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Is the HBO series 'The Last of Us' right about climate change-induced fungus?

01:30 AM Jan 21, 2023 IST | Rajeev Tyagi
is the hbo series  the last of us  right about climate change induced fungus

After House Of The Dragons and The White Lotus S2, HBO is back with yet another tremendous show. The show is already making headlines with its great pilot episode. And, the cherry on the cake is the rave reviews. But, I am sure everyone knows about that. 

Regardless, if you have seen the show then you would be intrigued about the possible fungus mutation which is mentioned in the few initial minutes of the show. Don’t worry, I have saved you trouble, and researched a few things. Here they go.

Fly infected by Cordyceps entomopathogenic fungus CR, Puntarenas, Osa Peninsula Corcovado National Park, Sirena vii.1988 L.E. Gilbert | Courtesy: Flickr

Fungus mystery

So, this post-apocalyptic HBO series talks about fungus injection which takes over the human body completely. Yes, that sounds far-fetched but wait for it. The video game, which the show is based on, has taken inspiration from cordyceps a.k.a. zombie-ant fungus. And, what does the fungus do you ask? According to the Washington Post– it “causes insects to perch on a branch until the fungus bursts out of its body and releases spores.” 

In insects, fungi take over the host’s body and make them so ‘mind-bending’ things. Scary indeed.

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Don’t worry, humans don’t have much to worry about. I mean, unless you’re a character in the show. Humans might face some minor problems, like infections. Otherwise, fungi are used in various health supplements also. LSD and magic mushrooms are fungi.

Fungus is one of the six kingdoms of living organisms. There are millions of fungi, and only a few can make humans sick. But, most humans can easily fight them back.

Read more: What zombie show ‘The Last of Us’ gets right about fungus in a warming world

Evolving fungus

Yes, the fungus is evolving with changing times, and climate. With the increase in temperature ( read climate change), some fungi are found which have more restraint to higher temperatures. But, there is no cause for concern. At max, the fungus can give us hallucinations, which some already use through LSD, and magic mushrooms.

Interestingly, there are not a lot of ways through which you can treat fungus infection. It is said that fungus cells and human cells are quite similar. So, finding treatment is quite difficult. And, the transmission of us fungal disease would be high.

Conclusion

Besides all the information above, there is a fantastic documentary on fungi on Netflix called Fantastic Fungi.

The show follows the story of the world, twenty years after the fungal infection has spread. Not much has been revealed in the first episode, but if you have played the game you might know.

I wasn’t particularly excited about yet another survival thriller, after so many other such shows. Those shows also have failed to engage me, if not impress me. Is this show any different? I suppose it is too early to say. The one hour twenty-minute long first episode, grips you for most parts. But, after a point, the grip loosens. There is nothing new. Although, the whole building is fairly nice and interesting. It does make you curious in parts. 

A new episode would drop every Monday on Disney+ Hotstar in India. I wait to know more, though. It is an HBO production, at the end of the day.

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