The name game

To the ever-changing lexicon of green terminology, add the substitution of “resilience” for “sustainability.”

Not long ago, “global warming” was the phrase to use when discussing the changing, often detrimental effects of the weather and atmosphere on the planet. Now, that phrase is being phased out in many circles in favor of “climate change.” That’s because the effects of “global warming” aren’t always, well, warm. “Climate change” encompasses a wide range of possible temperature fluctuations that can still mean bad news for the planet.

Now, a similar linguistic shift appears underway with the term “sustainability.” No one can seem to agree upon what it means, and recently, there’s been a glut of articles on eco-minded websites debating its definition. That said, it tends to encompass leading and creating a lifestyle that can be maintained generation after generation. For some, however, such as local group Transition Reno, “sustainability” has too much of a barely-hanging-on connotation—of doing what needs to be done merely to sustain ourselves and survive. Instead, TR has been using “resilience” in their discussions of life after peak oil. “Resilience,” as Merriam-Webster tells us, means “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress” and “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Or, in three words, to bounce back.