Disaster Capitalism

Climate change isn't all downside for the largest U.S. companies. Many said they believe climate change can bolster demand for their products:

For one thing, more people will get sick. "As the climate changes, there will be expanded markets for products for tropical and weather related diseases including waterborne illness," wrote Merck & Co. The company didn't respond to a request for comment.

More disasters will make iPhones even more vital to people's lives, Apple predicted.

"As people begin to experience severe weather events with greater frequency, we expect an increasing need for confidence and preparedness in the arena of personal safety and the well-being of loved ones,'' the company wrote. Its mobile devices "can serve as a flashlight or a siren; they can provide first aid instructions; they can act as a radio; and they can be charged for many days via car batteries or even hand cranks.''

Living with climate change is also going to cost money, which some banks see as an opening. "Preparation for and response to climate-change induced natural disasters result in greater construction, conservation and other business activities," Wells Fargo and Co wrote, adding that it "has the opportunity to provide financing to support these efforts."

More disasters will mean increased sales for Home Depot, the company wrote. And as temperatures get higher, people are going to need more air conditioners. Home Depot predicted that its ceiling fans and other appliances will see "higher demand should temperatures increase over time."

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5 Responses:

  1. Aidan Gauland says:

    And I thought landfill capitalism was grim.

    The idea that disaster is going to lead to growth assumes that consumers will still have any money to spend. Maybe they're just banking on the wealthy.

    That bit from Apple is especially rich. I am reminded of the videogame industry, a high-speed, fishbowl view of the wider tech industry, and their unsustainable rate of growth: they must keep making more and more money every quarter, even though there is only a finite sized audience, and only a finite amount money to bleed from the customers' wallets. And this is supposed to continue when people are struggling even more to survive than they are now?

  2. japh says:

    This cartoon from a few years ago seems tailor-made for the story above...


    Reading this, it's hard not to feel like Ripley from the movie Aliens:
    "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away... ?!"


  3. thielges says:

    I cringe whenever someone gleefully points out that war is good for industry.

  4. Polyna says:

    And when the revolution comes, I guess they’ll be excited about expanded markets for rope they’re going to hang on.

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