Tag Archives: international business

“Windfall – the Booming Business of Global Warming” by McKenzie Funk

This book (another grab from the “new arrivals” shelf) overwhelmed me. I am woefully ignorant about business and finance, and my ignorance increases with scale. Most of what Funk discusses is global in scope.

Funk is a journalist, and it is harder for me to evaluate his work than, for example, that of a scientist like Richard Primack (author of Walden Warming, see this blog, June 23, 2014). I feel like I need to enlist my local cast of experts about this book, and worry that in some subject areas, I don’t know anyone.

If you decide not to read this book, you should at least look at the seven-page epilogue, entitled “MAGICAL THINKING”. Towards the end, Funk states, “Climate change is often framed as a scientific or economic or environmental issue, not often enough as an issue of human justice.” Good point.

Funk divides climate impacts into three categories – melting (problems of the Arctic), drought and sea level rise. Four chapters are devoted to each of these subjects.

The warming of the arctic puts Canada in a position of incredible strategic importance. Canada will “benefit” in many ways (longer growing season, open Northwest Passage, etc) but I put “benefit” into quotes because so many complications can be foreseen. One is sovereignty. Will Canada become the 51st state of the US? What will happen if our perceived interests diverge? Will the US “let” Canada chart an independent course?

And what about Greenland? I was barely aware of it as a country. I thought I was doing well to have some acquaintance with Iceland! Will Greenland become an agricultural state? A major source of strategic minerals? A tourist Mecca? We can safely assume it will emerge from obscurity.

On the subject of drought, I found Funk’s chapter on the Sahara most interesting, because he considers both desertification and human migration. Are the Africans currently trying to get to Europe “climate refugees”? Under what circumstances will the countries of Europe decide to admit “climate refugees”, and how will they be integrated? Will the richer Northern countries help their poorer, more southerly neighbors (like, say, Malta) that often receive the largest number of undocumented refugees? Can workers from Africa fill important needs in the US or northern Europe?

Many questions, few answers…

In his chapters on “the deluge”, aka sea level rise, Funk considers some technological fixes that might allow adaptation to climate change. One is genetic engineering of insects (starting with the mosquito) to inhibit malaria and dengue, and keep the tropics livable. Most surprising (to me) and actually, maybe somewhat feasible is the introduction of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to mimic the cooling impact of volcanic eruptions. This is referred to as the “Mount Pinatubo” proposal, because of the cooling which followed Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption.

I recommend this book because most of us need to think and act “bigger” on climate change.


“Kismet, Karma and Kamasutra – Survive India or Die Laughing” by Narendra Simone

Attention, yoga buddies! Don’t read this book if you are sentimental about India. In fact, don’t even read this review. There is absolutely no yoga in the book.

Narendra Simone is an Indian who spent most of his adult life in other parts of the world, then returned, mid career, as an executive for a joint venture company. He is a dual national (a global citizen!), deriving Canadian citizenship through his second wife, his companion in the adventures described in this book.

Simone describes India as “the land of mystique, ancient culture and culinary delight”, which he then translates into “intense corruption, complicated bureaucracy and severe stomach cramps”. He also quotes the saying “A black man’s misery is a white man’s adventure”. In other words, he is NOT happy to be back. So he plays the whole thing for laughs, and there are many.

To be a returned Indian executive is to be a “mark” for every hustler in the country (as you are assumed to be ridiculously wealth), and to be constantly told that the reason you don’t understand the most preposterous decisions, explanations and situations is that you have lost your culture and become contaminated.

Simone’s description of a visit to an Ayervedic doctor is hilarious. The doctor assured him that since he had several siblings who died young, he would undoubtedly live for 100 years.

Simone and his family managed to have a good deal of fun along the way, but his parting words are “The only way to cope when your company offers you a position to work in India is don’t…Honest, take it from me. Just say no.” And he returned to Canada!