading my self-esteem and making me fear my own existence is not a way to get my attention positively.

By the way ... sponsored by BMW isn't the most positive way to get my attention either. Have you ever noticed how their purchasers drive those cars? Total assholes.

All well and good that patronizing assholes feeds a few pennies to videotape a talk like this, but it's a fair illustration of our rather twisted approach to problem-solving, don't you think?

11-21-2014, 12:26 AM
DS, is that not the way to sell any product...first you pose the problem then propose a solution.
The more dramatic the problem the more likely people are going to want the solution.

I guess the title is a bit strong, "6 ways mushrooms can 'save the world' ", but for effect its better than calling it, "6 ways to overcome 6 problems"; in any talk what you want is people's attention with a dash of emotion to keep them focused.

Sure, this fungus can threaten life on the planet

I don't think that was the message the talk was trying to convey, I think it was trying to tell us that we can work with these fungi to improve the world we live in.

but the arrogance to believe we have as much impact we currently believe is simply a reflection of our actual childishness.

I don't think we can deny the impact we have on our environment...it may not destroy the world, but for us it could make it pretty uncomfortable. A few examples...

I have worked in the waste industry on landfills(UK, England, London). I was astonished to see our daily output of waste. What I saw dumped on one site in a day was more than I expected across the country in a week.

Estrogens from birth control eeking into our water, effecting fish and believed to be contributing to the feminisation of the male population, oil pollution in the Amazon, loss of the rain forests due to logging turning some areas into desert by wind erosion of an already poor topsoil. Over population creating extraneous loads on an already stretched eco-system, diminishing yields from crops moving us toward over fertilisation polluting our rivers and introduction of GM methods of growth with no real holistic picture of the future outcomes, carbon emissions contributing to global warming...that's just off the top of my head so I may have made some bad points, but hopefully it indicates what I'm trying to portray.

In other words, start your talk with, "Sure, we've made some mistakes and also made a bit of a mess, but let's look at some ways to clean it up."
Degrading my self-esteem and making me fear my own existence is not a way to get my attention positively.

I agree that the jackhammer way the message was put across may not be nice, but it does give the message a point of urgency. If said in the way you propose people may think, yes I see the point and maybe we should do something about it 'someday'.

By the way ... sponsored by BMW isn't the most positive way to get my attention either. Have you ever noticed how their purchasers drive those cars? Total assholes.

I have to totally agree with you there ;)

I think looking to nature for lessons in how to live symbiotically with the planet is a move in the right direction.


Dendritic Xylem
11-21-2014, 04:59 AM
DonSweet criticizing Paul Stamets and calling all BMW drivers assholes...:rolleyes:
People will be writing books about Paul Stamets after he dies. He has done more for Mother Earth than 99.99% of humans on this planet.

11-21-2014, 05:38 AM
People will be writing books about Paul Stamets after he dies.

I concur...



11-21-2014, 07:24 AM
Welp ...

I'll admit to a touch of provocation.

Nice to see some responses. Believe it or not, I love to be challenged (literally "love").

dev ... you concur with whom? With what?

Nothing critical. I'm just curious.

As for Mr. Stamets, seems to be great work. Good stuff. I even said so. I was just a little trepidatious (<--- a word of my own invention) about his lead-in. Glancing at his Wiki page, he seems to be quite an accomplished fellow. Again, little of what I wrote was an indictment of his work. There's more discussion about the presentation than the work itself.

Dendritic, you seem to have bit pretty hard on the wrong part of the cookie. As my criticism was based more in all-too-commonly-available gloom-and-doom scare tactics, widely used by any number of factions with dogs in this fight. It was an observation of overused technique many are guilty of, and less specifically of Mr. Stamets.

Merely a year my senior, I might even see myself having a pleasant conversation with him. Could be a fascinating subject, and I'm always willing to learn (in fact, I'm still breathing because there's so much to learn). Just having a Wiki page at all makes him pretty "cool" in the first place.

Ghislain ...

Thanks for the post. Thoughtful. Seems to be your norm.

You appear, however, to have missed one of my points, which I half expected from at least "someone" when I wrote it.

The fungus threatening life on Earth is humans. We are mere fungus.

Thought I'd clarify that.

As for your landfill citations, I couldn't concur more. Been-there-done-that-caught-the-fucking-bug ... literally.

After closing my canvas/upholstery/boat repair business back in the mid-2000's, I had to dispose of the hulk of a fiberglass motorboat left over from the operation. Most refused to cart it off at all, and others wanted huge sums of money, so I had to do it myself. So I borrowed my step-father's pick-up, a friend's boat trailer, and set out with my girlfriend/business partner at the time for the local man-made mountain of crap about an hour away.

