"Windfall: the Booming business of global warming" by McKenzie Funk.
penguin, pub date January 27, 2014, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-59420-401-2
This is really a fascinating book. Where to begin? okay. How about what it is and what it is not. What it is not:
It is not another be afraid be very afraid effort to explain the actual science of global warming. It is not an effort to explain how we can change the world of politics to fix the problem of global warming.
What it IS:
It IS an effort to shed some light on the amazing economic realities of global warming. These realities are very much contrary to the denialist version of reality, which goes like this:
1. Climate change is a hoax, a successful effort by a handful of pseudo-scientists to get and keep grant funding in defiance of actual science facts
2. Or okay, maybe there is a teensy bit of warming, but there are going to be just as many GOOD things coming out of this process as BAD things, so relax.
Funk dives into the real world with both feet, exploring the Northwest Passage opened up by shrinking arctic ice, the barbed wire fence built by India around Bangladesh to keep climate refugees locked up. He drives around The canyons of southern California with a firefighting crew that works not for California, but rather for an insurance company- and surprise, these guys will only save your house if you insured it with their company! In the real world, patiently explains Funk, we do not make sacrifices to save the Butts of people we don't know. Funk portrays climate change not as a values-free question mark, but rather as a fact of life that we treat like other facts of life. We ask ourselves the following two questions:
If you see a slow motion disaster that nobody is stepping up to fix, don't you think first of how to make sure it will not destroy yourself, your family, your ethnic group, or your country? Of course, duh. Then there is you next thought: how can I make a few bucks off it while I am avoiding the train wreck?
It amused me and disheartened me that Amazon had a review of this book, and the reviewer actually completely failed to understand it. He thought the book basically optimistic, looking at all the efforts to make money from global warming, and assuming that those efforts will make the problem go away. The fool failed to understand the basic distinction between short-selling and long term investing. Taking advantage of misfortune can be extremely profitable. That does not mean that it is intended to solve problems.
In his epilogue, Funk finally expresses his own viewpoint. In fact, he possesses a sense of compassion and justice. In fact, he is pained by the increasing trend of investors and governments to exercise a sort of every-man-for-himself attitude towards the increasing threat of global warming. He admits that plenty of money is going to be made in this process. That money making is not going to solve the problem of global warming- but it will make sure that the "Haves" will fare far better in the disaster than the "Have nots". Suck it up, urges Funk- I didn't make the world, I am merely explaining to you that the rules of human nature have not changed. You have been warned; a hard rain gonna fall, and if you are one of the billions of humans without the $ to buy an umbrella, good luck with that.