🌍 All eyes on climate

Plus: Marvel has challengers in the wings
🌍 All eyes on climate

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

An imprisoned British-Egyptian activist began a water strike. Alaa Abdel Fattah is taking drastic measures to protest Egypt’s human rights abuses as the country hosts COP27 (more below).

China Evergrande said its creditors sold a plot of land in Hong Kong for $637 million. The struggling property development company expects to lose about $770 million on the transaction.

Thousands protested against South Korea’s government following the deadly Halloween crush in Itaewon. Demonstrators called for president Yoon Suk-yeol to step down as they seek justice for the more than 150 people killed.

The State Bank of India made more money than Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance in the second quarter. The country’s largest lender posted a profit that was higher than any other Indian company for the period.

A Precision Air plane crashed into Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. Bad weather likely led to the accident, which killed at least 19 of the 43 people onboard.

UK businesses marked another bank holiday in their calendars. Prime minister Rishi Sunak said Monday, May 8, 2023 will be set aside for the coronation of King Charles III.

What to watch for

Attendees photograph one another outside the main entrance of the COP27 conference. They're standing under a large arch made of white.
Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

The world’s top climate diplomats have gathered in Egypt’s luxury Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheik for the annual two-week Conference of Parties (COP27).

Striking a balance between economic needs and species’ survival remains the crux of the matter. This year’s host country—a major fossil fuel producer whose most fertile land is highly vulnerable to the threat of climate change—has promised to center the conversation on money.

Negotiations will focus as much on how to distribute committed climate finance as raising more commitments. The money issue is also one to consider for the corporate sector, where most companies that have set climate targets have actually no plan for how to reach them.

Sign up for our Need to Know: COP27 newsletter to follow everything from the 2022 UN climate conference in Egypt. Catch up with the first edition.

Marvel has challengers in the wings

Director duo the Russo brothers have claimed that no other film can beat the record of Avengers: Endgame, which raked in over a billion dollars on opening weekend in 2019. But DC Films and the Avatar franchise are looking to give the brothers a run for their money.

A bar chart shows the top 10 comic book movie box office openings in the US. Avengers: Endgame is number one with $357 million, followed by Spider-Man: No Way Home with $260 million.
Graphic: Adario Strange

The timing is right. MCU is in a bit of a transitional phase now that the Avengers storyline has come to a close, and this blip in Marvel’s cohesive narrative could be just what Warner Bros. Discovery and its slate of DC films need to find their big break.

Meanwhile, James Cameron has been cooking up four sequels to his 2009 moneymaker, Avatar. The re-release of the first film in September made $30 million on opening weekend—a sign that the people want to see more blue-faced aliens. The second film in the Pandora universe, Avatar: The Way of Water, hits theaters on Dec. 16, and may just avenge Endgame at the box office.

Our global famine warning system needs a glow up

In 1985, US agencies developed the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) to help world organizations and governments assess where food aid is needed the most.

But as climate change makes flooding events more frequent and intense, leaks are springing in the FEWS NET, which isn’t particularly good at determining how floods affect food supplies. Part of the problem is that flood events can both help and harm crops. Quartz reporter Clarisa Diaz looked at how floods are threatening African food supplies in particular, and why the world needs to recalibrate its famine warning compass.

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Surprising discoveries

Black holes can simultaneously be dead and alive. Think Schrödinger’s cat… just on a much larger scale.

But if you want to think about cats, scientists would love to hear your thoughts. Researchers at the University of California, Davis are trying to figure out how telemedicine can work for feline owners.

A 500-year-old tree got its due. A majestic yew that calls the ruins of a Cistercian monastery home was named tree of the year.

Kleenex told people to stop using its name wrong. You’re not grabbing a Kleenex to wipe your tears—you’re grabbing a Kleenex brand tissue.

China’s hottest woman is Tao Huabi. She’s the one making Lao Gan Ma crunchy chili sauce a global sensation.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Kleenex brand tissues, and the living version of Schrödinger’s cat to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, Adario Strange, and Morgan Haefner.