“[If] every organism had a right to vote, would we be voted on the planet or off the planet? I think that vote is occurring right now.” This riveting idea is the question Paul Stamets used to begin his TED talk entitled 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World. His lecture focuses on the properties of the extremely tenacious fungi, mycelium, which he deems “the soil magician.” As a California graphic design firm, Urban Geko is constantly discovering new ways to engage in ecologically friendly business practices in the field of design. In honor of Earth Day this coming Saturday April 17th, we would like to share with our readers inspiring environmental stories like Paul Stamets’. We do this in hopes that our eco-friendly examples will motivate you to do your part in “saving the world.”
Stamets does not get through his entire list of mycelium mushroom properties, but I’d love to share with you the four amazing ones he did.
1. Cleaning Polluted Soil
Stamets performed an experiment with Battelle Laboratories where he inoculated a pile saturated with diesel and petroleum waste with mushroom mycelium. The results were stunning. The mushroom not only absorbed the oil, they “opened the door for other biological communities.” The spores of the mushroom attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted seeds. Think of the implications mycelium has for growing ecological systems all over the world!
2. Fighting Viruses
Stamets submitted a sample of mycelium mushrooms to test if they were “highly active” against pox viruses. Mycelium mushrooms were found to be highly active against small pox and Agaricon mushrooms were found to be highly active against flu viruses.
3. Generating New Insecticides
The main issue the pesticide industry has been battling over the years is how to develop bait that doesn’t repel the insects they are trying to exterminate. Stamets developed a non-sporluating form of the mycelium mushroom that successfully attracted and killed insects. Stamets states that “…this is the most disruptive technology, I’vebeen told by executives in the pesticide industry, that they have ever witnessed.”
4. Using Mycelium as an Intermediary for Alternative Energy
His final point addresses the use of mycelium mushrooms as a tool for addressing the energy crisis currently at hand. This involves using mycelium as an intermediary between cellulose and ethanol to produce an “econologically intelligent” generation of fuels.
Before Stamets began listing the six incredible mushroom experiments, he proposes that mycelium is Earth’s first “natural internet.” The highly branched organism transfers nutrients and information, very similarly to the way we communicate via the world wide web. If mycelium is indeed the original prototype of today’s internet that has connected the world in unimaginable ways, then our Los Angeles website design firm has all the more respect for the environment.