Saturday, December 01, 2007

Naomi Klein

Guns Beat Green: The Market Has Spoken

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.

This observation--coming from an executive trusted by such clients as Goldman Sachs and Marsh & McLennan--deserves particular attention in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali at the beginning of December. There, world environment ministers are supposed to come up with the global pact that will replace Kyoto.

The Bush Administration, still roadblocking firm caps on emissions, wants to let the market solve the crisis. "We're on the threshold of dramatic technological breakthroughs," Bush assured the world last January, adding, "We'll leave it to the market to decide the mix of fuels that most effectively and efficiently meet this goal."

The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place.

The market, however, appears to have other ideas about how to meet the challenges of an increasingly disaster-prone world. According to Lloyd, despite all the government incentives, the really big money is turning away from clean energy technologies and banking instead on gadgets promising to seal wealthy countries and individuals into high-tech fortresses. Key growth areas in venture capitalism are private security firms selling surveillance gear and privatized emergency response. Put simply, in the world of venture capitalism, there has been a race going on between greens on the one hand and guns and garrisons on the other--and the guns are winning.

According to Venture Business Research, in 2006 North American and European companies developing green technology and those focused on "homeland security" and weaponry were neck and neck in the contest for new investment: green tech received $3.5 billion, and so did the guns and garrisons sector. But this year garrisons have suddenly leapt ahead. The greens have received $4.2 billion, while the garrisons have nearly doubled their money, collecting $6 billion in new investment funds. And 2007 isn't over yet.

This trend has nothing to do with real supply and demand, since the demand for clean energy technology could not be higher. With oil reaching $100 a barrel, it is clear that we badly need green alternatives, both as consumers and as a species. The latest report from the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was characterized by Time magazine as "a final warning to humanity," while a new Oxfam report makes it clear that the recent wave of natural disasters is no fluke: over the past two decades, the number of extreme weather events has quadrupled. Conversely, 2007 has seen no major terrorist events in North America or Europe, there are hints of a US troop drawdown in Iraq and, despite the relentless propaganda, there is no imminent threat from Iran.

So why is "homeland security," not green energy, the hot new sector? Perhaps because there are two distinct business models that can respond to our climate and energy crisis. We can develop policies and technologies to get us off this disastrous course. Or we can develop policies and technologies to protect us from those we have enraged through resource wars and displaced through climate change, while simultaneously shielding ourselves from the worst of both war and weather. (The ultimate expression of this second option is Hummer's new TV ads: the gas-guzzler is seen carrying its cargo to safety in various disaster zones, followed by the slogan "HOPE: Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies." It's a bit like the Marlboro man doing grief counseling in a cancer ward.) In short, we can choose to fix, or we can choose to fortress. Environmental activists and scientists have been yelling for the fix. The homeland security sector, on the other hand, believes the future lies in fortresses.

Though 9/11 launched this new economy, many of the original counterterrorism technologies are being retrofitted as privatized emergency response during natural disasters--Blackwater pitching itself as the new Red Cross, firefighters working for insurance giants (see my last column, "Rapture Rescue 911"). By far the biggest market is the fortressing of Europe and North America--Halliburton's contract to build detention centers for an unspecified immigration influx, Boeing's "virtual" border fence, biometric ID cards. The primary target for these technologies is not terrorists but immigrants, an increasing number of whom have been displaced by extreme weather events like the recent floods in Tabasco, Mexico, or the cyclone in Bangladesh. As climate change creates more landlessness, the market in fortresses will increase dramatically.

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.

Bush wants to leave our climate crisis to the ingenuity of the market. Well, the market has spoken: it will not take us off this disastrous course. In fact, the smart money is betting that we will stay on it.

This column was first published in The Nation.


DEN said...

Someone better explain it to the war goomers. You cannot have war if you cannot breathe or eat. DUH!

Fix the climate first, war later.

(actually I do not advocate war in any way but am trying to prove a point)

DEN said...

Global warming took a detour here today 30's for low last nite BRRRRR!

Hot cocoa in the corner and holiday cheer on the side to warm everyone up.

Anonymous said...

Years ago prior to a trip to Australia, I became interested in the novels of Nevil Shute. One of his most famous, On the Beach, was an apocalyptic story that held out little hope for the world. (In fact, less than little...none.) According to some, this novel played a role in influencing U.S. public opinion/support towards an atmospheric test ban treaty. (His other novels were generally more optimistic.)

Anyhoo, in reading Naomi Klein's piece, I'm reminded of Shute's novels and the fact that he seemed to believe that private enterprise could be a well-spring for moral goodness. The difference is, Shute's optimism in his writings hadn't met the ruthlessness, greed, and corruption rampant in today's "modern" capitalism.

Come to think of it, maybe I'll take a second look at those novels, and see what I think today.

Anonymous said...

Den, snow on the ground this a.m. n B'ham. Not much. But definitely working up to it!

Happy December 1st!

Carey said...

Fascinating, Micki.

Marx saw it all. He's one of my big heros.

Carey said...

The Romantic poets of the early 1800's in England, they saw it, and described it as the looming demise of humanity.

