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 clearlyas 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 Greenlandand 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 delugethe rising seas, surging rivers, and superstorms that will threaten island nations and coastal citieshas 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.
The Wall Street Journal:
“In Windfall McKenzie Funk, an intrepid American journalist, reports on the lesser-known victims and profiteers of climate change brings a dizzyingly abstruse phenomenon down to a more human scale. Mr. Funk leads us away from the rarefied air of Al Gore and his lethal PowerPoint slides, to mingle with the militiamen, inventors, politicians and activists trying to find their way through an era of turmoil.”
The Associated Press:
“Funk has written a fun book humanizing the problems of climate change, focused on the colorful entrepreneurs who see in an increasingly inhospitable world golden opportunities.”
Kirkus Reviews (STARRED):
“A shocking account of how governments and corporations are confronting the crises caused by global warming… A well-written, useful global profile emphasizing concrete solutions rather than ideological abstractions.”
"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's original, forthright take on this little-discussed profit-taking trend in the climate change sweepstakes is very unsettling."
Eliza Griswold, author of The Tenth Parallel: "Funk's talent shimmers from the pages of Windfall. Here is a brilliant young stylist at work, pushing the boundaries of investigative journalism and literary non-fiction. With grace, humor and hard-nosed reporting on the startling business of climate profiteering, he takes us along on a searing ride into the maw of the apocalypse."
Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse:
“Funk is a first-rate storyteller who packs adventure and humor in his journalist's bag, and delights in the absurd details of business as unusual. The result is a meticulously researched romp through the backrooms of the climate change industry, by turns thrilling and appalling, and ultimately rather important. There's money under the melting ice, and Funk follows it. Perhaps the only fun book on global climate change you'll ever read.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe:
"Smart, daring, and darkly funny, Windfall offers a new take on perhaps the world's most intractable problem. McKenzie Funk is a gifted storyteller."
Eric Klinenberg, author of Heat Wave and Going Solo:
"Climate change may well be humanity's greatest challenge, but here McKenzie Funk offers definitive evidence that it's also a great way to make a buck. Windfall is a gripping account of how banks, energy companies, engineers, and entrepreneurs have turned a global crisis into a golden opportunity, harvesting short-term profits while sowing the seeds of future ruin. It's an engaging, infuriating, and important story about the way the world works now, and about the reasons it may not work at all tomorrow."
Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck:
"Exploring the profitable frontiers of climate change, Funk travels the globe like some sort of journalistic special agent, patrolling the melting Arctic on a Canadian battleship one minute, breakfasting with the son of a Sudanese warlord the next. His secret weapons: a highly sensitive irony detector and a satirists eye for vanities and vices that Twain would have admired. The result is a wonder, a nonfiction eco-thriller that is disturbing, yes, revelatory, yes, but also a lot more fun than books about ecological catastrophe are supposed to be."
Jon Mooallem, author of Wild Ones:
"McKenzie Funk has traveled around a planet that's melting, flooding and drying out all at once to meet the peculiar characters who are making the biggest, amoral hedge of our time: finding the value and opportunity hidden in all this ecological upheaval. Windfall is a shocking and important book that reads, at times, like dystopian science fiction written by Michael Lewis. But this unrecognizable world is our world, of course. Funk argues that the people he meets merely see it more clearly than the rest of us do."
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.