The ordering of this investment theme after the environmental theme was intentional. While the first theme – geopolitics – plays a part, in my mind climate change will be the primary cause of defence-related spending going forward.
Some of this defence spending will be humanitarian in recognising the need for multi-national responses to increased climate catastrophes.
Unfortunately, much of it will occur through national security – i.e. insecurity – relating to increased pressures on national borders and sovereignties brought about from the severe impacts of climate change.
Any reader of my essay “Xenophobia Must be Challenged for an Effective Response to Climate Change Inclusive of Global Population Growth” would have read between the lines that, unless humanity is prepared to remember the lessons of history and become united to overcome this serious challenge to our way of life on Earth, then all of our futures are bleak.
While I am optimistic in humanity, current events suggest that divisive populism has the upper hand at present so defence budgets are going to be increased for this reason alone in the immediate to medium-term future.
Certainly human history is splattered with the blood of hordes manipulated by megalomaniacs that wanted to transform the world to their vision. But a far more serious threat to humanity is desperation, a loss of faith in global order, and a loss of hope in the future.
If a young student in Sweden feels so desperate and at risk of being disempowered by the mostly grey-bearded Caucasian world order, then just imagine how angry and desperate millions throughout the developing world will become once the reality of climate change becomes undeniable.
On the divided humanity course, those more fortunate ones who through the fortune of birth or earlier immigration live on an island of relative prosperity will seek to protect and defend that relative prosperity. That desire will only increase the more people become displaced from their homes due to climate change. Perhaps it is reasonable to assume that the openness of a sovereign’s border – through legal and illegal means – will be inversely proportional to the amount of resources spent on defence.
On the other hand, sovereignties worst affected by climate change, when faced with serious weakening or total loss, may consider that there is little to be lost in using whatever means it has left at its disposal to attempt to use force to acquire more resources to give themselves a chance at survival by increasing defence spending.
The relative-fortunates are also likely to face more turbulence within those islands of relative prosperity, whether at home or when travelling to other islands, originating from the increasingly desperate “unfortunates” which will require increased defence spending within national borders.
I cannot escape the conclusion that a divided humanity ensures a truly awful future for all of us, and even anti-immigration proponents will find difficulty in arguing that we have a genuine quality of life when we feel far less safe than we have for the last 70 years and our relative prosperity is maintained at the point of a gun and is relative to a widespread misery that has not been experienced in centuries, perhaps millenia.
United or divided, humanity will demand very significant defence-related spending for many decades.
Whether you wish to invest in this theme, that is a question for you.
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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2020
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