Resilience is the new “sustainability”. Once sustainability had been co-opted to mean keeping things the way they are, by sustaining our existing lifestyle, a new term was needed. Resilience has a number of meanings, but it is starting to mean the ability to weather our coming energy decline and inexorable decline of industrial civilization. Achieving resilience includes conservation of resources – doing more with less – but comes at a cost of reduced efficiency. Globalized “Just-in-time” manufacturing is cost efficient but not at all resilient, as demonstrated with the tsunami in Japan.

Jevons Paradox, where increases in total energy occur despite improved efficiency, occurs in a business-as-usual situation with increasing resource supplies. But as finite resources deplete we will be forced into consuming less in total amount, with increased resilience by switching fuels where possible in order to meet needs and demands. And increased resilience means for decreased efficiency, so Jevons Paradox won’t generally apply in a post-peak world.

By all means, increase efficiency where there is obvious waste, and don’t worry about Jevons Paradox. Efficiency is immediate conservation, and it buys us all much needed time to prepare for using less in total.