Biologist Creating Super Plants To Combat Climate Change

Joanne Chory
Joanne Chory, Salk Institute

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

This is the only climate technology which really frightens me.

This scientist thinks she has the key to curb climate change: super plants

Adam Popescu in La Jolla, California
Tue 16 Apr 2019 20.00 AEST

Dr Joanne Chory hopes that genetic modifications to enhance plants’ natural carbon-fixing traits could play a key role – but knows that time is short, for her and the planet

She is now working to design plants capable of storing even more carbon dioxide in their roots. Her Ideal Plant project uses gene editing – via traditional horticulture and Crispr – to do so. On a large scale, this could suck enough carbon out of the atmosphere to slow down climate change.

This concept basically splices the genes of regular crops and everyday plants like beans, corn and cotton, with a new compound that makes them absorb more carbon. Their roots then transfer it to the soil to keep it there. 

This approach essentially supercharges what nature already does.

“I get worked up when I talk about the project,” Chory tells me in an office at the Salk Institute, a revered bio research campus at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in southern California. Her desk is full of posies, awards, family photos and framed magazine covers from science journals. “We have to find a way to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and I think plants are the only way to do that affordably,” Chory says.
“I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says, letting out a laugh. “It is a lot of pressure.”

Developing these Ideal Plants is step one in the Harnessing Plants Initiative, which amplifies root systems and production of suberin – which is essentially cork, or the rind on your cantaloupe, the magic key to plants holding more of that carbon – before transferring these genetic traits to row and cover crops. Given the right resources, and funding, prototypes of each crop are expected to be ready in the next five years.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/16/super-plants-climate-change-joanne-chory-carbon-dioxide

Why do I think this technology is so frightening?

Back in the depths of the last ice age, CO2 levels dropped so low the world almost ended.

Despite wild claims by some climate scientists, it seems extraordinarily unlikely we have broken the 2.6 million year old Quaternary Glaciation pattern of hundred thousand year ice ages interrupted by brief interglacials lasting 10-20 thousand years.

No civilisation lasts forever. No interglacial lasts forever. One day the ice will return. If the ice returns when human civilisation is at an ebb, civilisation could collapse.

But regardless of what happens to people, wild variants of “super plants” with enhanced CO2 absorbing capabilities might survive. Cover crops, already resilient to winter conditions, with genetically enhanced CO2 absorbing capabilities and unnaturally strong root systems, might cope really well with the onslaught of the next ice age.

Perhaps wild descendants of the “ideal plants” will survive well enough to keep drawing down CO2 levels, even lower than during the last glacial maximum.

104 thoughts on “Biologist Creating Super Plants To Combat Climate Change

    • Plant carbon in the soil becomes carbon for fungi and bacteria, which act to decay the plant matter and release CO2 and methane.

      It makes for richer soil as a circulating system, nothing more.

      Any hopes or fears on this matter are preposterous.

      • the people doing CRISPR have admitted it is NOT perfect and “unintended” gene strands appeared ie some humans died in trials of the supposedly perfected techniques. plant and animals so engineerd wont be any diferent. and the the soil biota etc have that to contend with and you’d be praying that they didnt alter too.
        and outcrossing is always a high risk as already happened with prior gmo crapcrops.
        weight of the world on her shoulders?
        Id have her tied n shackled in jail to keep her and her like away from the lab bench.

        • “I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says

          Well then, wake up from your self-induced climate nightmare and get on with life.

          Of course, she won’t because it makes her feel really important. If her desk is full of selfies photos and her awards, she clear is an attention seeker who needs the attention.

          Like most of the save the world brigade, it puts meaning into their lives over which they ( rightly ) feel they have lost all control.

          • I wonder how the “NON GMO” crowd will react to the news of GMO crops that have the ability to reduce their equally feared CO2?

          • Dr Joanne Chory sayith:

            This concept basically splices the genes of regular crops and everyday plants like beans, corn and cotton, with a new compound that makes them absorb more carbon.

            Sounds like a winner to me, given the fact that, to wit:

            A potato is 79% water, 17% carbohydrates and 2% protein,
            A sugar beet is 75% water, 20% sugar and 5% pulp.

