Xconomy Bookclub: “Windfall” Looks at the Business of Climate Change

Xconomy Texas — 

Summer is around the corner and with it the seasonal hot-and-sticky climate, favored stomping grounds for mosquitoes. This year, health officials have warned Houston and other coastal communities along the Gulf coast that Zika virus-bearing mosquitoes could add a very unpleasant twist to the summer season.

Over a decade ago, it was dengue fever, which caused two deaths in Houston. Warmer temperatures for longer parts of a year mean more mosquitoes and more disease.

But what if mosquitoes like the Zika-bearing Aedes Aegypti could be, well, modified so that the insects’ spawn are incapable of transmitting disease? One British company, Oxitec, is working on a program to create modified male Aedes mosquitoes—a Trojan horse that when bred with native females may produce offspring that would not live beyond the larval stage. The goal would be to reduce the mosquito population and thereby reduce the spread of disease.

That sort of innovation are among the topics covered by independent journalist McKenzie Funk in his book “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming.”

“Windfall” does not discuss whether global warming is real. Instead, Funk takes readers on an expedition around the world to meet companies and governments that are seeking products and services to cope with the effects of global warming or those peddling solutions, seeking to make money from climate change. “An ecological catastrophe was not necessarily a financial catastrophe for everyone,” Funk writes.

Indeed, changing weather patterns are good for business for not only mosquito bioengineers but also private firefighting companies hired by insurers in California; Israeli desalination plants that are now selling snow in the Alps; Dutch seawall builders finding new markets for their expertise; and Wall Street profiteers brokering new agricultural lands in … Next Page »

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