I'm referring to the control techniques of capitalism on the populace--the oppression. "Disaster capitalism" fully complies with everything ominous that was predicted. By many philosphers, Marx was the best at it.

I just saw the interview with Keith too, Den. Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, there's two great Naomi's out there. My sister Winke and I were just talking about that.

Incidentally, I had gotten the two confused. Essentially they're both speaking of capitalism, but Wolf is going the route of the history of fascism. It's a little confusing.

David B. Benson said...

Break out the sugarbeet juice de-icer! Buy plenty of mufflers and wool sweaters!

For complex reasons I won't go into, everybody in the west and upper midwest, maybe also northeast, is in for a winter such has not been seen for decades!

But none of it goes down to the drought-striken southeast.

All of the above brought to us all courtesy of global warming...

Anonymous said...

China tells more U.S. vessels to keep out

This story didn't get much play during the Thanksgiving holiday...looks like it's time for bush to look into some souls again blah blah blah...

An editorial from the Taipei Times on the snub of the Kitty Hawk

Of course, this is from the perspective of the "renegade province" so there is that to consider....

A day of reckoning is always possible for the mighty US of A.

Anonymous said...

Sugarbeet de-icer?

I have to look that up. Never heard of it. But, it sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dr. B -- can the sugar beet de-icer be used solo -- or is it generally mixed with the salty crapola?

Beet juice used to deice roads

Published: Nov. 28, 2007 at 7:55 PM

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Road crews in Akron will use beet juice to remove ice and snow from the Ohio city's roadways this winter.

Akron Public Works Bureau Manager Paul Barnett said once the sugar is removed from the beets, the juice is mixed with calcium chloride and rock salt to create a very efficient deicer product, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported Wednesday.

"The beets also allow the salt and the calcium chloride to stick to the road better and last longer, allowing us to save money with fewer application over the course of winter," Barnett said.

Barnett has ordered 4,000 gallons of the mixture.

Last year alone, Akron officials spent nearly $4 million on snow and ice removal.

Barnett told WEWS-TV the mixture smells slightly like brewer's yeast when placed on roads and appears brown rather than red, the color most commonly associated with beets.

David B. Benson said...

Akron, Ohio, is the latest city to add sugar beet juice to the road de-icing mixture of salt and calcium chloride. Using it means that less calcium chloride (nasty stuff) is required. Encourage your city and county to do the same.

My weather prediction is only for the first six weeks of winter. FAIK, the rest of winter might be balmy and actually bring some rain to the parched southeast...

Anonymous said...

I also saw an article from WSDOT stating that Lewis County (Washington State) has been using beet juice since '04.

I would imagine that other counties use it, too.

I've never heard if Whatcom County does...

Anonymous said...

...looks like we were posting on top of each other.

David B. Benson said...

Micki --- It will work to some extent by itself. Try it on a sidewalk, for example. But it works better with the rock salt and (ugh) calcium chloride.

Anonymous said...


I figured that one out!

You know a lot.

David B. Benson said...

Fortunately the software serializes the posts so they don't actually overlay one another.

Anonymous said...

Accurate weather forecasting is becoming more and more difficult, so there is a new service available called Accu-Whether.

Their National Whether Correspondent's standard opening is: I fake it! FAIK, I don't know whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong about the weather. Climate change is changing everything, whether you like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Quite right.

And more scientific.

You state things in a much more seriously scientific mien that I do.

I'd flunk your class.

David B. Benson said...

Gocery store or hardware store bags of de-icer are usually a mixture of rock salt and calcium cholirde. If you can find products without the calcium chloride it will be better for your concrete sidewalks and driveways. Not to mention the greenry on the sides...

But even just the rock salt will tend, over time, to spall the concrete. So it might be interesting to see if sugarbeet juice was enough de-icing for your needs.

Anonymous said...

Oy! Deliver me.

Mike Huckabee Says God is Pushing His Poll Numbers Up

Submitted by mark karlin on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 1:31pm. EditorBlog

Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher,

December 1, 2007

We received a memo from Liberty "Falwell" University on November 30th, signed by Jonathan Falwell, son of the recently deceased Jerry -- and now overseer of the vast Liberty University/Moral Majority corporate empire.

According to Jonathan Falwell, presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee believes that it is God, not himself, who is behind his rise in the polls: "Mr. Huckabee also said that Divine providence was responsible for his recent surge in the polls in Iowa, as he noted that he is the candidate with much less capital firepower than his rivals."

Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee made his comments during a recent visit to the "hallowed" grounds of the Liberty University campus.

Huckabee mightily impressed "Falwell the Second" when he also "identified the 'fanatic religious zealotry' of Islamo-fascism as a 'real threat' that must be confronted to protect the American way of life."

Heck, if you replaced the phrase "Islamo-fascism" with "Christian fundamentalism" you would arrive at the same threat to American society!

Mr. "Falwell the Second's" e-mail about Mr. Huckabee's visit is posted on the appropriately named website for your perusal.