            “YUP”, just splice the genes of potatoes and/or sugar beets into the bean plants and them bean roots would then transfer all that carbon into the soil along with all that nitrogen.

            But don’t plant any corn in that patch of GMO beans because the corn is likely to “suck up” that sequestered carbon along with that sequestered nitrogen.

        • If GMO food crops are considered unacceptable due to their “Frankenstein” reputation by the ignoratti, why aren’t they equally alarmed by this abomination, which doesn’t seem to have any benefit to its creators.

      • Yup – vewy scawy predictions from anti-climate alarmists are just as foolish as those from climate alarmists.

        Hey, when the next glaciation period is in full force, society as we know it will not survive. Billions of humans will not survive. It is unavoidable – that’s what happens when ice sheets 2 km thick cover the northern 2/3 of North America, Europe, and Asia. We will be long gone by then, of course.

        All humans can do is adapt when it happens … but human society as we know it will be a vastly smaller population, and the transition will be in fact very terrible. Super plants won’t matter.

        And besides, the carbon never goes anywhere .. it is always within the biosphere and the oceans, it will not and cannot just disappear, and the world will never “end” until our sun turns into a red giant and consumes the entire inner ring of our solar system.

        • I wonder if Mexico will want to build a wall to keep the Glaciation Refugees of Northern America (USA, Canada) out??

        • “….that’s what happens when ice sheets 2 km thick cover the northern 2/3 of North America, Europe, and Asia. We will be long gone by then”

          Who do you mean by “we”? Presumably, millions, if not billions will survive in the Southern hemisphere. Indeed, as the ice sheet gradually develops, there’ll be a mass exodus from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere, which won’t be without turmoil ……..

          • We as in those humans alive today.

            Humanity won’t be eradicated by the next glaciation, any more than humanity was eradicated by the previous two dozen glaciations. But not at a population of 7 to 8 billion. The transition will see massive translocation, massive starvation, massive economic dislocation, probably lots of warfighting over increasingly scarce resources of all kinds.

            In any case, most of the world’s arable and habitable lands are located in the northern hemisphere that will be under the 2 km thick ice sheet for the next 80 to 100 K years. It would not be difficult to imagine a human population collapse down to the tens of millions from today’s billions. Very rough lifespan for all involved.

            And it is inevitable.

      • which act to decay the plant matter and release

        At best there might be a 25 {?} year period of net sequestering.

        These ideas are like people playing “dodge ball” rather than chess,
        no thinking, just react.

    • The big question is how good these hyped up plants are at working at low CO2 concentrations. They might just fail and die. Remember C4 plants evolved to be able to thrive in a low CO2 world, while C3 plants suffered. There is no mention of which plants are being altered here. It is important to also consider that a plant that hyper fixes CO2 might not work well when forced to idle under low CO2.

      I drove a souped up Camaro many years ago and the engine only ran well when it was accelerating. It sounded like a junk pile when idling and shook the whole car.

      • Plants like horsetails are leftovers from the Carboniferous period, which was awash in high oxygen levels. They’d thrive. Ferns might return to their ancestral states, too, and become large and almost woody like alethoptera. But trees like oaks and maples and willows didn’t come along until much, much later.

        • “the Carboniferous period, which was awash in high oxygen levels”

          As a matter of fact the Carboniferous was the only previous interval when CO2 was about as low as now.

          • Carboniferous period oxygen levels:
            Mean atmospheric O2 content over period duration c. 32.3 vol % (162 % of modern level)
            Mean atmospheric CO2 level: 800ppm

    • So genetic modification to create golden rice to combat millions of cases of blindness and death of children in the third world is bad, according to the radical greens…

      … but genetic modification to create monster plants to suck life-giving CO2 out of the atmosphere is good?

      Eric is correct when he wrote:
      “Back in the depths of the last ice age, CO2 levels dropped so low the world almost ended.”
      More correctly:
      “Back in the depths of the last ice age, CO2 levels dropped so low that terrestrial life on Earth almost ended.”

      The radical greens keep trying to place humanity on a collision course with oblivion.

      I personally don’t think that is such a great idea. I like humanity – at least most of them.

