Fungus fact of the day

Fungi are prodigious decomposers, but of their many biochemical achievements, one of the most impressive is this ability of white rot fungi to break down the lignin in wood.  Based on their ability to release free radicals, the peroxidases produced b white rot fungi perform what is technically known as “radical chemistry.”  “Radical” has it right.  These enzymes have forever changed the way that carbon journeys through its earthly cycles.  Today, fungal decomposition — much of it of woody plant matter — is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions, emitting about eighty-five gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere every year.  In 2018, the combustion of fossil fuels by humans emitted around ten gigatons.

That is from the new and excellent book by Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures.

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Is it prejudice to prefer your science-y type books to be written by people called Ed rather than Merlin?

Unless he is named after the engine I suppose. I wonder whast his sister is called.

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What is the social equivalent of fungi? That is: what is capable of eating up the hard unbreakdownable junk in our societies? We need something that can consume rot and turn it into something potentially useful. How do you think about this question?

Not sure where your question leads, but first answer to come to mind is poverty stricken binners and green waste programmes.

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Termites consume rot. Only problem, when your house is truly rotten and termite infested, maybe it takes only one good hard shove to send the whole thing tumbling down.

Various empires didn't survive WWI. "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold" (that was written in 1919). Who is it that won't survive covid? Maybe it's us. It's not the crisis itself, per se, but the knock-on effects. The rot is deep and "the worst are full of passionate intensity."

My favorite poem for its imagery, connection to events of that era, and the general notion of launching something that gets out of control quickly.

This poems comes constantly to mind as I watch the unfolding of the BLM (and it's allies and useful idiots) assault on liberal democracies. It makes sense to go after the soft white underbelly of the USA - slavery, Jim Crow, segregation - but why go after the UK and Australia? The only thing I can come up with right now is that all three nations are tolerant of dissent and have relatively large post modernist constituents.

I can't help but wonder "what rough beast, it's hour come round at last, slouches towards ..."?

Right but what was the rough beast that Yeats perceived at the time that he wrote the poem? Anarchism, or Communism, or modernism, or a rejection of Christianity and a return to pagan values, or a general rejection of tradition and social norms, maybe all of the above?

But we survived that.

Communism, except for a few holdouts such as North Korea and Cuba, did not.

Decades later during the 1960s Joan Didion wrote her essay "Slouching Towards Bethlehem", collected into a book with the same title. One didn't have to be Didion to perceive in the 1960s that maybe the center was not holding.

But we survived that.

In the aftermath of the 1960s we saw the Weather Underground, Red Brigades, Symbionese LIberation Army -- and later, the Aryan Brotherhood, TImothy McVeigh, and various alt-right militants. As for demonstrations, we haven't seen anything close to say the LA riots of 1992 much less what happened in the 1960s.

We'll survive this.

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The modern landfill and methane gas. Great question. More efficient than landfilling without problematic outputs. The scale problem and transportation issue - fungi go to junk. We bring our junk to the microbes in the context of landfilling. Can you decentralize the consumption of junk? My recycling bin overflows - without regard to any systemic benefits. Is nature better at sustainability and recycling?

Carbon is emitted at each step. The mining and transport of raw materials, manufacturing and transporting the goods, collecting and transporting the refuse, and then dumping or recycling the refuse. The 2nd law of dynamics is always in play. At each step work is done so entropy must increase - carbon and waste heat are released.

We can't escape.

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https://phys.org/news/2018-06-fungi-renewable-energy.html
Using fungi to produce renewable energy

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And they said global warming was anthropocentric. It's those white rot fungi, and their radical left wing chemistry. It's all a plot by those liberal radicals.

Liberal radicals or free radicals? Big different Tom. In truth, unless you're Bjorn Lundberg, the baseline is not what nature does, which is constant, but what man does, which can be controlled. That's to say, if fungi have been doing their thing since time immemorial, you can't fault them for anthropogenic global warming.

Bonus trivia: humans have cut down forests, like in Brazil, which have increased global warming from decomposing trees --via fungi--releasing CO2. The only beneficiaries have been termites, which have exploded in population. That said, the US South is a net carbon sink (lots of trees growing where Rayward lives).

The intent was humor, Ray. A parody of climate change deniers. If I have to explain it, I guess I failed.

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The clue that I was not an actual climate change denier was my ability to spell anthropocentric and use it in a sentence.

Using it correctly would have been more impressive. You meant anthropogenic.

Lol!

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I can fault them for fungipogenic global warming. Let's get Greta on this immediately. I'm too busy building a 2 ft sea wall in front of my house to address it myself.

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So termites are part of nature but humans are not?

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Gee, if we just get rid of the forests,
We'll get rid of the fungi.
Problem solved.

