Some rich Americans want to be taxed more, global warming means energy demand could surge, the role both brain power and gut bacteria play in obesity. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities…

Global energy use could spike

Energy use could spike by as much as 58% worldwide by 2050 as households and businesses try to cope with global warming, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Rising temperatures are expected to increase demand for air conditioning, meaning the agriculture sector will need more irrigation during crop-growing seasons, it said. The study’s author, quoted in Science Daily, said this would disproportionally affect lower-income families, who may  face unreliable electricity supplies and would need to spend a larger share of their income on energy.

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 African weather extremes to worsen

 Extreme weather in Africa is expected to get more severe, with more bouts of drought as well as increased flooding, scientists have warned. The Guardian reports that new research into global warming predicts longer droughts causing disruption to crop production, alongside changing rainfall patterns which could cause disastrous flooding.

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 Rich call for higher taxes

Most people complain they pay too much tax – but not this group of 20 rich Americans who have asked US presidential candidates to tax them more. In an open letter published on Medium, the group, including investor George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, say that “America has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility” to tax the super-wealthy more – to help address the climate crisis as well as improve health care and boost the economy.

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Brain power linked to obesity

 It’s not just diet and exercise that affects weight – how much you (or your kids) use their brains could also be a factor. A new US study on childhood obesity proposed that nearly half the body’s energy is used by the brain during early childhood, Newsweek reports. Experts believe that childhood development programmes that require a lot of brain power could potentially help prevent obesity.

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Exercise: a gut feeling?

Microbes in the gut may help athletes compete better, increasing their capacity for exercise, a new study found. New Scientist reports that the bacteria was then tested in mice, allowing them to run longer – leading scientists to suggest that a probiotic supplement could be created that will help people do more exercise and protect against diseases such as diabetes.

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