      Regards, Allan

      • Has anyone asked this bright idea person if she knows about and understands the consequence of low CO2? Like, for example, dragonflies ratcheting up into meganeura (griffinfly), with jaws strong enough to bite through her skin – that sort of thing. There are descendants still around of those oversize centipedes Arthroneura, which grew up to 8.5 feet long. There are photos of SE Asian 3 footers. They bite. Don’t make good pets. Bugs have a different respiratory system, you know.

        Why is it that these Frankenstein clones always think they know better than Mother Nature what is good for the world?

        • Carboniferous period oxygen levels:
          Mean atmospheric O2 content over period duration c. 32.3 vol % (162 % of modern level)
          I don’t think humans as a species would do very well at that level. Inhaling excessively oxygen levels of oxygen leads to serious medical issues.

          Anyone want the Big Bugs like Meganeura (griffinfly – giant dragonfly) and Arthroneura (8.5 foot centipede) back on the planet? Yeah, me neither.

        • Instead of CAGW we need to fear CAES

          Catastrophic Anthropogenic Extinction by Scientist. It is not the planet that is in trouble it is Homo Sapien.

      • Those of us living in the US below the Mason Dixon line know that kudzu was imported to solve a problem. (Erosion if I recall correctly.)

        (For those of you not living in the South, the big problem now is how to get rid of kudzu.)

      • Yup, this idea is scary and George Daddis’s Kudzu reference that follows is very appropriate. So, how do we control this additional CO2 removal once the modified species are let out of the gate? Sure, we may be able to set the plant’s temperature preference. And, we could keep it a hybrid with no reproductive capacity except manual propagation but overshooting the amount of removal desired could lead to the Kudzu Syndrome (and, mind you, any CO2 removal brings the prospect of reduced food production which is not good for our growing world population). Very scary.

    • plants thrive with an increase in CO2, just what idiocy does this woman have in mind, the destruction of the planet?

    • Embrace it, people. I, for one, am ready to serve my plant overlords.

      All praise the Salad God!

      • See the Dr. Who episode “The Seeds of Doom” featuring everybody’s favorite herb the Krynoid! “On most planets the animals eat the vegetation. On planets where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animals.”

  1. Come on Eric, now this is over the top. Evolution means useless features like carbon storing genes will die out in wild varieties.

    This doesn’t have an effing effect on anything, but it is good if environmentalists stop fearing gmo so badly.

    • “Evolution means useless features like carbon storing genes will die out in wild varieties.”
      That is not a useless feature. The plant will see that as a plus and will incorporate it in its evolution. Storing more carbon is useful as it helps in photosynthesis. There are 50000 plant species that are edible, but we rely on only about 150 major ones for nourishment and just 3 make up 2/3 of the world’s calories, wheat corn and rice. Add in barley and you have 3/4 of the world’s grain market. If all of our domestic grains are sucking up too much carbon, the rest of the plants will starve along with them when levels get too low. This idea MUST be stopped.

      • Eric, Alan

        I really don’t see anything to worry about at all here. Unless you are one of those folk who gets apoplexy when they contemplate the idea of GM plants per se. The chances of creating a crop that will run amok and change the course of evolution is very remote. Nature’s lab has trillions of clinical trials going on all the time.

        But I agree, bioengineering the amount of CO2 is not a worthwhile objective, even were it practical.

        • c3 plants self limit their CO2 gathering and basically find themselves gasping for breath once they’ve competitively sucked the available CO2 down to levels unusable to their method of photosynthesis.. C4 and CAM photosynthesizing plants have no such limits and can take CO2 down to zero.. however their metabolism is much slower and they can’t compete with V3’s.

          Now add something new.. something that CAN suck it all down, good by nearby C3’s..

          Mars , Venus and Earth all started out near as we can tell with 95% CO2, Mars and Venus are still at near 95% CO2. Earths greedy little plants have us down to 0.04%. you think one group with a new pathway advantage would politely stop at some point? Trillions of tons of coal beneath our feet .. tens of kilometer deep seams which once stood above ground in Wall-E style rubbish piles of accumulated dead biomass -piles tens of kilometers high are testament to plants ability to go for broke.

          No, I’m with Eric, this should be something that should make us very very nervous.

