The Stream

Fantastic Fungi: Can mushrooms heal the planet?

On Wednesday, October 14 at 19:30 GMT: 
Famed American mycologist and entrepreneur Paul Stamets thinks that mushrooms can save the world. In a 2008 TED talk, viewed more than six million times, Stamets explained the many ways he believes mushrooms can help restore ecological balance and heal the planet.

Mushrooms, the fruiting body growing from the ground, are well known for their psychedelic and medicinal properties. But a growing body of evidence suggests mycelium, the underground reproductive structures of the organism, could be the environment’s greatest ally in fighting the climate crisis.

Stamets says mushrooms contain the solution to just about every man-made problem, from carbon pollution and oil spills, to plastic waste and, even pandemics. Fungi, of which there are some 1.5 – 5 million species, can provide a critical understanding of how the environment works. Yet, they receive very little attention in conservation efforts, according to a report by Britain’s Botanical Botanic Gardens at Kew.

In a new documentary, ‘Fantastic Fungi’, filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg journeys into the world of mycology with Stamets and other mushroom enthusiasts. For Stamets, this mission is deeply personal: he lost his stutter after a psychedelic experience and says his mother overcame a terminal cancer diagnosis through the use of turkey tail mushrooms.

In this episode of The Stream, we explore the magical world of mushrooms with Paul Stamets and ask whether his ideas really could change the planet.

On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by: 
Paul Stamets, @PaulStamets
Speaker, author and mycologist