Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming

Overview

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 warming’s physical impacts can be separated into three broad ...

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Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming

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Overview

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 warming’s 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 Israel’s 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.

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Editorial Reviews

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The bad news is that we're not cutting our carbon emissions. The "good" news, according to McKenzie Funk's Windfall is that greedy banks and ambitious entrepreneurs are making billions of dollars on global warming. Much of these new frontiers of money-making derive from calculated bets on continued failure and warming, not on corrective measures. Funk's modern day muckraking lends new perspective and detail to mainstream media coverage and the ongoing debates about climate change. Definitely a conversation starter.

Publishers Weekly
11/11/2013
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. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-11-26
A shocking account of how governments and corporations are confronting the crises caused by global warming. After traveling to 24 countries and more than a dozen states and meeting hundreds of people, journalist Funk concluded that "existing [global] imbalances seem only magnified by climate change." He found major international corporations like Shell and Chevron preparing to invest billions in oil fields made exploitable by retreating Arctic ice. He discovered Wall Street speculators and cash-rich countries like China assembling massive plantations in newly liberated Darfur and other African countries in expectation of coming food crises. He documents the international security-driven responses--building walls, using satellites and other forms of surveillance, and setting up detention facilities--to prevent refugees from famine and flooding in the Southern hemisphere from resettling in the wealthier countries of the Northern hemisphere. The author examines three different effects of global warming: melting ice caps and glaciers, droughts and desertification, and floods resulting from rising oceans. As polar ice retreats, new shipping routes and farmland open up. Greenland is set to become "an untapped Gulf of Mexico in the North Atlantic" and is already ranked in the top 20 of countries with oil reserves. In the western United States, Spain, Israel, and parts of Africa and Latin America, desertification and other effects of rising temperatures--e.g., devastating wildfires--are allowing speculators to put a premium on land ownership and acquire water rights in the expectation of future gains. Furthermore, Monsanto and BASF have filed more than 150,000 patents on the seeds of food plants, trying to lock up the genome. Funk contrasts these attempts to profit from global warming with more-or-less-feasible engineering approaches to mitigation. A well-written, useful global profile emphasizing concrete solutions rather than ideological abstractions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594204012
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/23/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 89,031
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

McKenzie Funk is a journalist whose work has appeared in Harper’sNational GeographicRolling StoneGQOutside, 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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