Mycoremediation and Its Applications to Oil Spills

by Paul Stamets

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The BP oil spill has inflicted enormous harm in the Gulf of Mexico and will continue to do so for months, if not decades, to come. I have many thoughts on this disaster. My first reaction is that when the skin of the Earth is punctured, bad things can happen.

Clearly, this disaster could and should have been prevented. Despite all their assurances of safety, BP and/or BP’s subcontractors, failed to ensure the functionality of the emergency equipment on the Deep Horizon rig. The oil industry claims that further regulation will handcuff them, but it is now obvious that more steps need to be taken to prevent a catastrophe like this from ever happening again.

However, this spill did happen, and we now must deal with the aftermath. Although estimates have been that BP could be liable for more than 14 billion dollars in clean up damages, very few in the media have mentioned the long-term, generational consequences of this oil spill. There will inevitably be a surge in cancer cases, widespread degradation of wildlife habitat, and an array of diverse and complex strains on local communities, our nation, and the planetary ecosphere as a whole. We all know that the seas are connected, and ultimately our biosphere suffers globally when suffering locally. Now as the hurricane season approaches, we may see catastrophes converge to create what may be the greatest ecological disaster in hundreds of years.

While we will need a wide array of efforts to address this complex problem, mycoremediation is a valuable component in our toolset of solutions. Mycoremediation has demonstrated positive results, verified by scientists in many countries. However, there is more oil spilled than there is currently mycelium available. Much more mycelium is needed and, fortunately, we know how to generate it.

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