What quotes from this text are exemplary or particularly evocative?


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Morgan Sarao's picture
August 11, 2021

Infrastructuring text:

"Moreover, as demonstrated by Feldman [18] when looking at the use of resources from an organizational perspective, as people’s practices change, so do the ways in which they use resources. To this effect, the use of resources, such as materials and information, is contextual, their meaning and use changes depending on the situation." → Ovens become heaters when people face routine disruptions after losing heat. NEC offices, where an individual may only go to for foodstamps or food pantries, or for other social services, may become an energy office to them when they are facing a shut off. 

"Given that the infrastructures that people draw on during prolonged disruptive life events can be damaged and/or serve as further sources of disruption and marginalization, we believe people can work around these issues is by relying on alternative infrastructures, repurposing existing infrastructures, or building new infrastructures, as a means for developing resilience."

Maintenance text:

"Rehabilitation efforts funded by the World Bank and IMF reflect a “tendency for neglected maintenance expenditures to be capitalized through ‘new build’ projects.” Maintenance is thus entangled with plans to open or protect access to markets or resources."

"All of the incentives for all the actors are against maintenance. Nobody ever named a maintenance project, nobody ever got recognized for a maintenance project, nobody ever much got blamed for deferring maintenance during the time while they were in office."

Slow Emergencies Text:

"The concept of slow emergencies points to those situations of harm and suffering that question what forms of life can and should be secured by Emergency governance. It helps translate un- or barely-bearable conditions inseparable from ordinariness into something demanding urgent action. A slow emergency is thus marked by the disjuncture between an emergency claim and the racializing assemblages (Weheliye 2014) that structure which subjects may claim a future in need of protection” → the experience of energy vulnerability as a slow emergency because the experience falls along lines of racial assemblages

"On the other hand, liberal order governs through emergency in the sense that claims to an emergency - sometimes strategic declarations that an emergency has happened, is happening or will happen - can justify actions that (re)order bodies and relations for pre-existing reasons"

“In a ‘state of emergency’ visible impacts and effects of power manifest in and through bodies, typically framed in terms of the production of ‘bare life’ (Agamben 1998). Research into racial violence following Hurricane Katrina (Braun and McCarthy 2005) and the 2010 Haiti earthquake (Mullings et al 2010), for instance, shows how action in a state of emergency draws on and reproduces black disaster victims as disposable lives (Giroux 2006) while pursuing a goal of sustaining the existing socioecological order.” → relates to COVID-19 emergency declarations, and how “essential worker” category reinforced the disposability of often low-income, health vulnerable bodies.

"More recently, geographers and other critical theorists have turned to concepts including ‘slow violence’ (Nixon 2011) and ‘slow death’ (Berlant 2011) to examine how racially and economically uneven processes of environment (in)justice fold harm, suffering, risk and premature death into the fabric of everyday life, particularly among poor and marginalized communities. Taken together, this and other research highlights that emergency is not only a dry juridical category, but signals a form of life structured through biopolitical techniques and mechanisms of racialization that delimit what lives can and should be exposed to banal forms of exceptional violence."

"Whether deforestation (Nixon 2011), or the cumulative wearing down of marginalized peoples by repeated ordinary acts of police violence (Fassin 2011), the forms of gradual change and indeterminate presence that characterize slow emergencies means that they sit uncomfortably with the genres that organize what is felt and attended to as an event and thus target of Emergency governance.” → deteriorating of homes in redlined neighborhoods in Philly is gradual, and has an indeterminate presence to external forces.

" situations become slow emergencies through projects by publics, artists and activists that attempt to make situations of attritional lethality into events that demand some form of urgent response. Emergency claims function, then, by opening up an ‘interval’ (Anderson 2015) in which action can make a difference, even as the risk remains that present harms and damages will continue or even intensify. Often, emergency claims or statements are rejected, ignored, or greeted with indifference precisely because of who makes them, how, and to whom. A slow emergency often involves, then, the non- or mis-recognition of a situation of emergent harm or damage, mediated through racialized techniques and procedures that produce that mis- or non-recognition"

"As emergencies are governed, the hope remains that the nonemergency everyday can be returned to. Ways of governing through emergencies are, then, founded upon the geo-historically specific distinction between the everyday and the emergency – a distinction that has only ever been available to some forms of life."




Morgan Sarao's picture
January 25, 2021

Adequate access to energy is encumbered by limited and faulty infrastructure, affordability challenges, and service disruptions due to disasters and extreme weather events, often linked to climate change. This phenomenon, known as energy insecurity, is defined as the “inability to adequately meet household energy needs”

"Inadequate household energy has been linked to the following health outcomes for both adults and children: cardiovascular, pulmonary, and respiratory illnesses; cancer; arthritis; acute hospitalization; excess mortality in summer and winter; and anxiety, depression, and stress (9, 13, 22, 25). Indirect health impacts, such as food insecurity, are also associated with energy insecurity (6, 26–30)."

