Guns and butter

Written by Luke

Topics: Climate

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gunsbutter.gifAccording to a new Naomi Klein piece in the Nation, the “smart” money these days is on guns, not green. Private security companies, weapons makers, and disaster-response contractors can expect brisk business in the fast-arriving era of climate chaos.

Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. “I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant,” he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, “I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy.”

Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons.

According to Klein, the private war economy ramped up after September 11 is being re-geared to help the wealthy defend themselves from the angry, unwashed masses during the coming crisis. As she points out, it’s a much more reliable way of making money than actually trying to avert disaster in the first place:

Of course, there is still money to be made from going green; but there is much more green–at least in the short term–to be made from selling escape and protection. As Lloyd explains, “The failure rate of security businesses is much lower than clean-tech ones and, as important, the capital investment required to build a successful security business is also much lower.” In other words, solving real problems is hard, but turning a profit from those problems is easy.

In a way, the current administration’s refusal to engage with international efforts to curb global warming could be seen as yet another sweetheart deal for groups like Halliburton and Blackwater–they’re the ones who will benefit from destabilization resulting from climate change. There’s no shortage of perverse incentives, especially while governments allow polluters to externalize the true cost of their activity.

All this goes to show that we should be skeptical of claims that the markets, left to their own devices, will lift us out of this crisis. For many, it might be more profitable not to.

1 Comment For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. sparki says:

    Interestingly enough this article was so thought-provoking that Luke and I blogged on at the same time (great minds think alike).

    Anyway, Bush’s solution to global warming is to “let the market decide,” which sounds a lot like something a MBA working at Exxon or Chevron would say, while he’s giving massive subsidies to oil and coal companies. What is that? Some new conservative idealogy? Bet hedging?

    Until there is a drastic change in both political parties, until Wall Street takes leadership on the nature of their investments and until real solutions are devleoped, the “disaster capitalism” business will continue to boom.

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