There’s a disturbing snippet in Naomi Klein’s latest book, No Is Not Enough, discussing the growing market for disaster-preparation amongst well-heeled elites. While it’s possible there’s a large element of conspicuous consumption at work here, amongst people who have more disposable income than things they can buy with it, it nonetheless makes for disturbing reading. From loc 177-178:
These days, luxury real estate developments in New York have begun marketing exclusive private disaster amenities to would-be residents—everything from emergency lighting to private water pumps and generators to thirteen-foot floodgates. One Manhattan condominium boasts of its watertight utility rooms sealed “submarine-style,” in case another Superstorm Sandy hits the coast. Trump’s golf courses are trying to prepare too. In Ireland, Trump International Golf Links and Hotel applied to build a two-mile-long, thirteen-foot wall to protect the coastal property from rising seas and increasingly dangerous storms. Evan Osnos recently reported in the New Yorker that, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there—the ultimate Green Zone. At the ultra-extreme end of this trend is PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel, a major Trump donor and member of his transition team. Thiel underwrote an initiative called the Seasteading Institute, cofounded by Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton) in 2008. The goal of Seasteading is for wealthy people to eventually secede into fully independent nation-states, floating in the open ocean—protected from sea-level rise and fully self-sufficient. Anybody who doesn’t like being taxed or regulated will simply be able to, as the movement’s manifesto states, “vote with your boat.” Thiel recently has appeared to lose interest in the project, saying that the logistics of building floating nation-states were “not quite feasible,” but it continues.