  2. Sooner or later one of the geoforming, climate engineering, Triffid sowing wack jobs is going to be let of the leash and actually do something. So many B grade sci fi movie plots all just waiting for enough stupidity and $ to align so they can become real. She does have an oddly Dr Stran.gelove look about her

  3. Dr Joanne Chory, who appears quite enchanted with Global Warming/Climate Change, would like to introduce her own version of the Day of the Triffids, in an attempt to overcome an imaginary crisis in her own mind.

  4. Well funded stupidity …”The Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative to combat climate change using plants, led by Professor Joanne Chory, executive director of the Harnessing Plants Initiative, will receive funding of more than $35 million from over 10 individuals and organizations through The Audacious Project, a highly competitive program housed at TED, the nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading. The collective commitments represent one of the largest gifts to a single project in the Institute’s history.”

  5. A better solution for sequestering carbon in the soil. Fertilize the bush doze in a greenie, or a warmist.

  6. This sounds like a self-extinguishing experiment using the planet for the test. Take the CO2 out of the atmosphere which plants require and permantly fix it in the soil. Not enough CO2 and eventually not many plants. Lots of ice though. Brilliant.

    • She is neither. She is dangerous.

      “I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says, letting out a laugh. “It is a lot of pressure.”

      Self inflicted? Just let plants do what they do best, they certainly don’t need any help from us.

  7. So left-wing nutjobs have stumbled into another possible solution to the fermi paradox. We’ll have to add a new “virtue signaling” term to the drake equation

    • efficiency for food and fodder can be achieved naturally though hybrids are one hit wonders anyway. this extra woodiness would be pretty stupid re managing fodder that animals would want or derive nutrition from if theyre tougher and less digestible, never minding other unforseen events. if the plants are woody then what are the once edible seeds ie of the beans going to be like to try n eat for humans too?

      theres a bumper sticker on a car in town

      “save the planet-plant a greenie”

  8. Those plants will become extinct when global temperatures will decrease which will induce a natural decrease in CO2 concentrations.

    Needless to say that in the meantime they will have decimated the other plants and contribute to devastate crops where CO2 is not massively injected in greenhouses to make up for the eco disaster caused by Dr Joanne Chory.

    The main question is :
    – how can such an idiotic and dangerous project be subsidized ?

    There is a reason for hope though :

    – Nature seems to be strongly idiot-proof.

  9. Based on the paleoclimate record and the work done with models, one can conclude that the climate change that we are experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and there is plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. The plants that she hopes to develop cannot possible have any effect on climate.

  10. This project is stupid. CO2 is gas of life on Earth. Without it, no O2, no plants, no trees, no human beeings, no animals, no WUWT, no stupid alarmistes…..

    We need CO2 and 405 ppm is not enough : we need more CO2 in the atmosphere.

  11. This project is stupid. CO2 is gas of life on Earth. Without it, no O2, no plants, no trees, no human beeings, no animals, no WUWT, no stupid alarmistes… We need CO2 and 405 ppm is not enough : we need more CO2 in the atmosphere.

  12. If you could at the same time biologically engineer the proposal with a gene that the plant dies below 400ppm Co2 it could be a winner

  13. Jo Nova has a much better solution to combat climate change – fix the broken computer models that are forecasting it.

  14. Sorry Sweetness, there are no free lunches round here – here being= Planet Earth

    In part I’d venture why Golden Rice** appears to be such a fail.
    If there are no (longer the) raw materials within your soil to create Vitamins A thro Z in your crop, no amount of scientific cleverness will put it there

    Thus how CO2 is not our Current Problem – legions of supposedly scientific yet uneducated fools like this are.
    As the saying goes, Beware ‘Stupid People’, especially when they occur in large number

    **The main part being how Golden Rice Seed is soooo generously made available to growers at ‘Cost Price’
    That’s cosy – *who* determines the Cost Price and how?

    • the plants DO produce Vit A carrots being the most famous but many others and fruits. however its outright poverty thats the sole cause. if you cant buy anything bar tiny bits of rice or white corn in africa(seen to be better cos its white like white bread ie rich people eat that so we want it too) then solve the poverty or misguided food choices above all.

