Windfall Reading Guide: Exploring the Global Pursuit of Profit in a Changing Climate


Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming is a thought-provoking book written by McKenzie Funk that delves into the unconventional and surprising consequences of climate change. In this eye-opening narrative, Funk explores how the rapidly changing climate is reshaping economies, politics, and even the concept of “place” for people around the world. Moving beyond the common portrayal of a planet in distress, Windfall reveals how individuals and industries are adapting to and profiting from the new world climate reality. With meticulous research, deeply personal stories, and a narrative that effortlessly weaves between diverse locations, Funk challenges our preconceived notions about the impact and response to climate change. Windfall ultimately questions the boundaries between environmentalism and capitalism, leaving readers to ponder the complex choices facing humanity in an age of global warming.


Windfall List

From this reading guide of Windfall by McKenzie Funk, readers can expect to gain a deeper understanding of the key themes and ideas presented in the book. They will also get a clearer picture of the author’s writing style, structure, and the overall narrative arc. The guide may provide additional context, historical background, and analysis to enhance the reading experience. Readers can also benefit from discussion questions or prompts that encourage critical thinking and reflection. Ultimately, this reading guide aims to enhance readers’ comprehension and engagement with Windfall.

Author Background

McKenzie Funk is an American journalist and author known for his expertise in environmental reporting. He has written extensively on issues related to climate change, fossil fuels, and sustainability. Funk’s work has been published in prestigious publications such as National Geographic and Harper’s Magazine, and he has received multiple awards for his investigative reporting.

In 2014, Funk published his critically acclaimed book “Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming,” which explores the ways in which climate change has become a lucrative opportunity for certain industries and individuals. The book delves into the complex world of climate profiteering, highlighting the stories of individuals who have found financial success in the face of environmental disaster.

Funk’s research and reporting in “Windfall” took him to various locations around the world, including the Arctic, Africa, and the Caribbean. His in-depth investigations shed light on the unanticipated consequences and unforeseen beneficiaries of climate change, ultimately challenging readers to confront the moral dilemma of profiting from disaster.

Through his work, Funk aims to raise awareness about the economic implications of climate change and the urgent need for global action. He is recognized as an insightful and compelling writer who combines investigative journalism with an accessible narrative style, making complex environmental issues engaging for a wide range of readers.


Windfall Book Club Questions

1) How does the pursuit of profit and economic growth often come into conflict with environmental sustainability?

The pursuit of profit and economic growth often comes into conflict with environmental sustainability as seen in the book “Windfall” by McKenzie Funk. Throughout the narrative, the author explores various industries and individuals who prioritize their financial gain over the long-term health of the planet. This raises the question of whether it is possible to achieve sustainable growth without compromising the environment.

One example of this conflict is the rise of fossil fuel extraction and its impact on climate change. The book highlights how countries such as Norway and Canada are expanding their oil and gas industries to capitalize on new opportunities in the Arctic. However, this expansion comes at the cost of increased carbon emissions and the destruction of fragile ecosystems. The question arises: Can we continue to prioritize economic growth through fossil fuel exploitation while also addressing climate change?

Another aspect to consider is the impact of relentless consumerism on the environment. The book explores how industries like fashion and technology contribute to excessive waste and pollution. As consumers, we constantly face choices between convenience and sustainability. The question then becomes: How can we balance our desire for material wealth and progress with the need for preserving the environment?

Ultimately, these questions challenge our understanding of progress and development. They require us to critically examine our values and consider the long-term consequences of our actions. To achieve sustainable growth, it is necessary to find innovative solutions that prioritize both economic prosperity and environmental conservation.

2) What ethical dilemmas arise when wealthy nations or individuals profit from the resources and vulnerabilities of less wealthy regions?

A prevalent theme in “Windfall” is the exploration of ethical dilemmas that arise when wealthy nations or individuals exploit the resources and vulnerabilities of less wealthy regions. The book examines instances such as land grabs, resource extraction, and climate change adaptation, where powerful actors often benefit from the misfortunes of others.

One example in the book is the acquisition of land in Africa by foreign investors for large-scale agriculture. These land grabs displace local communities and disrupt their way of life. The question arises: Is it morally acceptable for wealthy nations or individuals to profit from the vulnerability and dispossession of the less privileged?

Another case explored is the selling of climate change adaptation technologies to countries already experiencing its impacts. For instance, the book discusses the sale of seawalls and other protective measures to nations facing rising sea levels. However, this raises the ethical dilemma of whether it is right to profit from the suffering caused by climate change, especially when those most affected are often the least responsible.

These ethical dilemmas force us to question the balance between individual gain and societal well-being. It is crucial to consider the implications of our actions and the responsibility we have towards those less fortunate. By reflecting on these moral questions, we can strive for a more equitable and sustainable world.

3) How does the pursuit of wealth and success impact the moral compass of individuals and societies?

In “Windfall,” McKenzie Funk delves into the impact of the pursuit of wealth and success on the moral compass of individuals and societies. The book examines how the allure of financial gain can lead individuals to compromise their values and engage in morally questionable practices.

One example explored is the world of high finance and investment banking. Funk exposes the ethical dilemmas faced by individuals working in this industry as they navigate a complex web of money and power. The desire for wealth and success often leads to questionable decisions, eroding their moral compass. This raises the question: Does the pursuit of wealth corrupt our moral integrity?

The book also touches upon the concept of the “resource curse,” where the discovery of valuable resources in a region leads to corruption, conflict, and environmental degradation. As societies become consumed by the pursuit of wealth, they often overlook the well-being of their citizens and exploit their resources without regard for the long-term consequences. The moral question that arises here is: How can we ensure that the pursuit of wealth and success does not blind us to the needs and rights of others?

The pursuit of wealth and success can undoubtedly impact our moral compass, but it is important to recognize that individuals and societies have agency in shaping their values. It is crucial to encourage ethical behavior, accountability, and empathy towards others in order to ensure that the pursuit of wealth does not overshadow our collective sense of morality.

Windfall Similar Books

1. “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert – This Pulitzer Prize-winning book explores the current mass extinction of species caused by human activities. It digs deep into the impact of climate change on biodiversity, making it a relevant resource for understanding the environmental consequences discussed in “Windfall.”

2. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein – This book analyzes the use of economic shock therapy in various countries, exploiting natural and human-made disasters for political and economic gain. It relates to “Windfall” by examining the exploitation of climate change and disaster scenarios for profit.

3. “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America” by Timothy Egan – Recounting the massive 1910 wildfire that engulfed national forests in the United States, this book highlights the battle between conservation and exploitation of natural resources. “Windfall” explores similar themes, making this account of an environmental catastrophe highly relevant.

4. “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World” by Jeff Goodell – Focusing on the impact of rising sea levels and climate change on coastal cities, this book illustrates the potential consequences of neglecting climate issues. It complements “Windfall” by examining the long-term effects of environmental changes.

5. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein – In this book, Naomi Klein presents an argument for addressing climate change by challenging the prevailing economic system. With its emphasis on climate and socio-economic justice, it echoes the themes and critiques present in “Windfall.”

Note: These recommendations provide additional insights and related topics to explore but may differ in tone, genre, or focus from “Windfall.”

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