Actually, it works the other way; fungi help trees store carbon:

"No fungi means no life. The fate of the Earth's climate literally hangs by threads produced by fungi. These ultra-fine filaments of cells help forests store climate-changing carbon in the ground. The complex process is not well understood by scientists, who estimate there are as many as 3.8 million species of fungi, but so far they've identified just 120,000.

"Six lifetimes wouldn't be enough to explore the kingdom of fungi because there are so many species of fungi and so few people studying them," Price says.

Boston University chemist Jennifer Bhatnagar is one researcher studying fungi and climate change.

"The real area where fungi are influencing climate is by influencing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere," she says.

Bhatnagar says just a tiny pinch of soil can contain several hundred fungal species — many that help regulate global-warming emissions.

"The way they do this is pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing it below ground," she says.

Thanks to fungi there's twice as much carbon locked in the ground as in the atmosphere. One square meter of healthy soil can contain 12,000 miles of tangled fungi filament.

"So essentially the more fungi grow in soil, the more carbon dioxide [that] can be drawn out of the atmosphere," Bhatnagar says.

Here is the link: https://www.wbur.org/news/2018/09/18/mushrooms-fungi-climate

Actually, fungi store carbon, and not just trees.

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Yes, fungi store carbon, as do all organic life, but they don't sequester carbon in the sense of removing it permanently from the atmosphere or ocean in a solid form. Fungi in a mature ecosystem release as much CO2 to the atmosphere as they consume. And they convert solid carbon in trees and other dead plants to gaseous carbon in the air. If you're going to use trees to remove carbon from the atmosphere, you have to stop the fungi from converting the tree back to CO2 at the end of its life.

Tom, If it is a steady state of add and withdraw, it is still a storage.

Climate change will change forests...causing some forests to die.

It's the dead trees from climate change, and not the fungi which then consume the dead wood.

Also, Tom, if you read the article I posted, as forests get warmer, there is more rapid decomposition, leading to increase carbon dioxide release. Read the article.

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Americans have stored about 10 billion more pounds of carbon in their bodies than they should. If this keeps up we can power the country with our own crematoria.

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The trick to using forests for carbon removal is to cut down the trees, bury the logs where oxygen won't permeate (and fungus won't grow), then grow more trees on the cleared land. Trees are effective in converting gaseous carbon to solid carbon, but you have to prevent fungus from acting to reverse the cycle. That's how all of those hydrocarbons in the form of coal, oil and gas got where they are: Solid organic matter (plants) that was buried and then slowly converted by heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen. A fungus needs oxygen to do its thing.

Mature forests release as much carbon as they trap, of course. Left to itself, nature reaches a steady state.

Why not cut the trees and use the wood for construction, effectively using buildings as carbon storage.

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Hands Off The Fungi! Fungal Lives Matter.

The Animal Rights Activists (aka Antifa) are already on it.

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"Today, fungal decomposition — much of it of woody plant matter — is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions, emitting about eighty-five gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere every year. In 2018, the combustion of fossil fuels by humans emitted around ten gigatons."

Economists of late seem to reject the iron law of zero sum.

To decompose woody plant material, the woody plant must first be produced by converting CO2 in the air and water into organic compounds like cellulose. Thus the carbon cycle is virtually zero sum.

And over geologic time, a fraction of the carbon in CO2 has been sequestered for thousands, millions, and in some cases approaching a billion year.

One type of sequestration that took tens to hundreds of million years is coal, oil, gas.

Nothing in nature requires a increase in fixing CO2 into coal, oil, and gas under ground when humans dig it up and burn it.

Nature has at various times acted to burn fixed carbon in peat/thermofrost, such as the basalt lava flows in what we call Siberia about 250 million years ago, around the time of the mass dying between the Permian Triassic.

I grew up when economists understood zero sum. Today they no longer do, thinking for example that decaying plants are not matched by growing plants balancing to CO2 produced and absorbed.

Likewise, economists think cutting consumer income will increase GDP by increasing consumer spending.

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Judging from the comments above whether or not fungi release carbon in large amounts becomes a political issue, like everything else.

You are right. Read

https://www.newsweek.com/key-defeating-covid-19-already-exists-we-need-start-using-it-opinion-1519535

and ask yourself why comrade Tyler canceled it. Comrade Cuomo shouted to members of the Greatest Generation: No hydroxychloroquine for you!

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pangolins fact of the day- not satire
" a put up job" by the mercatus center senor lipson is pancake worthy

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First, we've got to get rid of that pesky Milankovitch cycle.

Indeed, it gives me the shivers just thinking about it. The whole thing leaves me cold.

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This is the son of parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake you're talking about, I'd wait for the fact checkers to have a look before reviewing this one.

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