  15. Don’t worry. She will be haunded out of her job by greenies for daring to suggest her GM crops could be a good thing. Every greeny knows GM stuff is from the devil himself.

    I do hope though that she adds the capacity to produce grape-like fruits. Then, after the critters have sucked all carbondioxide out of the atmosphere we would at least have a decent drink and can die happy.

    • Plus the fermentation to make the wine from the grapes would add carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, thus saving the Earth. Grow more grapes, drink more wine!!!!!!!!

    • Zuiderwijk, without enough carbon in general, grapes will not produce enough sugar to make a good wine. A good wine requires, sunshine, rain, fertile soil and room for the vines to breathe. Wine is an alcohol, which has a carbon-based structure, whether’s fresh from the pressings or mise en bouteille a few years later, and the alcohol comes from sugar in the grapes and vines. No CO2 means no fat, juicy, sugar-filled grapes = no wine.

      Now I want bread, cheese, and a sunny spot on the veranda.

    • Probably very little because they would be devoting not enough time and energy to all the other activities that they need to do in order to compete successfully with other plants and predators/diseases.

      There seems to be a common misconception that several billion years of evolution has produced organisms that are somehow unfit for their environment, just waiting for humans to come along and make the perfect organism with a little tweak here and there. If it was long-term benefical to be fixing more carbon than needed, then something would probably already be doing it.

      • Some grasses exude into the soil 50% of the plant sap they produce via photosynthesis. They do that to encourage arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus growth.

        It’s a very beneficial symbiosis as the fungus works hard to increase the quality of the soil, but it is also a slow process. It takes 10 years at a minimum to increase soil health meaningfully.

        Annual plants apparently didn’t evolve a trait that takes a decade (10 generations) to pay off.

        Gene splicing that trait from perennial grasses to annual crops could have a massive impact.

  16. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. It’s called megalomania, methinks.

  17. Most fears of GM organisms are vastly exaggerated because they are actually less well equiped to persist in the natural environment.

    The real world is the school of very very hard knocks which selects out variations with no real benefits to the organism. Also think what would happen to domesticated animals without humans to maintain their cosseted lifestyles. They could neither feed themselves adequately nor protect themselves from predators and disease. Some of them probably couldn’t even reproduce without human help.

    • they may in some cases fall over. however most manage to keep seeding the seeds however are a devils bag of genes all over the shop.
      and then theres UNapproved supposedly destroyed crops like canadian unis Triffid flax…which is found globally contaminating flaxseed.
      some do all too well , canola on roadsides here in Aus from dropped seed in transportation are a REAL problem. trial crop of it in tasmania were still coming up after 12+yrs of supposed eradication

  18. Arrogant dingbats. Please someone stop this deranged scientist before she causes actual harm

    What’s the bets the 3rd world gets used to test these plants, just like these nutcases use the 3rd world to test all sorts of eco catastrophe things that actually kill many

    • Maybe not. People are usually incapable of coming up with arguments against the gmo better than Eric’s, and Eric’s arguments were weak to start with. Targeting people just annoys them and gets some bad reputation for us.

      This is not a dangerous idea, only useless.

  19. “I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says, letting out a laugh. “It is a lot of pressure.”

    The Alarmist CAGW propaganda has driven many people crazy with fear. Ms Chory is another victim. Let’s hope her, and other’s, deperation doesn’t victimize the Earth’s living things with some stupid plan to fix a CO2 problem that does not exist.

  20. Dr Joanne Chory hopes that genetic modifications to enhance plants’ natural carbon-fixing traits could play a key role – but knows that time is short, for her and the planet[.]

    This seems to me to be a prime example of an expert in one area of science relying on the expertise of scientists in another field.

    I don’t think I’m going very far out on a limb here when I say that Dr. Chory probably is totally unaware of Climategate, Mike’s Nature trick, the failures and foibles of climate models, the Pause, the innumerable failed climate doomsday predictions, and the broad picture of climate change over geologic time. That, and then there’s a ton of money available for anything tied to “Climate Change.”

    The question is, given that Dr. Chory can readily get money for “Climate Change” research, what would she do if she was brought up to speed on the issues I mentioned as well as other facts brought up in this comment thread?