"Interestingly, chronic energy insecurity can lead to a significant crisis point of acute energy insecurity, such as shut-offs due to non-payment. Shutoffs are an acute form of energy insecurity because, for the most part, they are short-lived, and services are reinstated upon cost recovery by the energy service provider."(I think this is interesting, I would just say that the shut-off is the crisis point of chronic energy insecurity)

"Fuel shortages across the world also indirectly impact health by increasing fuel cost and making sources unaffordable, leading to inaccessibility. "

"In other instances, the energy infrastructure has proven incapable of tolerating higher than normal demands. In many cities, gas companies ordered households and industry to lower their heat in order to prevent citywide gas shortages (33). This compromised capacity is related to reliance on an aging infrastructure and increased demand, which is likely to be an issue over time and as weather patterns become more extreme as a result of climate change." --> Fuel shortages and comprimised capacities are more likely and more extreme due to COVID-19 

"In the U.S., African Americans suffer more from energy insecurity than do any other racial groups (23, 60, 63). Of surveyed households with an African-American head of household (HOH) and children under the age of 18, 35% reported facing energy insecurity compared to 21% of Latino HOHs with children under 18 and 14% of Caucasian HOHs with children under 18 (60). Across all income levels, Black families still maintained the highest rates of energy insecurity." Useful to mention when we discuss our survey pool for the second round of surveys

"In the Global North, women are more likely to be caretakers and spend more time at home, increasing their rate of exposure to other energy inefficiencies. Single mothers are especially vulnerable because they take on financial and psychosocial burdens alongside the responsibility of being the sole caretaker" --> amplified during COVID-19

"Furthermore, institutional and systemic racism and place related social factors are drivers of higher rates of energy insecurity for minority populations. Ethnic minorities, immigrants, and indigenous groups are some examples of people who experience housing discrimination (57), a barrier to accessing more energy-efficient homes." --> mention redlining, age of housing stock in philly, when discussing our survey pool

"With food insecurity, the “heat or eat” dilemma occurs when households must decide whether to expend resources on proper nutrition or adequate energy services because they cannot access or afford both (28, 30, 118, 119). Often, this dilemma leads to undernutrition, especially during the winter and summer months when there are higher energy use needs when it has been found that low-income adults and children have decreased caloric intake compared to lower-energy use months in the spring or fall (28, 118)" → As household food expenses increase, this dilemma is likely amplified. However, utility moratoria which allows households to keep energy flowing in their homes, allows households to choose food expenses over heating/other energy expenses. When winter moratoria ends, and as it’s unknown whether households who haven’t been paying utility bills, or have been paying only a portion of their bills due to COVID-19 induced hardships, it may be the case that households will have to face this dilemma again. 

"Low-income families juggling financial hardships often prioritize other financial obligations such as paying for rent or groceries, seemingly more immediate needs, over paying off debt; this behavior can leave families in prolonged debt cycles (128)"--> this is the experience of some of our surveyees

"The result of such energy insecurity contributes to outcomes such as psychosocial stress and mental health issues, poor sleep, cardiovascular and respiratory issues, and heat stress, among others. These energy-related difficulties can also deplete people’s resilience reserves, such that affected populations are less able to bounce back from acute and chronic hardships."

 "Lacking sufficient knowledge and ability to navigate the bureaucracy of utility companies makes it difficult for less educated households to address and prevent energy insecurity. Knowing how to access resources such as financial subsidies or medical certifications to prevent shutoffs requires knowledge of how such bureaucratic systems work."

"Environmental stress and financial insecurity can lead to mental health issues and result in worse educational outcomes (53). The stress of energy hardship is associated with behavioral problems in children, whereby they are more likely to have low academic motivation, difficulty concentrating, and often act out (54, 55). Children experiencing energy insecurity and food insecurity (discussed in detail in subsequent sections) are also more likely to experience intensified behavioral issues such as depression, rule-breaking behavior, and somatic complaints (54). Asthmatic children in energy-insecure households with poor air quality miss more days of school due to illness than do non-asthmatic children (55, 56). Homes that use unsuitable energy sources expose children to toxic gasses that impair cognitive development. Additionally, children living in energy-insecure households often have trouble focusing on their homework due to noise pollution from generators, other loud energy sources, and open windows, which can lead to lower academic success." → These impacts are likely exacerbated for children during COVID-19, as they are schooling from home and spending more time in their energy insecure households. 



Alison Kenner's picture
January 5, 2021
“An energy literate person can be someone who knows the energy consumption of their domestic appliances, knows with what actions they can save energy in their home, knows how to make economic energy efficient decisions or knows about the relation between energy use and climate change.”
→ I feel like this last one, which some scholars might label “energy systems literacy” or van den Broek would include in ‘multifaceted energy literacy’ is too broad as it’s put here. Who doesn’t know, in other words, that greater energy use worsens climate change? I think maybe it should be “understands the connection between energy use at home and energy infrastructures  broadly”.
“The interaction with appliances is likely to vary greatly across individuals, which, in the absence of very detailed home-level monitoring, makes it impossible to assess if a participant is correct about their devices’ consumption on a monthly or annual basis.”
→ This quote comes from the conclusion section on device energy literacy and I think it speaks to just how difficult it is to show relationships between something like energy literacy and energy conservation in general, let alone through appliances. You really need to triangulate utility bills, appliances, behavior, and literacy. It’s complex. 
“Perhaps unsurprisingly, the more participants reported to use a certain household item, the more harmful they expected their behaviour to be compared to others (e.g. bathing or washing behaviours), while ownership of the appliance itself was unrelated to this perception.”
→ This goes along with findings that suggest that people overestimate energy consumption of things that are most visible to them rather than things that are backgrounded, like heat or A/C.
“Indicators of this type of energy literacy include householders awareness of the costs of their energy bill, or energy prices and the ability to conduct an investment analysis in which the costs of energy savings investments are compared against the future energy costs.”
→ but most people don’t have energy literacy at this scale.