Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The twin goals of decarbonizing energy while expanding global access warrant a new academic discipline to create a "common umbrella" for work scattered across multiple fields, a new Stanford-led paper argues.

Why it matters: The commentary published in the journal Joule is a recognition of the immensity and complexity of the challenges and the "considerable uncertainty about the best way to undertake them."

  • The researchers are trying to launch the unified field and have started planning a workshop on the topic.

The big picture: They propose a discipline called "macro-energy systems" that focuses on the "large-scale, systems-level, long-term aspects of sustainable energy planning."

  • "Co-analysis of economic, engineering, environmental, and social factors is often critical for answering societal-scale questions," the commentary states.
  • "As a result, this discipline combines methods from many fields spanning the natural, social, and engineering sciences."

What they found: The paper says pulling together this scattered work, much of which began decades ago, would have several benefits under the "macro energy systems" umbrella, such as avoiding redundant efforts and establishing accepted methodologies.

Go deeper

Mayors plan multifront attack on census shutdown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A growing number of mayors are banding together to fight what they consider to be an inaccurate and abruptly curtailed 2020 census, using an arsenal of legal, legislative and congressional efforts.

Why it matters: The outcome may determine whether President Trump or Joe Biden controls the redistricting process, which governs everything from congressional representation and redistricting to funding for schools and Head Start.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: Many U.S. deaths were avoidable — The pandemic is getting worse again.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board begins hearing appeals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Facebook Oversight Board announced Thursday that some Facebook and Instagram users can now submit appeals to the Oversight Board for an independent review of their own content removals.

Why it matters: The board, a first-of-its-kind internet governance body, will begin hearing cases from users ahead of the U.S. election.