Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

By Makayla L.

Paul Stamets is a mycologist that is interested in perusing new creations that are more environmentally friendly through a micro-organism called mycelium. In his Talk, he explains different ways in which a fungi can help save our earth. His research is so advanced, that he has brought new ideas to our world that have the potential to save our ecosystem with a fungi called Mycelium.

Mycelium is the “mother” as Stamets refers to, that gives nutrients through soil to our trees and other plants. He explains that Mycelium is the earth's global Internet. He explains that mycelium connects plants through the ground to one another, and there are many different living organisms within the fungi. He believes that our version of the Internet is a copy of the natural mycelium Internet that has been on earth long before other plants and animals, even the dinosaurs. Through his experiments, he has received over 22 patents from mushroom-related technologies. He has proven that mycelium (a type of mushroom or fungi within the ground) can help our soil become more fertile. He demonstrated this when he compared contaminated soil with mycelium to contaminated soil with fertilizer. Interestingly enough, the soil with the mycelium created a lively environment where plants began to grow, then insects and birds wandered to that pile of soil. The fertilized one sat there with no signs of life at all. This is only one example of how Stamets is proving his new found mushroom technologies. Others include how this fungi contains many important antibiotics that can help cure illnesses such as small pox, H1N1 and other flu-viruses. Stamets also morphed the cultures of bacteria in the fungi into a form with no spores that would attract insects that were raiding his home. With a possitive result, the ants came to the fungi which actually killed the insects and created mushroom-ified ants; that’s right the mushrooms actually grew through the ants dead bodies. There was no reinvasion of any little critters into the house, making the experiment very successful. The pesticide industry called this the most disruptive technology, apart from their 100 million dollar bait stations- which did not have as great of an impact. After many impressive statistics, Stamets stated, “I believe that we can make the argument, that we should save the old growth forest, as a matter of self defence.” Though this seems like a lot to digest, the list goes on. Stamets introduces a new idea of “econol gas”, which could be the fuel of the future. The fuel comes from the energy created by the carbohydrates of a fungi invested plant. This would be a very economically friendly solution, replacing fuels and energy sources that aren’t as environmentally friendly. Staments strives to make the world more economically friendly. He is also very passionate about his profession; it is almost like a hobby for him to discover and research these jaw-dropping organisms. Who knew that something so little could help our gigantic issue - Global Warning. 

Stamets proves his point, making his presentation a very persuasive one. He demonstrates thorough knowledge of mycelium. His experiments are very impressive; so impressive that in the video you can actually hear reactions from the crowd with “wows” and a big applause with a standing ovation at the end of his presentation. I think that Stamets’ work is remarkable. I think it is absolutely attainable in our lifetime to save our earth and Stamets has delivered ways to help us. When I was first watching the video, I was not impressed whatsoever as I felt that the presentation had a very boring start. My feelings towards the presentation turned around when he brought out the statistics about how his research could help in the health care industry. I think that if he had done this sooner in his presentation he would have captured the audiences attention faster, or at least mine. A part of the presentation that I liked was when he explained to the audience that he wasn’t just talking about your everyday mushrooms such as Portobello’s, but a fungi way more advanced that can have more uses in the future than just food. His use of technology was smooth with no glitches and his use of colour in his pictures was very appealing to his audience. However, I felt that he rushed his ending in the presentation. He did not go into as much detail about “econal” fuel as he did with the pesticides and I was looking forward to learning more about the fuel. To contrast that idea, his ending was well delivered in the way that he left his audience thinking about the future of this technology.

At the beginning of his presentation Stamets stated, “I love a challenge, and saving the earth seems like a good one.” If Paul Stamets continues with his experiments and goes farther into his research, imagine how our earth could be changed. Imagine the possibilities within our forests’ and ecosystems that we could obtain. Maybe the world will be a better place to live in.

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