    The money is there. The “experts” in another field have spoken. “Everyone Knows” the World will end if we don’t get rid of CO2 (it’s on every channel and in all the papers). She’d be shunned, defunded, and maybe fired if she didn’t toe the CAGW line. Why would we expect Dr. Chory to do anything differently?

    Fighting the knowledge deficit is an uphill battle, but taking the money out of the mix would go a long way towards ending the CAGW folly.

    • I have been thinking all morning long about writing Dr. Chory, but I have not come up with the words that might actually reach her. This woman believes completely in what she is doing. She thinks she is saving the world, and a large portion of the world is telling her, in no uncertain terms, that she is. She is also suffering from a slow, debilitating disease and believes that the very meaning of her life depends on her rapid success in producing increased carbon sequestering plants. The world is depending on her. Her grandchildren are depending on her.

      How does one write an email and inform her that she is working on something that may very well lead to the end of all life on Earth during the next glaciation period? If that is too extreme, how does one even let her know that all her hard work will have no impact on the climate, because CO2 is not a significant driver of climate change? Will she listen to a stranger, with no recognized authority, telling her that her noble life’s work is meaningless at best and extraordinarily dangerous at worst?

      If I was in her shoes, would I listen to such a stranger? Probably not in a million years.

      There are many working on this project. That Guardian picked Dr. Chory for the article because she is a super-sweet Grandma with Parkinson’s Disease trying to save the world before her horrible fate catches up with her. The story is a master-stroke of propaganda. Dr, Chory is unassailable. One cannot point out the fallacy of the story without coming across to the public as a truly horrible person, attacking a sweet little old lady with a simple desire to ‘save’ the planet before she dies.

      Attacking Dr. Chory is exactly what the Guardian wants us to do. The Guardian is a tool of manipulation and I choose not to be manipulated by their machinations. It is horrible how they are using Dr. Chory to promote a false and despicable narrative, but typical for the CAGW myth builders.

      I wish Dr. Chory well with her battle with Parkinson’s.

  21. CO2 madness aside, these “super plants” will be a hard sell for farmers. Other than possible subsidies, what would be the advantages for them to try these? Supposedly, they will help the soil. M’kay, maybe they will. Will they be easier to grow, or harder, and what will their ultimate production be? Who knows?

    • when they released the fiddled green revolution short stemmed crops the outlay for farmers to buy new lower headers or adaptation of old ones at best was huge. and the animals lost out on hay and fodder, and the breeding means theyre at risk of UG99 infection as has occurred in eu america africa etc already
      Aus has biosecurity nightmares of it getting in here

  22. Climate Change Hypochondria.
    This is more like Climate Change Anorexia – take drastic and self-destructive action against an imaginary “illness”.

    • I wondered about that, too. But Ents were treeherds, guarding the forests.

      However, I do have a great idea: stop funding this kind of stuff, and tell her to do the first steps herself without any financing from outside. I know: she’s already got the funding, but it’s just a thought.

      Besides, nitrogen in the soil is as necessary to plant growth as CO2, so why isn’t she looking at that part of this business? Why not improve on nitrogen-fixing plants like alfalfa and soybeans? Just trying to ingratiate herself with the ecohippies and Warmunistas, maybe?

  23. This could be the start of a great horror movie.
    High minded people invent something to save the world; it ends up killing everything.
    Perhaps we could write it, imagining the steps toward doom, and we’d have to ignore any logic that tells us it won’t happen …. think Jurassic Park … I can see the plants wilting … people gasping for breath .. no plant food for people or cows …
    Movie producers (who may believe AGW alarmism) will nonetheless be overwhelmingly influenced by the idea of a great horror movie.

  24. Way to go, biologist, keep fighting that happy full of life warm interglacial period. But she obviously didn’t get the memo, the only thing that can save us is world socialism. I’m sure socialism will be the cure when the next ice age comes too.

  25. Regarding “Back in the depths of the last ice age, CO2 levels dropped so low the world almost ended.”: Not true. Back in the depths of Pleistocene ice age glaciations, dips of atmospheric CO2 went down as low as about 180 PPM. In a study of the effects of reduced CO2 on various plants, only the most CO2-needy one studied needed 150 PPM of CO2 to survive, grow and reproduce, and other C3 plants did so with CO2 as low as 60 PPM. C4 plants all survived, grew and reproduced with even lower CO2 levels down to 10 PPM.

