The ideal plant

The Salk Institute in the US has been working on an intriguingly clever idea to combat global warming: modified plants that absorb excess CO2 from the atmosphere

24th February 2019
Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

Scientists at the Salk Institute situated in California have been working on an immensely important project for the past few years. Professor Joanne Chory and her colleagues have been working on developing ‘The Ideal Plant’.

The Ideal Plant is one of the many potential solutions that scientists around the world have considered to deal with the surging problem of global warming and climate change. Specifically, Prof. Chory and her colleagues want to create a plant that has the capacity to remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store them in their extensive roots.

As a potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is guilty for aiding the rise in temperatures – so lowering the concentration of this gas will make a difference in resolving the catastrophe. Professor Joanne Chory and her colleagues at the Salk Institute, California, have over the last few years been working on the Ideal Plant project.

The main idea of this project has been to create plants which are more efficient at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their roots. Plants are naturally very good at this, as they have been doing it for millions of years. They are able to do this due to a compound called 'suberin'. The plants created in the Salk institute will produce more suberin, so thus will in turn remove more carbon dioxide.

Even though it’s still too early to say if they will eventually achieve their goal, many scientists are excited about the idea, and have emphasised the need for drastic solutions to both cut down on future carbon dioxide emissions, as well as to remove some of the already existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

If we continue to heat our planet at such an alarming rate as we currently are, human life will not exist in 50 to 100 years. This is shocking to us all, and there are many ideas floating around on how to combat this crisis. By making the planet just 2% more efficient, the issue of climate change will be significantly reduced.

Further to this, the project aims to have positive downstream consequences elsewhere which are at risk – such as food, clothing, energy, and medicines.

Other ideas by the Salk institute include the use of coastal marine plants – which have 30 times the capacity for storing carbon dioxide.

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