Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
some of the metaphorical herdsmen among us have bigger cows. When I traveled a second time to Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and stayed in the village of Point Hope, I carried with me The Firecracker Boys by Dan O’Neill (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), the story of how we nearly detonated six hydrogen bombs to create a new Arctic harbor—a brilliant history I wish I had read long ago. Lastly, a note on translations: Some in the book are my own. For dialogues originally in Russian or French, I
Line, 229, 230 Hollis, Leo, 112 Homestead Acts, 129–30 Hoover Institution, 258 Hoque, Enamul, 189–91, 200, 205–9, 212 Horner, Jack, 270 Horsfall, Sophie, 4 Howard, John, 136 Hudson Institute, 42 Hudson Resources, 73 Human Rights Watch, 149, 192 hurricanes: Hurricane Andrew, 108 Hurricane Ivan, 239 Hurricane Katrina, 108, 222, 238 Hurricane King, 260 Hurricane Sandy, 215, 219, 232, 233–34, 284, 287 and insurance, 4, 98, 108, 110,
In the early years of Scramble, despite some “turbulence,” the global economy continues to grow. “National governments, the principal actors in Scramble,” Bentham’s team explained, “focus their energy policies on supply levers because curbing the growth of energy demand—and hence economic growth—is simply too unpopular for politicians to undertake.” Much of the energy powering these unfettered times comes from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, which emits twice as much carbon as does gas and
seeking to come out ahead in a new, warmed world. They were universally kind and hospitable to me, and nearly all, driven by ideology, fear, or hard-nosed realism—or all three—thought they were doing the necessary thing. In six years, I never met a bad person. When you’re on the high ground—wealthy enough, northerly enough, far enough above the sea—global warming is not yet the existential threat that it is for an Egyptian or a Marshall or Staten Islander. It’s a shorter ski season, a more
diaspora. The president of the Marshall Islands, a balding man with a blue tie, leaned forward in his seat at the front of the room and clenched his hands, as if bracing for a blow. The country’s foreign minister stood up. “The wholesale relocation of our nation is no more acceptable to us than it would be to the countries of the many UN ambassadors in this room,” he declared. Cape Verde’s ambassador seconded him. “A lot of people think that sacrificed lands will die without shouting,” he boomed.