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Daily briefing: ‘Zero COVID’ regions seek a path forward

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Kern County Fire Captain Bruce Wells uses a hose during the French Fire in California

Devastating California wildfires are among the repercussions of climate change.Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty

No major economy on track for Paris goals

None of the world’s major economies, including those in the G20 group, have a sufficient plan to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. The policy-analyst group Climate Action Tracker looked at the policies of 36 countries, plus the European Union, that are responsible for 80% of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Only the Gambia’s climate action is compatible with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ℃. Seven countries’ policies were almost good enough, including the United Kingdom. Russia and Singapore are among the nations whose policies were judged to be badly insufficient.

CNN | 6 min read

Reference: Climate Action Tracker report

‘Zero COVID’ regions look to the future

Parts of the world that have stuck to elimination strategies for COVID-19, such as China, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia, are considering how they might live with the virus in the long term. Australia announced on 6 August that it will abandon the elimination strategy once most of its population is vaccinated. New Zealand is sticking with its strict approach. These places are grappling with how vaccination will change the equation — and how to balance the desire for more openness with an expected rise in severe illness and deaths.

Science | 6 min read

For Nature subscribers

Part of the upper jaw from Microsyops latidens

A fossilized jaw (computer reconstruction) of Microsyops latidens has cavities — seen as oval depressions — in the teeth second and third from the bottom.Credit: Keegan Selig

Research highlights: 1-minute reads

Research highlights are available to readers with subscriber access to Nature. Click here for help getting logged in with your institution’s subscription.

Home working brings longer hours, fewer phone callsData on more than 60,000 workers at Microsoft show that remote working led to more ‘siloed’ work groups and the sending of more e-mails.#

Quantum gas free-falls its way to a low-temperature recordA cloud of rubidium atoms is said to have achieved the coldest temperature yet after being dropped from the top of a tower.Early Americans’ huge earthworks show off their engineering mightAnalysis of mysterious earth mounds reveals their rapid construction and sophisticated composition.Polar bears are inbreeding as their icy home disintegratesWith climate change fracturing northern ice, the bears have begun to lose genetic diversity.

Get more of Nature’s research highlights: short picks from the scientific literature (For Nature subscribers)

Features & opinion

Merkel: farewell to the scientist-politician

Politics will be poorer without Angela Merkel’s scientific approach, argues a Nature editorial. The departing German chancellor’s support for science and rigour in policymaking has proved transformative — except on climate change.

Nature | 5 min read

Reproducibility is more than a good paper

As part of the Brazilian Reproducibility Initiative, neuroscientists Olavo Amaral and Kleber Neves coordinated a huge effort to replicate 60 experiments from 2 decades of Brazilian publications. They’re still working on it, but they have already reached conclusions that apply beyond Brazilian science. Part of the problem: the requirement for wide-ranging experiments in a single article. “Instead of asking every author to conduct a decade’s worth of confirmatory experiments,” they argue, “the scientific enterprise might be better served by other mechanisms to establish the validity of a claim — perhaps beyond the scope of a paper.”

Nature | 10 min read

‘Biology has ideas worth talking about’

“We are drowning in a sea of data and starving for knowledge,” said biologist Sydney Brenner in his Nobel prize lecture in 2002. The problem is only getting worse, argues geneticist Paul Nurse, a fellow Nobel laureate and the director of the Francis Crick Institute in London. “It is as if speculation about what the data might mean and the discussion of ideas are not quite ‘proper’,” Nurse writes. He argues that more openness to reasonable new ideas and interpretations will advance research and inspire up-and-coming scientists.

Nature | 5 min read

Image of the week

Giant panda holding her twin newborn babies.

Credit: Eric Baccega/Nature Picture Library

Quote of the day

“We want something that is functionally equivalent to the mammoth, that will enjoy its time at –40 °C, and do all the things that elephants and mammoths do, in particular knocking down trees.”

Geneticist George Church has kicked off a US$15-million project to nurture a herd of elephant–mammoth hybrids in artificial wombs and release them onto the Arctic tundra to help maintain the permafrost. (The Guardian | 6 min read)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-02534-2

Best of luck to geoscientist and science communicator Sian Proctor, and the rest of the all-amateur-astronaut crew of Inspiration4, who are poised to launch into Earth orbit today.

This newsletter is always evolving — tell us what you think! Please send your feedback to briefing@nature.com.

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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