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WINDFALL by McKenzie Funk Kirkus Star

WINDFALL

The Booming Business of Global Warming

By McKenzie Funk

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59420-401-2
Publisher: Penguin Press

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.