    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/0e23/5047cba00479f9b2177e423e8d31db43229d.pdf

    • Granted it would not be the end of the world, but the impact would be significant and severe. Few C3 plants surviving and the biomass production of those that did survive reduced by 40%-70% would mean the collapse of our civilization. At the very least, mass starvation.
      More like the end of the world as we know it.

    • Donald,

      The 10 ppm number is somewhat contrived for C4 plants, as the experiment started with higher CO2 contratrations and allowed the plants to consume CO2 until it was reduced to 10 ppm. The problem with low CO2 is that biomass can not be productive enough to feed world. I’ll bet that even at the 260 ppm at the end of the LIA (which apparently the IPCC considers ‘optimum’), agricultural productivity would not be capable of keeping up with the worlds current demand for food.

  26. ‘This is the only climate technology which really frightens me.’

    Seconded – I’ve been saying for years, the only thing that scares me about climate change is what people will try to do about it – especially since they’ve been made desperate by claims about the end of the world.

  27. No doubt, especially since biology already sequesters CO2 at a faster rate than it can be replaced naturally. It’s a good thing that we are now replacing it. The unintended consequence of CO2 sequestration is the extinction of mankind during the next ice age, rather than one a little more distant in the future. Unless we start burning limestone in massive quantities, the destiny of life dependent on photosynthesis is to run out of CO2 and this will happen long before the Sun dies.

  28. Did I read this correctly? She wants to make GM plants that fix more carbon in the ground, right? So, she’s developing plants to make more coal…….

    • 85% of plant species live in symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus.

      The fungus have only one source of food. Carbon based liquid exudes from plant roots.

      So, the goal is to increase the availability of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus food.

  29. If they can find a cheaper alternative to chemical fertilizer that would be a boon to mankind.

  30. /sarc-on
    If the fear of a mega CO2 trapping Triffid plant goes rogue on planet earth, wouldn’t it eventually create an equilibrium? Once the CO2 levels drop below 150ppm, most plant life you die (long after us pesky humans). We just need to create an anti-Triffid plant that that kicks in massive O2 production at the 150ppm CO2 level.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    /sarc-off

    • For those unfamiliar with the Triffid reference (and previously noted above my post):

      https://youtu.be/FqrLqg3w6AU

      The full movie is actually on YouTube, I just linked the trailer here. I remember watching it on TV when I was a younger fella….

  31. I swear those funding this CO2-CAGW meme are out to kill us. Keep CO2 ridiculously low at “per-industrial” levels of 270 PPM then when the glaciation resumes and the oceans pull CO2 out we’ll get below 150 and that’s it for the majority of humans. Not them of course, they are too important.

    Every time I see some wacky idea like this or other geo-engineering like shades & CO2 harvesters I can’t shake the feeling that somebody wants us all dead.

  32. Brilliant idea, create plant strains that suck up all the CO2 from the atmosphere and propagate faster and farther than all natural varieties. That way you can reduce the CO2 level below photosynthesis shutdown and kill off all the plant life humanity depends on, thereby eliminating man’s Carbon Footprint by eliminating humanity. She’s a modern day Pandora.

  33. “I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says, letting out a laugh. “It is a lot of pressure.”

    It must be quite sobering to know that the fate of all mankind depends on you. The laugh is meant to throw you off from the fact that she is serious, in a self-important and very delusional way.

  34. It could be the CO2 black hole in a box. Fire it up and see what happens. The start the invasive species eradication funding program.

  35. So let me get this right: she will create a genetically modified plant (I thought that was eeeeevil??) that can go right on pulling CO2 from the atmosphere even in the depths of the next ice age, when CO2 will in any case come close to the point at which life on earth terminates. And this demon plant will be there continuing to suck out the CO2 while every other plant expires, shortly followed by all animals including us.

    Yeah, right. Deranged. But sadly we live in a deranged world where the powers that be will actually do it.

  36. “I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” she says,

    anyway in the mood for letting out a laugh.

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