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December 7th, 2017 / San Diego Union-Tribune, US

The Salk Institute has enlisted a new ally in the effort to address the anticipated dangers of climate change — plants.

Scientists at the institute propose to breed plants to more efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequestering it in the ground for many decades. This could reduce global warming, expected if future temperatures rise as they have in the last several decades.

The “Harnessing Plants Initiative” officially kicks off Friday. Events include a discussion with Salk plant scientists moderated by Robert Redford, the actor and environmental activist. Redford has long been interested in the institute, and included it in a recent documentary, “Cathedrals of Culture.”

By using plants as biological carbon scrubbers, as much as half the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide could be trapped semi-permanently in the soil, said Joanne Chory, one of the plant scientists leading the program.

“If you want to fight climate change, you need a photosynthetic organism,” she said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get plants to keep carbon in the ground, sequester it.” Read more