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NATURE BRIEFING

Daily briefing: Three steps to fix the broken food system

Agriculture, climate and health are entwined. Plus: children can change parents’ minds on climate change, and the must-see science images of the month.

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A hydrothermal vent field featuring numerous volcanic flanges

Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute

Must-see science images of the month

Researchers came across the mineral towers pictured above while exploring hydrothermal vents in the Gulf of California. The towers, up to 23 metres tall, had outcroppings known as flanges, pictured here, that have super-heated liquids flowing across their undersides. Despite the high levels of metals and sulfides present, the sites are teeming with life. See more of the most spectacular images of the month, as selected by Nature’s photo team.

Nature | A delightful scroll

Kids change parents’ minds on climate change

Children who learn about the impacts of climate change in school can influence their climate-sceptic parents. Pre-teen students who were taught a climate-change curriculum specifically designed to promote intergenerational learning fostered more climate-change concern among their parents than a control group did — with conservative dads changing their minds the most. Kids might be able to leapfrog the political baggage that clouds the issue because of the trust they share with their parents, says lead author Danielle Lawson.

Scientific American | 5 min read

Reference: Nature Climate Change paper

Navajo Nation to share data with the NIH

In a first for a tribe and a nationwide research consortium in the United States, the Navajo Nation has agreed to share some health data with a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. The Nation will give access to some data from the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, which follows the children of about 1,600 Navajo parents, to researchers working on the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) project — a 7-year initiative launched in 2016 to track the long-term health of 50,000 children. Historical injustices — and more-recent conflicts — have led Indigenous communities to guard their health information closely, and the arrangement does not cover genetic data or access to biological samples.

Nature | 2 min read

New hunt begins for origins of cosmic rays

The first phase of China’s Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO) has started its search for the sources of mysterious ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays that shower Earth from outside the Solar System. Set more than 4 kilometres above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau, LHAASO will track high-energy γ-rays. γ-rays are easier to trace than cosmic rays, and researchers suspect that they might come from the same astrophysical source.

Nature | 3 min read

FEATURES & OPINION

Three steps to fix the broken food system

Agriculture destroys forests and biodiversity, squanders water and releases one-quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions, say sustainability researchers Guido Schmidt-Traub, Michael Obersteiner and Aline Mosnier. Yet one-third of food is wasted, 800 million people remain undernourished, 2 billion are deficient in micronutrients, and obesity is on the rise. Governments and researchers need to develop integrated strategies for managing land-use and food systems together, they argue.

Nature | 9 min read

Source: FABLE Pathways Consortium

How to leap visa hurdles

Scientists must be prepared for delays to start dates, unexpected fees — and even visa refusals — when moving abroad for career opportunities. Five researchers who have hit visa hurdles share how their careers were shaped by shifting immigration policies, and offer their top tips for international scientists.

Nature | 13 min read

The amniotic stem-cell snake oil industry

A booming amniotic-stem-cell industry in the United States offers remedies for countless ailments from asthma to arthritis. But the business is largely unregulated and there is little scientific justification for most of the touted treatments, reports The New Yorker and ProPublica. Meanwhile, the stem cells themselves — often confused with powerful embryonic stem cells — are donated by women soon after birth, who might not know the true destination of their samples and receive no compensation.

The New Yorker | 27 min read

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The people who were scanned here all have their PhDs. They’re all doing very well.”

Parents shouldn’t worry about his discovery that playing a lot of Pokémon creates a preferential Pokémon region in the brain, says neuroscientist (and childhood Pokémon expert) Jesse Gomez. (SYFYwire)

Reference: Nature Human Behaviour paper

I have a favourite brand of pen, but mathematicians are really upping the stakes by stockpiling the “cult math chalk” from defunct Japanese company Hagoromo. Tell me your favourite mark-making implement — or any other feedback — at briefing@nature.com.

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

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