We talk about aliens from space, but would we recognize one if we saw it? I say no, they are already here and you know them.Find author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com
Aliens Are Among Us And Available to Help Us and Our Planet
I know some of my hypotheses sound rather extraordinary.
I may be a little weird, but I'd rather be weird and right than normal and wrong.
- Paul Stamets, scholar of ancient mycotechnology, owner of Fungi Perfecti
Paul Stamets is definitely not like you and me. He knows stuff. He knows how to clean up the land around Fukushima without burying millions of tons of contaminated dirt. He offered a method to clean up, naturally, the oil spill from Deep Horizon. Despite his proof, yes proof, no one in power took him seriously.
Frankly, after reading what I have about him, I would not be surprised if one day I learn that he has ways we can adapt to global warming and its inevitable consequences. (But not yet for that. Bear with me.)
This article is not about Stamets, but about the beings he cares about. You may think you know about these beings, but chances are you will be more than a little surprised.
When I was a kid (maybe when you were too) I was taught that everything could be divided into three categories: animal, vegetable or mineral. Everything we could think of fit into one of those three categories.
The beings I refer to are living things on our planet. Yet not animal, vegetable or mineral, by common definitions. These things may be more shocking, based on what they can do, than any you might have imagined. True, a few people have died over the years through contact with them, but the fault was with the ignorance of the people, not of the beings in question.
Note that these are not the vicious conquering type of aliens we have read about or seen in movies for decades in science fiction. They are about as friendly and helpful to humans as it's possible to be.
I never could figure out why humans thought of aliens from other worlds as conquerors who would destroy us and what we know. Would we do that if we sent a ship through space to another inhabited planet? Would our astronauts be expected to destroy any life they may find on Mars in coming decades? No.
Before we get to the names, descriptions and modus operandi of these alien creatures, I want you to try to imagine what you think aliens might look like. The fact is, we have no idea. We don't even know if we would recognize aliens as life forms if they did not conform to our sci-fi images. Remember, it was not that long ago that homo sapiens without white skin were considered to be subhuman, simpler life forms, with much lower intelligence than those with white skin. We really know very little about life of any kind.
Might an alien breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide? Ours do. At least some of them do. How would they move? On feet, hoofs, paws or flexible skin (think snakes), as we are familiar with? Ours don't. They have roots, at least some of them. They spread or "re-seed" as some plants do. In fact, one being in the west of the USA is so large that it lives in the ground under four contiguous states. No other living thing we know is that large.
Would it have a brain? Almost certainly. At least something we might consider a brain. In fact, some of our beings contain pathways inside that, under a microscope, look very similar to pathways of the human brain. Hmmm.
Might they engage in agriculture? Some of our creatures are known to feed trees, from which they later gain nutrients for themselves. In fact, evidence suggests that they have been known to provide extra nutrients for young trees that are suffering because they can't get enough sunlight because other nearby taller trees are blocking light from reaching them.
Might they create chlorophyll, as plants do? Ours don't. In fact, they might consume dying plants (as we do) to extract chlorophyll and other nutrients from them. Keep in mind that all life forms we know consume other life forms to continue their existence--every single one of them.
Some of our aliens live in a symbiotic relationship with plant life we are more familiar with. Some live in a symbiotic relationship with animal life we are familiar with.
You may even have some of our alien life forms in your refrigerator. In fact, health aficionados recommend them highly as extremely beneficial for your health. Not long ago they were considered junk, not worth eating, parasites to the plant world. How our thinking changes as we learn more.
Enough with the teasing. The aliens in your refrigerator are mushrooms. The dangerous ones are called toadstools. Both are fungi, a huge group now considered to be a Kingdom (like animals and vegetables) of their own. When you look at a mushroom in the ground, what you see is the fruit, what you eat is the fruit of the organism.
Fungi are now known to comprise an enormous Kingdom with some 1.5 million members. Among the more familiar ones are yeasts and molds. Yes, they do breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, like animals. Yes, some do have neural systems that look similar to that of human brains. They are subject to many of the same diseases as animals. Like animals, who lack the ability to make chlorophyll and to photosynthesize, they eat other forms of life.
Fungi are a diverse Kingdom. Some, such as yeast, are single cells. Others, like molds, are multicellular. And, yes, the largest known living being is under four states in the western USA. But don't plan a vacation to see it, it is underground. It feeds trees and it feeds off trees. Strange, huh? Kind of....alien.
If humans did the same sorts of things as some fungi, they would be said to be farming, acting in sympathetic or even empathetic ways to other beings, possibly altruistic. As it is, most people think of fungi as some kinds of strange plants.
To conclude, let's look at several ways in which fungi could help us to save our planet.
People have made use of fungi for thousands of years. Ötzi, the famous 5000 year old "Ice Man" whose body was discovered a few years ago, carried amadou with him. The spongy inner layer of the horse hoof fungus, amadou has been used for everything from making clothing (it feels and is worn like felt, and is as warm), as tinder for starting fires, for dressing wounds because of its antimicrobial properties, and for preserving foods.
Amadou is the first medicinal ever recorded. Hippocrates (he who created the Hippocratic oath, sworn by new medical doctors-- basically: first, do no harm) recorded it in 450 BCE as an anti-inflammatory. Of course you would not likely see it for sale today because it is available naturally on every continent and cheap to make (thus making it of no interest to drug manufacturers).
Soil could be enhanced with mycorrhizal fungi which would eliminate the need for toxic chemical fertilizers while improving crop yields.
Biodiesel made from mushrooms would require less soil and other resources than crops used at present. And mushrooms grow fast.
Petrochemicals and radiation could be removed from contaminated soil and water as mushrooms can break them down and absorb them. Slimy spike-cap mushrooms gobble up radioactive cesium-137, for example. Mushrooms will not harm the environment, rather they improve it. They would improve soil formerly contaminated with glyphosate.
Mushrooms could be used to clean runoff from storm drains, farms, logging roads or contamination from mines.
Select fungi could be used to kill off certain species of pests while remaining safe for others and not harming the ground in which they are grown.
Carefully selected mushrooms could be used to make new antibiotics, antivirals, immune-boosting compounds and even chemotherapies. Agarikon mushrooms, for example, could be used to protect against bird flu, swine flu, even smallpox.
Mushrooms could be used to symbiotically enhance growth of new forests or reforestation of clear-cut land. They help trees grow and, in turn, gain nutrients from the same trees.
Mushrooms grow quickly, provide many essential nutrients and grow in almost any environment. They could be used to provide quick and fresh relief in disaster zones and refugee camps using just wood chips or saltwater-soaked straw as a starting medium.
Mushrooms could be used not only as freshly-grown food for space travelers, but also as materials for terraforming on new planets due to their ability to create new soil relatively quickly.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions for problems that affect every family and every community, but almost everyone believes they are simply consequences of modern society.
Learn more at http://billallin.com
[Primary Resource: "Mushroom Manifesto", by Kenneth Miller, Discover, July/August 2013]