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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 7apr50011

Stamets offers Experimental 
Mycosolution to Japan’s Nuclear Mess

MYCO-REMEDIATE JAPAN? … Shroomfest & Bioneer Psychonaut Paul Stamets is calling his rough-sketched proposal: The Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone <//>. He wants to use hyper-accumulating mycorrhizal mushrooms like Gomphidius glutinosus and Laccaria amethystina to bio-accumulate the radioactive isotope Cesium 137. He’d use this opportunity to run continuing tests of other mycelial species for their radioactivity-absorbent qualities – research that’s in the process of expanding world-wide, as the medicinal properties of mushrooms continue to astound science. This would allow researchers to measure which fungi work best at cleaning up the radioactive isotopes released into the surrounding soils by the Fukushima core meltdowns. The contaminated shrooms would be harvested and incinerated, and the radioactive ash would be “further refined and the resulting concentrates vitrified (placed into glass)” or neutralized using whatever becomes the state-of-the-art long-term nuclear storage technology (still to be invented) … His paper recommends that the Japanese evacuate and fence off a large nuclear zone embracing the devastated fallout areas in the vicinity of the failed Fukushima reactors. He’d have the government assemble “a high-level, diversified remediation team including foresters, mycologists, nuclear and radiation experts, government officials and citizens.” Wood debris from the tsunami would be chipped and mulched into contaminated areas to a minimum depth of 12-24 inches. Native deciduous & conifer trees would be planted in the wood chip mulch inoculated with various radioactivity-concentrating species of fungi. Harvest would be done under hazmat protocols … “By sampling other mushroom-forming fungi for their selective ability to hyper-accumulate radioactivity,” explains Stamets, “We can learn a great deal while helping the ecosystem to recover” … The paper estimates it could take decades to remediation the zone, but the end result could be a forested national park to benefit future generations of Japanese. No analysis of cost accompanies the paper, but it does include a bibliography of ten scientific articles and books on fungal interactions with radiation, including Stamet’s own Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (Ten Speed, Berkeley, 2005).

THANK YOU … Town of Telluride for filling in the blanks in the macadam on the Spur in To-Hell-U-ride … I don’t mind bumping along to moundy slops of stop-gap playdough repairs in commuting into paradise, it’s the ravenous Tyrannosaurus potholes swallowing my tires that gets under my skin.

THE SIDEWALK PHILOSOPHER … Oh, I got scolded the other sunny day, walking down Colorado Ave., for everything Obama and the invidiousness of politicians who promise change, like they have to do to get elected, and then get changed -- usually by a lot more information and diverse opinion, although sometimes payola (our species is particularly adept at scamming a system) … The problem is, once elected, you have to govern, and governance means listening to everyone (public & staff) and finding the people’s balance in each contentious decision, regardless of one’s personal bias. Holding inflexibly to every promise is a terrible strategy for governance. One can hold inflexibly to values and goals, while compromising on particulars if one can’t get a majority of support or move one of the many complex power points in a democracy (tyrannies are much simpler)… I wish more people cared enough to scold me like that. Still, I wish we all had to scold each other a lot less.

PRICE-ANDERSON … That’s the secret back-end subsidy for nuclear power that began in the Atomic Fifties. It caps liability for private nuclear energy corporations at $12.2 billion in case of an unforeseen accident of some unexpected source. Any costs in excess of that amount are the responsibility of taxpayers … Sounds almost reasonable, eh? That’s a lot of cash … Guess again … Here’s Jeffrey St. Clair from Counterpunch last month about the costs of an American nuclear catastrophe: “An controlled pool fire and meltdown at Shearon Harris [nuclear reactor] would put more than two million residents of this rapidly growing section of North Carolina in extreme peril. A recent study by the Brookhaven Labs, not known to overstate nuclear risks, estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage.”

GREENWASH … It’s wonderful that Telluride has always been blessed by Socratic gadflies who won’t let us rest on our laurels. We’ve done a lot of things right (the valley floor) and a lot of things wrong (the airport) – although some would reverse those two -- and maybe our much-vaunted carbon footprint reductions are mostly hot air and rhetoric; and maybe our building code is clumsily regulatory and costly and doesn’t really address the problem; and maybe paper bags are worse than plastic (what about putting a charge on bags like they do in DC, and forcing people to use their own bags?) … Still, I don’t think we have to beat ourselves over the heads because we aren’t pure green. I can’t think of any place that is. But we ought to constantly be improving the green we’re tying to become, and start taking my esteemed fellow citizen Harold Wondsel’s criticisms to heart.


Iraq War Demonstration
San Francisco, 2003

Carried by five blondes
the banner spans the street.

Across the top:

Marching the middle:
big, bright daisies.

The bottom line:

-Doc Dachter
Nevada City

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