Windfall | McKenzie Funk

Summary of: Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming
By: McKenzie Funk

Introduction

Step into the controversial world of profiting from climate change in the summary of the book ‘Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming’ by McKenzie Funk. Exploring the intersections of environmental catastrophe and economic opportunity, this summary highlights how entrepreneurs are making fortunes by addressing the needs of a changing world. Discover how desalination plants, high-tech sea walls, and floating artificial islands are becoming integral components of a warmer world, as well as how climate speculators and insurance companies navigate this complex landscape.

Climate Change: A Business Opportunity or a Human Rights Issue?

Greenhouse gas emissions are causing a dangerous rise in global temperatures that could bring catastrophic events such as ice-free Arctic summers, dust bowls, and disappearing island nations. To prevent such a future, humanity should significantly reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. However, some investors, entrepreneurs, and corporations are exploiting climate change by inventing and selling ways to adapt to a warmer world instead of preventing it. These include desalination plants, high-tech seawalls, and floating artificial islands. Climate speculators invest in water rights or farmland that could increase in value in the event of drought or famine in current growing regions. Citigroup, UBS, and Lehman Brothers report on stocks whose value is likely to rise as the environment deteriorates. The book argues that climate change is not just a scientific, economic, or environmental issue but also a human rights issue. It calls for a real effort to stop climate change and eliminate the economic opportunities of environmental catastrophe.

The Dual Effects of Shrinking Arctic Ice Cover

The Arctic’s melting ice cover presents challenges and opportunities. Catastrophes such as sea level rise could befall several island nations and coastlines, threatening their existence. On the other hand, the thaw could offer oil companies access to untapped oil fields and make drilling, oil transportation, and spill cleaning easier. Additionally, the melt could release methane from the Arctic’s permafrost, potentially serving as both an energy source and a greenhouse gas. The US Arctic Research Commission suggests that, with Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Northern countries can clarify who gets rights to these deposits. This provision could allow the US to increase its holdings by 4.1 million square miles, gaining rights to about $650 billion worth of polar petroleum.

The Battle for Northern Shipping Routes

The opening of northern shipping routes due to melting lands has created a battle over the sovereignty of the famous Northwest Passage. Canada claims the waterway, while other countries including the US see it as an international route. In 2007, the passage was free of ice for the first time in history, creating new opportunities for cargo and oil ships from every nation.

Greenland’s Plan for Independence

Greenland, a former Danish colony, intends to fund its independence by capitalizing on the effects of global warming. As the ice melts, deposits of gold, diamonds, zinc, and other minerals, as well as significant oil reserves, are exposed. The warmer waters also attract fish, increasing Greenland’s potential fishing stocks. Furthermore, they’re planning to export water from melting glaciers to generate revenue. The exploitation of these resources could fund Greenland’s path towards independence.

IDE’s Mission to Combat Climate Change Through Desalination

Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE) is combating climate change by providing fresh water to drought-stricken areas. IDE’s plant in Ashkelon processes 86 million gallons of water daily, meeting almost 6% of Israel’s water demand. IDE has built hundreds of desalination plants worldwide. However, building these plants comes with its challenges as they require a considerable amount of power, which can further worsen drought and global warming if the power plants use coal for fuel. Despite this, IDE continues to thrive by helping people adapt to climate change.

The Impact of IDE on Climate Change Mitigation

IDE’s innovative technology helps countries in the north combat the effects of warming. Glaciers in Austria are receding twice as fast as in 2004, and the Alps have lost 50% of their ice since the early 20th century. Ski resorts are turning to IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker, a $2 million machine that creates 35,000 cubic feet of snow daily, regardless of the temperature outside.

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