Paul Stamets is a well known mycologist, a scientist who studies fungi, who does experiments in mycological remediation as well as other research involving fungi. The mycoremediation process uses certain types of fungi to clean up environmental toxins or to bring health back to the soil in areas of clear cut logging or other areas where soil has been abused. In Stamets’ view mushrooms can be a key component in reversing some of the damage done by the wanton mistreatment of the planet’s various ecosystems from forests and waterways to urban and industrial sites. In the video below he chronicles one such experiment using mushrooms to clean up piles of dirt contaminated with fossil fuels and other toxic substances such as heavy metals. The mushrooms break down the chemicals to the point of being inert. They also take up the heavy metals but do not break them down.
This leads me to an “I wonder” moment and the following question. If the mushrooms were used to concentrate the heavy metals into their tissues, could the heavy metals then be extracted by allowing the mushrooms to decompose on top of or raised slightly above a powerful magnet? If so, could the metals then be made useful in the manufacture of metal tools or other useful items? I literally have no idea. Perhaps this question would be answered with a resounding “No!”. It would be tremendously exciting if something like this could work though. Not only exciting but a game changer in environmental remediation.
We need to be asking a lot of different questions like this in order to regenerate soil, clean up watersheds, creeks, rivers, lakes and the oceans. We need brilliant minds to come up with effective ways to remediate toxins in the environment without using other toxic chemicals or a proverbial sledge hammer when a feather duster will do the trick. Design solutions for reinhabiting the planet (which means to live mindfully in conjunction with the natural world and one’s neighbors) are of vital importance to the here and now as scientist warn of us of the potential for systemic biosphere collapse, i.e. a mass extinction that includes human beings. It’s time to re-imagine our lives and our way of living on the planet, to engage in right livelihoods that are sustainable, regenerative, and peaceful. It’s well past time to cease funding research and development of war machinery and weapons of mass destruction and to begin funding sustainable systems research for basically every facet of life to provide food, fiber, shelter, water and meaningful activity to people across the globe. We’re ostensibly intelligent. If we’re smart enough to devise ways of destroying the systems that support life (air, water, soil, communities) then we are smart enough to create ways that foster and regenerate those systems. Let’s get to it.
Watch the following video and be inspired. Ask questions. Change your world.