‘The only organism that can curb climate change is us’ – Prof Jennifer McElwain, UCD

7 Apr 2015

Professor Jennifer McElwain

With climate change being one of the dominant issues facing our planet right now, Professor Jennifer McElwain is working with the UCD Earth Institute by looking to the past to talk about our climate future.

As part of her research, Prof McElwain is looking into the evolutionary responses of plants to long-term climatic and atmospheric change, which is considered one of the best ways of measuring how our planet’s climate has changed.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Prof McElwain said that plants are by far the most expansive example of carbon on the planet, making up 99pc of the Earth’s mass both on land and at sea, and so play a “disproportionately important role in Earth processes”.

Prof McElwain’s work within the UCD Earth Institute allows her to work with a number of other researchers from various backgrounds including climate modellers and hydrologist engineers.

However, in discussing the potential uses of plants to curb climate change for future generations, Prof McElwain said that the efforts we put into lessening the effects through plants will mean nothing given the rate at which we put carbon into the atmosphere.

“The only organism that can curb climate change is us, humans,” she said. “If we want to curb climate change we have to change our behaviour.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic