Author Discussion: Finding Profit In Climate Change | St. Louis Public Radio

Author Discussion: Finding Profit In Climate Change

Feb 19, 2014

In his book “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming,” author and freelance journalist McKenzie Funk moves the conversation on climate change beyond whether or not it is happening to focus on people around the world who are finding ways to profit from it.

“There has been a lot of conversation about getting everyone to be on board with the belief that climate change is happening, but really the big conversation is about what are we going to do with that, and it is not automatic that people will suddenly ride a light rail or get bicycles or all that,” Funk said.

His book is separated into three sections called “The Melt,” “The Drought” and “The Deluge” based on three different effects of climate change, and highlights how different groups have found opportunities for financial gain in each one. The ice melt in Greenland, for example, has opened up new mineral deposits for mining.

Funk doesn’t see the people looking for profit in global warming as good or bad, however. He just sees them as individuals acting in their own self-interest, responding realistically to the world around them.

“They’re saying look, this is going to happen. And if it’s going to happen, we’ve got to be ready for it,” Funk said.

Some technologies, such as sea walls to prevent flooding, have the potential to both make profit for companies and provide methods to alleviate the effects of climate change. But because countries like the United States can better afford to pay for a sea wall than countries like Bangladesh, the result is that some parts of the world will be better able to weather the effects of climate change than others, Funk said.

“Activists say that once we believe in climate change out of self-interest we’ll do something about it. But what if externalities are passed on to other parts of the world? If it is not quite as bad for us as it is for everyone else, are we going to do it just out of self-interest or does it need to be something more?" Funk said. "I do think that if people are going to deal with this, it’s going to need to be something more than straight economics. It’s going to need to be something more than straight self-interest.”

Still, said Funk, people act out of more than self-interest all the time. After all, he didn’t become a freelance journalist because it was a lucrative business.

Related Event

McKenzie Funk Discussion and Signing
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
7:00 p.m.
Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid
For more information, call 314-367-6731 or visit the Left Bank Books website.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.