CRISPR baby scientist released from prison

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IPCC climate assessment report

One success story in the battle against climate change is that renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, have dropped significantly in cost over the past decade.Vincenzo Izzo / LightRocket via Getty

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes it clear that the window to avert the most destructive and irreversible effects of climate change is rapidly closing. It is the third of three IPCC reports that assess the scientific basis of climate change, how bad it is and how to fix it. The report finds that:

• Governments are acting too slowly, held back by the lobbying efforts of fossil-fuel companies.

• Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Wealthy countries must lend a helping hand to the countries that contributed least to the problem but face the worst impacts.

The good news:

• We have the renewable-energy technologies we need to make the change – and they are getting cheaper.

• It is possible to pull carbon pollution out of the atmosphere by expanding forests and improving agricultural practices.

• The economic benefits of limiting warming – including improved health and reduced damages – exceed the cost of mitigation.

Nature | 6 min read

Go deeper with a detailed exploration of the report and its findings by Carbon Brief (94 min read)

Reference: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Mitigation of Climate Change

Following today’s report, the IPCC will draw up one further synthesis document for decision-makers at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November. But the research community’s work stretches far beyond the IPCC. In January, a Nature editorial outlined how scientists of all stripes can offer up expertise and ensure that they have a voice in this monumental effort.

If you’re more the hands-on type, some researchers are joining groups such as Scientists for Extinction Rebellion. “As conservationists, we silently wish that members of the general public cared more about the destruction of nature,” conservationist Charlie Gardner told Nature in February. “Now they are taking to the streets and I have this moral obligation to be there in support.”

Nature | 6 min read & Nature | 5 min read

Read more: COP26 did not solve everything – but researchers must stay engaged (Nature | 5 min read, from November)

NOTABLE QUOTABLE

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program, summarizes the IPCC report’s urgent call to action. (Nature | 6 min read)

Public-health advocates are dismayed that Pfizer has denied a request by researchers to include its COVID-19 drug, Paxlovid, in a pivotal African clinical trial. The move hinders efforts to test the treatment in African populations and in combination with therapies that could potentially expand its utility on the continent. Pfizer says it can make up to 120 million courses of treatment by the end of the year, of which 4 million will go to the United Nations children’s charity UNICEF. “We’re focusing our efforts and resources in a way that maximizes the availability of our overall supply,” Pfizer said in a statement.

Nature | 6 min read

Two surveys suggest a dispiriting, if unsurprising, trend: COVID-19 researchers with higher profiles are more likely to be harassed. In March, Science reported that 38% of researchers who have published multiple papers on COVID-19 said they had experienced at least one type of harassment, such as personal insults or death threats, related to their work on the disease. The results have parallels with the findings of a Nature survey, published in October. In this survey, 81% of respondents said that they had experienced personal attacks or trolling – even if only rarely – after talking to the media about COVID-19. “You just get overwhelmed by the hate,” says epidemiologist Tara Smith.

Nature | 4 min read

He Jiankui has been released from prison in China. The biophysicist shocked the world in 2018 by announcing that he had used the CRISPR genome-editing technique to alter embryos that were implanted and led to the birth of two children. “It is extraordinary and unusual that [He Jiankui] and some of his colleagues were imprisoned for this experiment, ”says anthropologist Eben Kirksey, who has written about He’s controversial work. “At the same time many of [his] international collaborators – like Michael Deem and John Zhang – were never sanctioned or formally censored for involvement. ”

MIT Technology Review | 5 min read

Read more: How to protect the first ‘CRISPR babies’ (Nature | 6 min read, from February)

Features & opinion

Mathematical and computational models might be able to aid scientists in deciding the best dose for a future COVID-19 vaccine. The spectacular speed and effectiveness of the vaccines rolled out so far could have been even better if the amount given in each shot had been based on more than educated guesses, say advocates of the new technologies. Researchers typically use past experience and animal testing to find a sweet spot for vaccine doses that minimizes side effects and maximizes efficacy. Modeling that considers side effects, efficacy, the interval between doses and the type of immune response might be able to help.

Nature | 13 min read

Immune modeling: infographic that shows how mathematical models are used to optimize vaccine doses for humans

Source: Adapted from ref. 6

To avert privacy breaches, scams and environmental damage, governments and central banks need to know how best to regulate crypto and digital currencies, argue finance researchers Andrew Urquhart and Brian Lucey. They set out nine research priorities to address legality, scalability, usability and acceptability on this financial frontier.

Nature | 11 min read

The response to the needs of people fleeing Ukraine shows the way all refugees should be treated, argues political philosopher Serena Parekh: with dignity. “What was unthinkable two months ago – that Europe could feed, house and economically integrate a huge number of refugees quickly and with little animosity – has become a reality,” she writes. “The response – compassion, solidarity and bureaucratic efficiency – should serve as a model for how the world accommodates all refugees.”

Nature | 5 min read

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Europe can simultaneously end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels and meet its climate goals, argues a Nature editorial. (5 min read)

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