Mountain habits in Tibet are being decimated to collect caterpillars that, when infected with a parasite, produce a particular fungus. However, trying to create this fungus in a factory setting is not working—and the fungus has never been proven to have any benefits anyway. An essay on ruining nature for a whole lot of pointless other than greed. Too often the case.

Over the course of seven years and thousands of rugged miles, I intermittently followed Tenzin and other treasure hunters on the fevered trail of the caterpillar fungus. Along the way, I worked on my Ph.D. in biology at Harvard University, probing the mysteries of the caterpillar fungus. I hoped to uncover a solution to avert the disaster I saw looming for the millions of rural Tibetans whose lives depended on it.