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Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warmingby McKenzie Funk
Synopses & Reviews
A fascinating investigation into how people around the globe are cashing in on a warming world
McKenzie Funk has spent the last six years reporting around the world on how we are preparing for a warmer planet. Funk shows us that the best way to understand the catastrophe of global warming is to see it through the eyes of those who see it most clearly—as a market opportunity.
Global warmings physical impacts can be separated into three broad categories: melt, drought, and deluge. Funk travels to two dozen countries to profile entrepreneurial people who see in each of these forces a potential windfall.
The melt is a boon for newly arable, mineral-rich regions of the Arctic, such as Greenland—and for the surprising kings of the manmade snow trade, the Israelis. The process of desalination, vital to Israels survival, can produce a snowlike by-product that alpine countries use to prolong their ski season.
Drought creates opportunities for private firefighters working for insurance companies in California as well as for fund managers backing south Sudanese warlords who control local farmland. As droughts raise food prices globally, there is no more precious asset.
The deluge—the rising seas, surging rivers, and superstorms that will threaten island nations and coastal cities—has been our most distant concern, but after Hurricane Sandy and failure after failure to cut global carbon emissions, it is not so distant. For Dutch architects designing floating cities and American scientists patenting hurricane defenses, the race is on. For low-lying countries like Bangladesh, the coming deluge presents an existential threat.
Funk visits the front lines of the melt, the drought, and the deluge to make a human accounting of the booming business of global warming. By letting climate change continue unchecked, we are choosing to adapt to a warming world. Containing the resulting surge will be big business; some will benefit, but much of the planet will suffer. McKenzie Funk has investigated both sides, and what he has found will shock us all.
To understand how the world is preparing to warm, Windfall follows the money.
"For most of the planet, the specter of global warming is ominous, but as journalist Funk reveals in this startling book, there are those who view the Earth's dangerous meltdown as a golden opportunity. Funk, who for traveled six years studying climate change, saw beyond the ecological disaster, profiling individuals and companies with an ambitious goal of turning a profit from a distressed planet — one overwhelmed by carbon emissions at higher concentrations than at any time in the last 800,000 years. In alarming terms, he lists three major categories of global warming that need very little explanation — the melt, the drought, and the deluge — all of which have nations and citizens jockeying for position to cash in on the world's dwindling resources. Everybody is in the mix, according to Funk, from the Greenland secessionists betting on oil to set them free, Israeli wizards creating snows for barren ski slopes, South Sudanese warlords controlling precious farmland in a deal with fund managers, California firefighters teaming with insurance companies as the last barrier against wildfires, and a Dutch engineering firm's water-management ideas for securing a storm-ravaged New York City. Still, Funk's original, forthright take on the little-discussed profit-taking trend in the climate change sweepstakes is very unsettling." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
McKenzie Funk is a journalist whose work has appeared in Harpers, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, GQ, Outside, and The New York Times. A National Magazine Award and Livingston Award finalist and the winner of the Oakes Prize for Environmental Journalism, he was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he studied economics and systems thinking. He lives in Seattle with his wife and son.
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