The News at a Glance: Deep Sea Biodiversity, Japan’s Nuclear Power and the Ban on Gasoline Cars | Science

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CLIMATE POLICY

California to ban gas-only cars

Last week, California regulators issued the first US state ban on the sale of new gasoline-only passenger cars. By 2035, nearly all new cars sold in California must be fully electric or run on hydrogen fuel cells; 20% can be hybrid electric vehicles with batteries capable of traveling at least 80 kilometers. The measure is expected to halve greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs in California by 2040. The California Air Resources Board’s progressive mandate could bolster national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to greenhouse effect. Up to 40% of all US cars sold may comply with the California rule – if, as expected, some other states adopt the measure, which is stricter than the federal rules. But most states will struggle to meet California’s goals, transportation experts at the University of California, Davis wrote in an analysis. Today, about 15% of new cars sold in California are EVs, and most other states lag far behind in EV sales and installation of charging infrastructure. EU lawmakers voted this year to ban sales of new petrol cars from 2035, a move that requires member state approval.

BIODIVERSITY

High Seas Treaty Delayed

Nations failed to agree on a first-ever treaty to protect high seas biodiversity last week, after some countries balked at handing over control to a new international regulator. Negotiations had been underway for several years on the pact, which includes provisions on the establishment of marine protected areas, the regulation of the scientific collection of organisms, the improvement of the research capacity of developing countries and the requiring environmental impact assessments for new activities such as mining. The biggest sticking point was whether environmental impact assessments would be approved by the nations themselves or by a new international organization, says Alice Vadrot, a political scientist at the University of Vienna. Another thorny question is whether countries can be forced to make payments to a conventional organization so that their researchers can collect biological samples from the high seas. A new negotiation session is scheduled for January 2023.

EDITING

Gender Diversity Sparks Discovery

According to a study of 6.6 million articles published from 2000 to 2019 by 7.6 million medical researchers, mixed research teams produce more innovative and highly cited articles than teams composed entirely of men or women. women. Teams with six or more authors of multiple genders—as inferred by a name-matching algorithm—published papers 7% more innovative than similar-sized, single-gender teams, based on a analysis of new combinations of journals cited in the bibliography of each article. Papers from these teams were also 15% more likely to be in the top 5% of most-cited papers in a given year, according to the study published this week. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (by a mixed team). More work is needed to understand the reasons for the disparities, he says. The finding is consistent with previous studies that linked more racially and culturally diverse research teams to greater creativity.

It’s a far cry from a normal monsoon – it’s climate dystopia right on our doorstep.

  • Sherry Rehmann
  • Pakistan’s climate change minister told AFP about unprecedented flooding that killed more than 1,000 people, a likely impact of climate change despite the country’s low carbon footprint.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

COVID-19 shot spurs patent fight

Moderna, which has made billions from a COVID-19 vaccine based on messenger RNA technology, last week accused its chief rival of infringing the company’s patents for a similar mRNA injection. . Among the allegations in a lawsuit filed in a US court, Moderna claims that Pfizer and its partner BioNTech used its patented strategy of replacing a natural constituent of mRNA with a molecule made in the laboratory. But the University of Pennsylvania filed a US patent application for this same molecular substitution 6 years before Moderna – and filing priority is key in patent litigation. (Both patents have issued.) Pfizer and BioNTech say they will “vigorously defend themselves” against Moderna’s lawsuit.

ENERGY

Japan reconsiders nuclear power

The Japanese government will consider building new nuclear power plants while pushing to restart more idle reactors for safety checks after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced last week. The goal is to ensure energy security and reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are fifth in the world. Engineers have restarted 10 of the 54 nuclear reactors shut down after the Fukushima disaster. Twenty-one are in the process of being decommissioned and the others are still under review, a process Kishida hopes to accelerate. To replace nuclear power, Japanese utilities burned more coal and natural gas, undermining the country’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050. An economy ministry roadmap unveiled on July 29 suggests that new, next-generation light-water reactors could be commercialized by the mid-2030s. Kishida also pledged more support for renewable energy.

On point

photo of slippery tree frog eggs
A photo of eggs of the soaring tree frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) won the Life Close Up category this year BMC Ecology and Evolution picture contest. Brandon André Güell, a Ph.D. student at Boston University, photographed the eggs in Costa Rica. They usually hatch after 6 days of development but may do so prematurely to escape predators and desiccation. BRANDON ANDRE GUELL
THREE QS

Walensky eyes CDC reforms

Rochelle Walensky got into a hot mess when she took over as head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2021. The agency has struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19. It botched the development and distribution of COVID-19 tests, issued unclear guidelines on prevention efforts such as social distancing and vaccines, and required multiple levels of clearance before CDC researchers could publish. their results. Science spoke with Walensky, former chief infectious disease officer at Massachusetts General Hospital, about preliminary findings from two reviews she commissioned of the CDC’s COVID-19 response and its policies and processes. (A longer version of this interview is available at https://scim.ag/Walensky.)

Q: Are you trying to help the CDC come to terms with its mistakes?

A: I was always an avid consumer, a champion, and a cheerleader for CDC before I came here. The CDC people are amazing. The question, however, is whether the people themselves were responsible or whether many elements of the structure around them did not allow them to act as quickly as possible and did not allow them to set priorities. I think it’s a bit of both.

Q: What are you going to prioritize?

A: The customs clearance process at the CDC is too slow. How come we get our data faster? I’ve published enough articles to know that, as painful as the review process is, they usually come out better afterwards. So I don’t necessarily want to get rid of it. But CDC has changed. Last week we posted monkeypox data on our website, and the [associated] the paper is not out yet.

Q: Do you plan to lay off or reorganize staff?

A: We will realign staff incentives to encourage people to take actions that benefit public health. I have not lost sight that changing the boxes of a flowchart will not do anything by itself. We have not devoted enough time, energy and resources to our public health infrastructure, core staffing capabilities, data modernization and laboratory infrastructure. And that’s the investment that I think we really need to make.

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