It was February and in the low 30's (Fahrenheit), right at freezing. As for catching something from the swill-filled air, I thought I was reasonably safe due to the cold. My girlfriend/partner (a Canadian) insisted on going. She wanted to see this place. You weigh going in, and you weigh going out, paying for the weight you left. The station keeper just told me to drive to the top. There were about a dozen stations, like a toll plaza, each large enough to weigh a tractor-trailer.

Monstrous. Gargantuan. You can see this artificial mountain from the highway near the Delaware river just north of Philly ... leaching into the surrounding low-lying lakes and streams in the area, naturally. I had some perverse thought of them turning it into a ski area in a few years, but it was already that big. The stench on the approach road was heavy and nearly overwhelming. The pick-up and trailer followed 18-wheelers up a winding trash-and-crap strewn trail, flanked by walls and tipping hills of unsteady murky garbage, grey but speckled with remnants of multi-colored marketing. Those big trucks bobbing and tipping, spinning wheels as they sludged up the mountain, through unnaturally grey, slimy pools on momentarily level portions of the well-worn ruts. Brightly lit by a clear day and bright sunlight, backed by crystal blue sky, all over the top of the mountain were odd looking vehicles with arms and bulldozer-like scoops moving the interminable twist of unrecognizable waste. Keeping the windows closed helped, but it seeped through the glass.

It took several slow-moving and cautious minutes to get near the top, but we were directed to a plateau, and not allowed to follow the climb of the 18-wheelers. The odd vehicles were all round and above us, busily arranging the trash, as if it had a critically important final resting place that had to be meticulously tended to. Men were clearly visible now in these contraptions, some actual bulldozers, some not, and they were all outfitted for the cold weather. I wondered where they ate lunch. The air was exactly like shoving your face into the bottom of a restaurant dumpster in July ... I assume ... since I've never actually done that.

Directed to one side of this manufactured plain, butted against the raising terraces of literal scrap and waste jumbled above us, engines grinding all around us, I was directed to back into the embankment, to which I obeyed. Anything to make this faster. In my rearview, I saw the fellow apparently assigned to unload the boat get out of his mechanical thing, and approach the boat and trailer. Knowing it had to be unstrapped, I stated to my passenger that I should help. She cautioned about "danger" but I ignored, and unsealed the unsealed door to the truck, wafting in even thicker, heavy stench, slamming only slightly "cleaner" air behind me and headed back to give a hand.

The heavily insulated worker looked at me like "you got balls dipshit, but thanks," and I proceeded to undo the strap while he hooked up a chain to the boat's transom. He might have even said something like, "I got this," but I waved it off and undid the strap and the chine hook. We exchanged a few words something like, "Just drive it off. Okay. Thanks," and I slogged back to the cab over items of waste barely recognizable as coming from human origins, highly uneven, treacherous, barely navigable, my eyes focused on my vulnerable, sneakered feet and the door to the cab.

Eyes riveted on the rearview, I waited for his signal, my girlfriend's face clearly saying, "That was stupid," and she may have even said the words. Signal given, I employed the engine and the four-wheel drive, tires spinning, yanking the trailer out from under the boat and it toppled to the ground that wasn't really ground at all. With a wave or a salute, thanking the workman, we made our way down the sludgy, winding, gray mountain, got weighed, paid, and left.

A couple days later, my girlfriend left for Canada, driving this time. Sometimes she flew. Two days after that, I was flat on my back in bed ... for the next six weeks ... the middle two weeks only up for the bathroom, family bringing me weak meals. I was coughing and hacking up more fluid than I thought a human body could produce. I'll spare you a description of its unearthly appearance. Needless to say, I caught an evil, insidious bug on that goddamn mountain, and might not have if I wasn't determined to be the goddamned nice guy and help ... but you never know. My girlfriend was fine.

So yeah, Ghislain, I get it.

We're filthy creatures, and we better clean this shit up.

11-21-2014, 10:16 PM
dev ... you concur with whom? With what?

People will be writing books about Paul Stamets after he dies.


11-22-2014, 05:05 AM
Mod Note: Off-topic (orientation related) content removed.

11-22-2014, 08:53 AM
DS thanks for pointing out your metaphor of humans as fungus, but as you may have noticed from the TED Talk fungi put something back that can be useful to others whereas we normally do the reverse.

I think Agent Smith from the matrix got it closer with his little speech to Morpheus when he said:

I'd like to share a revelation during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure.

Just a picky correction about the rubbish you encountered, that was a land build. A land fill is where we quarry out a material we want, such as sand for our concrete empire, and then give back all our waste as if it were a fair exchange. I would laugh if it weren't so sad.

Out of sight, out of mind.