But, we would like to note that the former Arkansas Governor and Baptist minister so moved Jonathan Falwell that the son of Jerry proclaimed: "I love this nation. And I want to do my part to share Christ with as many people as possible. This truly is the only way we will see America return to its full greatness."

So, the Constitution and democracy have nothing to do with making America great; it is all due to the missionary work and imposition of personal beliefs on this nation by intolerant and extremist fundamentalists.

If Jonathan Falwell is correct, then why even have an election?

Can't we just leave it to Jesus and God to sort it out?


David B. Benson said...

To finish the prior topic, maybe you don't actually need de-icer. Traction sand might be a better choice, being actually good for the ground and I would suppose less expensive.

Notice I said traction sand. This is quite a bit less expensive than concrete-grade sand.

Anonymous said...

Had a discussion with an old friend who told me to go back to god. *eye roll*

I sent her the Huckabee article complete with bright pink stress fonts on appropriate sentences.


David B. Benson said...

Footprints seen around Mt. Everest stoke Yeti mystery

Space aliens?

Or just an animal track misshapen by wind and sun...

David B. Benson said...

IHT: Ending famine, simply by ignoring the experts

Why we don't need nor want the World Bank...

carey said...

I've been curious what climate change would do to the weather business and the art of prediction. Yowza!

Explosion of confusion, like everything else will be.

Carey said...


I sent her the Huckabee article complete with bright pink stress fonts on appropriate sentences.

You didn't!


Anonymous said...

There once was a beast from Kathmandu,
Whether he was real, we don't have a clue,
Known as a yeti,
The myths quite heady,
He's only a legend 'til he appears at the Zoo!

Carey said...

I'd rather not meet him.

Anonymous said...

Hucksterbee just might win the GOPer nomination.

After the media stop yammering about Sthupgate and concentrate on Julie Annie's REAL negatives, he'll be toast.

Anonymous said...

There once was a beast from Kathmandu,
Whether he was real, we don't have a clue,
Known as a yeti,
The myths quite heady,
Carey will visit him if he's Winnie-the-Pooh!

Anonymous said...


In 1997, Huckabee claimed that Jesus would have agreed with him on supporting the death penalty. Shortly before a triple execution in Arkansas in Jan. 1997, a caller called into Huckabee’s show on Arkansas Educational Television Network and asking how he squared his Christian teachings with his support for the death penalty. As the Arkansas Times reported on Jan. 22, 1997:

“Interestingly enough,” Huckabee allowed, “if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, ‘This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency’.”

carol said...

My friend's daughter, who is Jill's age, died of a drug overdose two years ago. My friend said she wouldn't have got thru it without god's help. I asked her how he helped her. What did he do for ya?

No real answer. Just her belief in him helped. I guess. Bunch of crap if you ask me. Her god should have saved Kelly.

carol said...

I noticed over on Corn that Capt is taking over once again with his constant article posting. Ugh.

I suppose I'm the only one that can't stand it. I know, I know, I have a scroll wheel WHICH I use. I'm merely pointing an annoyance out.

DEN said...

Carol, I agree.

Interneters Annonymouse (IA) could help that problem.

Posting more and enjoying it less?
Join Interneters Annonymouse (IA) and free yourself from the addiction!

carol said...

Capt just can't help himself. He was good at the very beginning when Corn started back up, but he's starting to lose control again.

DEN said...

And being a control freak....

DEN said...

Nice and peaceful over here at DWF, no BS given and none taken.

DEN said...

Time for a shot.

Anonymous said...

So, I took a quick look at Corn's current post:

Okay, the serial posting of articles is de rigueur for a certain poster, but LBH (and Happy, who are one and the same) is very annoying to me.

That's why there are 57 varities of ice cream or ketchup or canned soup or whatever....

Carol said...

I'm having a beer. There's weather going on out there. I can hear ice crystals hitting the window. Ugh.

Looks like they redesigned the part below. Now it says "Nickname". I don't know why I didn't try that first instead of just using anonymous. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Time for a shot.

Speaking of shots, Den, I enjoyed the hot cocoa you set out today. Helped myself, liberally. Really warmed me up here in B'ham with our SNOW! Which is still falling!

Carol said...

The weird weather screwed up my leaf mulching. My big mulberry didn't drop it's leaves until the day after Thanksgiving. Now I have a deep carpet that has been encrusted with snow. More stuff coating it tonight. I'm definitely screwed on the mulching job.

DEN said...

Micki, Glad you enjoyed the condiments, it seemed like a cocoa kinda day, maybe tomorrow too.

Snow all over west to east, might have to fire up the snow shovel eh?

Not here yet tho. Still ride my bike to work.

Carol, Three beers gone here and tossing in the brandy for effect.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed the condiments

Condiments? Did I miss the marshmallows?

Gawd. I don't even want to know what those are made of!

Anonymous said...

I need some beet juice!


DEN said...

If I had some I would send it to you,
yea really.

Nothing left 'xcept stale popcorn.

DEN said...

Stay warm my friends and have a good night.

carol said...

I just finished a second beer and I'm done for the night. Going to eat my salad and fall asleep in front of a movie.

Goodnight everyone. :)