Not surprisingly, Funk finds that oil companies like Shell do whatever they can to maximize profits, devastating the arctic and ignoring the objections of local Inuits. But he also finds surprising responses to climate change, such as a newly nationalist Canada sending soldiers to guard freshly exposed land in the Northwest Passage, and Greenlanders trading natural resources once buried by ice for an influx of cash to financially free themselves from Denmark. One revolutionary leader in Greenland boils it down to game theory: “We’re very aware that we’ll cause more climate change by drilling for oil. But should we not when it can buy us our independence?”
And, as Funk discovers, melting ice uncovers all sorts of new markets. Like in the Alps, where a new Israeli desalination machine is combating a melting glacier and a dearth of new snow.
Funk’s case studies
paint a broad picture of how the world reacts to climate change, each
study presenting a new problem and expanding the reader’s point of view
beyond the simplicity of fear. Funk urges us to think about whether our
responses to the environment serve the interests of social justice. He
offers no solution beyond a reality check. He also sympathizes with the
underdogs, noting that the people who cause the problems in the wealthy
Northern hemisphere won’t have to face the most dire consequences. “I
believe it is naive to hope that we in the north will significantly cut
emissions or consumption...because we personally feel threatened,” he
says, revealing the absurdity of our desire to chase a target that is
moving faster than we can hit it. Either way, though, don’t doubt
someone’s getting rich.
GO: McKenzie Funk reads at Powell’s on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 228-4651, on Monday, Feb. 10. 7:30 pm. Free.