By Adam Popescu
If this were a film about humanity’s last hope before climate change wiped us out, Hollywood would be accused of flagrant typecasting. That’s because Dr Joanne Chory is too perfect for the role to be believable.
The esteemed scientist – who has long banged the climate drum and now leads a project that could lower the Earth’s temperature – is perhaps the world’s leading botanist and is on the cusp of something so big that it could truly change our planet.
She’s also a woman in her 60s who is fighting a disease sapping her very life. In 2004, Chory was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which makes the timetable for success all the more tenuous.
“We’re trying to do something that’s a huge, complicated thing even though it sounds so simple,” Chory says. “Plants evolved to suck up CO2 and they’re really good at it. And they concentrate it, which no machine can do, and they make it into useful materials, like sugar. They suck up all the CO2, they fix it, then it goes back up into the atmosphere.”
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