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When Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his country’s ambitious target to become carbon neutral before 2060, it came as a surprise even to many in China. It’s the country’s first long-term climate goal, and will require China to rein in CO2, and probably other greenhouse-gas emissions, to net zero. Several influential research groups that work closely with the government tell Naturehow China might get there via cleaner power, carbon-capture technologies and carbon offsetting.
The Chinese city of Jiaxing is offering Sinovac Biotech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine for about US$60 for two doses, as part of a national emergency inoculation programme. The city’s center for disease control and prevention said in a statement on WeChat that it would make the vaccine, called CoronaVac, available to the general public, prioritizing essential workers and other high-risk groups. The vaccine is in phase III trials in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey, and interim results are expected in late November.
A 37-metre-long figure of a cat has reappeared among the iconic geoglyphs known as the Nazca lines. The drawing, hidden from view on a steep slope, had almost faded into obscurity. “It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” said Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the lines. Isla says the cat predates the Nazca culture, which drew the larger figures that adorn the site.
Antarctica’s delicate and iconic ecosystem is in peril. Its western Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest-warming places on Earth. Most of the region’s glaciers are receding, and its sea ice is shrinking. Heavy fishing is depleting a key food source, krill. And visiting tourists and scientists have put the region’s precious biodiversity at risk. Over the next two weeks, a group of governments will discuss a proposal to make the Antarctic Peninsula a marine protected area, which would ban fishing in some places and set catch limits for krill for many decades. “We urge them to act now,” say Carolyn Hogg and her colleagues.
As if grizzly bears weren’t enough, COVID-19 added another challenge to the fieldwork planning of conservation scientists Christie Sampson and Steven Vamosi. They found ways to ramp up collaborations with other groups to help collect samples and make outings safe under pandemic restrictions. They share some guidelines they developed to help form the most useful alliances.
Scientists are finding innovative ways to save coral reefs from extinction. One group in Australia supports coral gardening, in which fragments of living coral from healthy parts of the reef are glued or clipped on to dead coral skeletons and artificial reef structures. They also use ‘coral IVF’ to fertilize collected eggs and sperm, and keep the resulting embryos away from predators until they grow into baby corals. Researchers are even kick-starting recovery with artificial reef noise by using underwater loudspeakers to play the sounds of a healthy reef and attract fish populations back to degraded areas. Others want to intervene further by selectively introducing heat-tolerant coral varieties to regenerate reefs facing profound global changes.
Let the Financial Times step you through the emergence of the new coronavirus, its cruel path through South Korea and Italy and its current footholds the the United States, South America, India and Europe. Along the way, animated graphics tell of the impacts of different interventions, the challenges of gathering solid data and the many paradoxes and open questions.
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With contributions by Smriti Mallapaty