Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"McKenzie Funk's new book... is so dang entertaining, you forget you're reading about our very survival (or decline) as a species." ~Lynn

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.

Lynn says:
"QUITE an eyeopener about how neoliberal privatization forces and the astronomical profits to be made from climate change contort the uses to which science is applied, McKenzie Funk's new book, Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming is so dang entertaining, you forget you're reading about our very survival (or decline) as a species. It's definitely sobering stuff to watch as vast land and water tracts are sold to the highest bidders at auction, making the melting arctic a bonanza for extraction of petroleum, zinc, molybdenum, rare earth minerals and more, and as vodka-for-land deals in the Ukraine set the stage for a new privately owned breadbasket to the world. Funk's wit and trenchant observations make the book too jaw-dropping an exploration of human intelligence combined with its opposite- plus hubris- to put down. It would be too simple and pedantic to vilify the major players, and fortunately we have a writer here who goes the extra thousand miles to dig so deeply into both the hard science of the gargantuan human carbon footprint on the planet as well as the psychology of the very human, often likable, complex scientists, corporate think-tank 'futurists' and investors who are shaping our future that it's hard to miss our own part to play in this unfolding drama.

How often do you get to meet a former AIG trader dealing with a warlord to acquire future farmland or hang out at a Deutchbank 'green' extravaganza with a real 6' long anaconda near a fake waterfall in Manhattan, look at dengue-fever mosquitoes being genetically modified or marvel at geoengineering schemes that seem straight out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel, and with the understated but inescapable Vonnegut-like conscience, considering the island nation states scrambling to define what their citizens' status will be once their homeland is entirely submerged underwater? Well, all I can say is read this book. You won't be sorry. Or, you might be very sorry, but sorry could be what it takes to glean an understanding of the Shakespearean learning curve we're on and what a ride we're in for. (spoiler alert: Tempting to say Yeee-haww, but I'm not tellin' where the Dr. Strangelove reference is in the book)." 

Lynn also writes reviews for "The Voice".

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