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Energy: We need all hands on deck

A more interdisciplinary approach will advance our understanding of energy issues (see also B. K. Sovacool Nature 511, 529–530; 2014).

In considering how to improve energy efficiency using a particular technology, for example, an engineering-only analysis would seek to optimize technical efficiency, whereas an engineering–economic analysis would aim to make it more cost-effective. But an interdisciplinary analysis would take in wider considerations. For example, convenience to consumers and the attributes of organizations promoting the technology can affect adoption rates by a factor of ten when financial incentives are comparable (P. C. Stern Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 1, 41–48; 2014).

Psychologist Kurt Lewin remarked that “there is nothing so practical as a good theory” (Field Theory in Social Science Harper, 1951). I suggest that nothing advances theory better than tackling a practical problem by integrating different perspectives.

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Correspondence to Paul C. Stern.

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Stern, P. Energy: We need all hands on deck. Nature 513, 33 (2014).

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