Energy/Climate Resiliency

neosense word: n.  ability of infrastructure and energy systems to withstand the effects of climate change and disruptions to the energy supply, such as increasing air and water temperatures, rising sea levels, and severe weather.

Etymology:

Derivational Affixationthe-house-venn-diagram

Latin resili (ēns) (present participle of resilīre to spring back, rebound)  +

-ence (Latin -entia, meaning an existing or real thin, an entity)

General Denotation:

n. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.

History:

The ideas behind energy resiliency were first outlined in the 1960’s by C.S. Holling in relation to ecological systems and their abilities to deal with changes to their environments. As the issues of global warming and climate change have become more prominent since the early 1990s, the idea of climate and energy resilience have emerged, which consider the global implications of the impacts induced by climate change.

Sociolectal Information:

A word used by many large energy companies to emphasize re-building the infrastructure of cities and towns to make them more resilient to significant weather disasters and energy shortages, as well as less dependent on fossil fuels. Tactics include investing in alternative, “clean” energy systems which will provide more reliable energy sources  in case of energy disruptions and will provide a protective cushion against fluctuating prices of foreign fossil fuels. After Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012, state governments like the state of New Jersey have been turning to alternative energy solutions like solar and wind power and the restructuring of power grids to ensure resilience to the possible effects of disasters similar to Sandy. Previously, expensive investments involved with restructuring the power grid were looked at reluctantly by citizens, but after Super-storm Sandy, when many were left without power for weeks, the restructuring has started to be seen as a necessity, although many citizens still worry about the possible rise in cost and bills for electricity and gas.

Jumping on the train of the effects of Super-storm Sandy, energy/climate resiliency has become a buzzword in the energy sector. The International Energy Agency has outlined a plan for dealing with climate change’s effect on our energy systems and energy security as it alters energy demand and disrupts energy supply. It involves helping the energy sector develop resilience through technological solutions, flexible management, and preventive emergency preparedness and response. Many large energy companies have jumped on the train of resilient cities, and have shifted their focus to building more energy efficient buildings and infrastructure. The Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis has created the Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, which aims to identify climate vulnerabilities, pursue resilience strategies, and share experiences. Partners include huge power companies like Dominion Virginia Power Dominion, Pacific Gas and Electric, and New York Power Authority. Energy/climate resiliency has become an important part of the conversation between scientific institutions, policymakers, governments, and international organizations in order to design solutions for addressing the effects of global warming. Many environmental organizations have adopted the term as a platform for campaigns for clean energy legislation.

Connotations:

Energy Resiliency reflects the growing paranoia of the U.S. population about both its dependence on foreign sources of energy (like oil from the middle East) and the increasing amount of presence the serious effects of climate change have in new media today. While previously many people who may not have supported the ideas of climate change may have found the goals of energy resiliency to be unnecessary, recent weather disasters like Hurricane Sandy have changed some people’s opinions. However, many remain skeptical that the expensive, detailed goals of energy resiliency are really worth the effort.

Survival Predictions:

I think that this word will continue to be used, especially as the world’s natural resources are slowly used up and energy conversations continue to be a huge concern. As energy companies alter their policies and advertise to their customers to appeal to the new concerns related to climate change, energy resiliency will become a standard term among members of the energy sector, though it may not carry easily over into everyday speech, especially since it is complicated and difficult to explain to people who are not familiar with energy operations and infrastructure.

However, I do think that energy resiliency has an interesting ability to become the parent of many other types of “resiliencies”. While doing my research, I discovered not only the two very similar terms of “climate resiliency” and “energy resiliency”, each with slightly different connotations, but also “community resiliency” and “resource resiliency”. The atmosphere of paranoia that seems to surround the family of words has the potential to produce a whole new family of words related to protecting the U.S. and its communities from all kinds of threats, from the stories of the disastrous possible effects of climate change to the stories of terrorist attacks that are all over the news. It will be interesting to see if the resiliency terms spread into other departments of the U.S. government and private sector, like the military or the Department of Agriculture.

Lexopinions:

As the effects of climate change become more noticeable, changes in our energy procedures are inevitable. I think that the concept of energy resiliency is a great step forward in finally acknowledging the effects that humans have had on the environment and as a result may also have on our society, and I hope that it will help new policies be created to deal with the energy deficit that we are sure to face someday.

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