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

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climates previously thought to be inhospitable for crops.

Through three parts—titled “The Melt,” “The Drought,” and “The Deluge”—Funk chronicles the stories of the lesser known opportunists and victims of a changing environment. We rightly know much about those that have been hurt by ecological changes, such as communities in low-lying communities in Bangladesh or South Pacific islands that watched oceans swallow their homes. Fund reports that the Marshall Islands are expected to be the first nation “extinguished” by climate change.

What I found fascinating were the lesser-known stories, the ones of communities or companies finding opportunities in climate change. Take, for example, Greenland, which Funk calls “the first country in the world to be created by global warming.”

Hotter temperatures and shrinking glaciers in the last century meant an untapped “Gulf of Mexico in the North Atlantic” and newly exposed deposits of gold, zinc, and diamonds have become accessible. That newly accessible economic bounty has spurred a push for independence for Greenland, which has been a colony of Denmark since 1721.

Rising seas are creating new opportunities for centuries-old Dutch know-how. The need to keep the sea at bay in the Netherlands has not only created expertise in dam-building but also innovation in tools such as a “floating beach” (the work of Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, patent pending) and “smart soils” that use bacteria to create sandstone in a week, instead of years (an effort by Deltares, a Dutch institute.)

Arcadis, a Dutch engineering firm, wants to export a dual-armed dam system that currently protects Rotterdam to stand guard just north of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to protect New York from devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy.

In Europe’s Alps mountain range, where melting ice is leading to shorter ski seasons, less fresh powder, and rockier trails, there is an … Next Page »

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