Daily briefing: Countries step up to cover US withdrawal from Green Climate Fund

UN fund attracts record pledges for climate adaptation, Indigenous communities will share the benefits of rooibos tea and 10 of the most influential Nature papers of all time.

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A farm worker in the Rooibos tea Skimmelberg farm grades and treats Rooibos Tea leaves

The rooibos agreement is the first industry-wide 'benefit-sharing' agreement following the 2010 Nagoya Protocol of the UN biodiversity convention. Credit: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty

Indigenous groups will reap rooibos profits

The San and Khoi peoples of southern Africa — along with low-income farming communities — are to share in the profits of the lucrative rooibos tea that is farmed on their traditional lands. The South African government’s decision is the first industry-wide agreement under the Nagoya Protocol of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, an international law that sets the rules for compensating communities if their knowledge of biodiversity is used by businesses or scientists. The government’s decision broke a decade-long deadlock in which the tea industry and Indigenous representatives disagreed over whether the San and Khoi people originated the use of rooibos as a beverage. The industry still isn’t convinced, but has agreed to pay.

Nature | 5 min read

Green Climate Fund attracts record pledges

Twenty-seven countries have pledged US$9.8 billion to replenish a United Nations’ fund for developing nations to adapt to climate change. The pledges exceed the $9.3 billion promised in 2014 — despite the absence of the United States and Australia this time. The United States committed more money than any other nation in 2014, but has since withdrawn $2 billion of the promised $3 billion, and has declined to contribute further.

Nature | 3 min read

California wildfires spark health research

As fires raged in the San Francisco Bay area of California, researchers running a trailblazing study of the health effects of smoke sprung into action. The research is one of the first to monitor wildfires’ effects in a diverse group of people over several years. Scientists hope to use the results to create evidence-based guidelines for mitigating risk and work out what interventions — such as air purifiers — can help.

Nature | 5 min read

Features & opinion

10 extraordinary Nature papers

A series of in-depth articles from specialists in the relevant fields assesses the importance and lasting impact of 10 key papers from Nature’s archive. Among them, the structure of DNA, the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, our first meeting with Australopithecus and this year’s Nobel-winning work detecting an exoplanet around a Sun-like star.

Nature | 10 lovely long reads

If you prick plants, do they not bleed?

Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard takes a measured look at the extent of plant communication, cognition and emotions. “When you go and whack off the top of a plant … is that an emotional response?” she asks. “It’s certainly trying to save itself. It upregulates. Its genes respond. It starts producing these chemicals. How is that different than us all of a sudden producing a whole bunch of norepinephrine?”

Nautilus | 12 min read

“It felt like God's cruel joke.”

“As an infectious disease epidemiologist, having my husband dying from a superbug was just a shock,” says Steffanie Strathdee. In 2015, Strathdee’s husband was near death from an infection of antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. Starting with a simple PubMed search, Strathdee brought together a “global village” of phage experts to save his life.

BBC | 13 min read

Go deeper into the state of phage therapy and this case in Nature Biotechnology (from May, 19 min read)

Insights from young scientists

For Nature’s 150th anniversary, we asked readers aged between 18 and 25 to tell us, in no more than 1,000 words, what scientific advance they would most like to see in their lifetimes, and why it mattered to them.

The winner is psychology PhD student Yasmin Ali, whose compelling essay is about Beethoven, her twin brother’s hearing loss and the science she hopes will one day cure it. It stood out to the judges as a reminder of why many scientists do research: to make the world better tomorrow than it is today. (5 min read)

Physicist Robert Schittko was a runner-up for his proposal that nuclear fusion could offer a solution to the climate crisis, in a piece that effortlessly mixes grand ambition with gentle humour. (5 min read)

And chemist Matthew Zajac was also a runner-up for his powerful personal account of why he wants to see advances in the field of same-sex reproduction. (4 min read)

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Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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