Harry Anslinger, 1931.

When Harry Anslinger was first appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, he appeared to be enthusiastically jumping onto a sinking ship. He had just spent over a decade waging a failed war on alcohol, and his department’s budget was slashed before he had barely begun. His goal to eradicate all drugs, everywhere, appeared to be little more than a futile daydream.

He knew something had to change- he had to find a cause strong enough to rally the American people around a full-fledged War on Drugs. …

Red algal blooms produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia Brevis in the Gulf Coast. Image credit to Kai Schumann (https://www.scpr.org/programs/loh-down-on-science/2016/10/24/14511/).

It’s that time of year again- the time when Floridians must throw on their face masks and turn on their fans in response to yet another round of the harmful algal blooms known as “red tide”.

Last year the phytoplankton responsible, Karenia brevis, made headlines after the organism’s seasonal blooms killed thousands of marine animals and saturated the air with neurotoxins. In just a few months, Florida businesses reported losses over $90 million (in data retrieved before the start of September). Doctors’ offices became crowded with patients suffering from respiratory distress and illness. …

Known endearingly as the “turkey tail”, Trametes versicolor is a white-rot fungal species which has been used in the biodegradation of plastics and other materials. (Image cropped from photo by Luc De Leeuw via Flikr, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Lurking beneath the surface of Earth is an organism massive enough to cover 320 miles, responding to every step you take with sensitivity and calculation- a creature whose absence would result in the death of all plant and terrestrial animal life on the planet. Ancient humans venerated the power and mystery which exuded from what they believed to be divine beings- although nowadays, you’re more likely to come across one in the kitchen or college dorm room than the weathered cave paintings of worshippers. In fact, you might already consider him quite the fun-guy.

Fungi, that is. Mushrooms, like the…

Kendall Southworth

Current undergraduate student in Environmental Studies and Religion. Equally passionate about American Transcendentalist philosophy and the Grateful Dead.

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