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Adventure : Media

When An Explorer's Body Begins to Eat Itself

When an explorer is dying of starvation in the wild, his voice takes on a peculiar deep tone.

“We were all shocked at beholding the emaciated countenances of the Doctor and Hepburn,” wrote 19th century Arctic explorer John Franklin. “The alteration in our appearance was equally distressing to them... we were little more than skin and bone. The Doctor particularly remarked the sepulchral tone of our voices, which he requested us to make more cheerful if possible, unconscious that his own partook of the same key.”

Other strange physiological phenomena occur when the body is totally deprived of food, some that might be considered desirable, others not. The eyesight of one subject in a 1915 study improved dramatically on day 14 during a carefully monitored 31-day fast and was twice as acute at fast’s end as at the beginning. Others reported a peculiar lightness in their bearing. Heart rates can drop to 35 beats per minute. And there’s the nasty breath—breath that smells like a solvent such as acetone. 

These observations came from controlled studies of fasting. But the members of the expedition that I’m writing about, the Overland Party of John Jacob Astor attempt to found the first American colony on the West Coast, a kind of Pacific version of Jamestown, were not fasting. Rather, they were starving—they simply couldn’t find food—while traveling hard in winter’s cold, like Franklin’s party quoted above. Their caloric needs were enormous—as I wrote in my last blog posting, the energy demands of traveling hard on foot in winter can amount to an extraordinary 6,000 calories—or nine square meals—per day.

After abandoning their canoes, which had smashed among the waterfalls and rapids of a canyon, the 50-person Overland Party, led by Wilson Price Hunt, a young New Jersey businessman with no experience in the wilderness, split into two main groups in November, 1811. Trekking on foot, they followed the unknown river downstream toward what they hoped was the Pacific. Barren lava plains spread on both sides of the river gorge. With no game, and no fish appearing in their nets, they managed to trade with scattered bands of Shoshone Indians for a few dogs and horses. Consuming these—a group of 50 people trekking in winter could demolish the caloric equivalent of a large animal every few days, thus they traveled in two smaller groups—they chewed on bits of beaverskin and spare moccasins. Hunt stayed with the slower group, which included the family of the Indian interpreter, his pregnant wife, and their two toddler boys. 

For a month, Hunt’s group struggled onward along the river. Then the river poured into a massive canyon—now known as Hell’s Canyon of the Snake River, the deepest canyon in North America. One snowy December day, as Hunt’s slow party struggled downstream over rocky outcrops, they spotted the other main party staggering back upstream on the opposite bank! This was the worst kind of news. Led by Scottish fur trader Ramsay Crooks, it had been stopped by the extreme depth and ruggedness of the canyon and the onset of winter’s deepening snows. Still worse, Crooks and his party verged on collapse from starvation and exhaustion due to the tremendous exertion and caloric needs.

Hunt had a small boat crafted from a horsehide and brought Crooks and a voyageur, Le Clerc, across the river from the starving party on the opposite bank. Crooks told him there was no way forward down the canyon on foot or boat. Hunt knew he now had to retreat upstream in hopes of finding Shoshone villages and food. They were at least ten days or two weeks away. Even after Hunt fed Crooks and Le Clerc the last of his horsemeat, however, they were still too weak to walk and became feebler with every moment. Hunt, loyal to a fault, trying to lead by consensus, wanted to stay with the dying men. Crooks was his friend and partner. But the 20 other members of his party, the voyageurs especially, harangued him to abandon Crooks and Le Clerc and retreat as hastily as possibly to the Shoshone villages and the hope of distant food.

“They said that we would all die from starvation,” wrote Hunt in his journal, “and urged me by all means to go on.”

The process had now begun for everyone. 

The human body has a special mechanism to deal with starvation in these dangerous circumstances. A fascinating account on the physiology of human fasting can be found on the website derangedphysiology.com. Drawing on the classic 1970 study “Starvation in Man” by George F. Cahill, the website tells us that the human body, even when starving, wants to continue to feed nutrients to the brain, despite all else. The starving human body also tries to hold onto a certain reserve of ready energy for “fight or flight” or other emergencies.

Normally, the fuel driving our bodies is glucose (a simple sugar) and glycogen (glucose transformed and stored in the muscles). We constantly drain this fuel supply to power our muscle movements and metabolism. We refill this fuel supply through eating.

But under fasting conditions—starvation—the body makes a peculiar switch. The muscles and heart stop using up all the ready fuel—glucose and glycogen—saving some of it for emergencies, and start to draw on fuel made from the breakdown of the body’s fat reserves and what’s called “ketone metabolism.”

“The glycogen reserves in humans never get completely depleted,” according to the website. “There is at all times a hepatic [liver] reserve, waiting to mobilize and rescue the organism from some sort of horrible situation.”

But the brain has to function, too, in order to save the starving human from “some horrible situation.” The human body is remarkable among animals in that the human brain can function with alternative energy supplies to glucose. Some of the body’s fats are converted to what’s known as “ketone bodies,” which, only in humans, have the ability to enter the brain and power it. (The human brain of a 150-pound male requires about 325 calories a day, or the equivalent of about one-and-a-half energy bars, to keep the lights on.) Thus by switching over to alternative energy supplies like ketone bodies, the brain, too, helps save the body’s glucose reserves (as well as the body’s muscle mass) for emergency “fight or flight” situations like a kind of human rocket fuel.

The “acetone breath” of starvation or fasting comes from the metabolism of these ketone bodies into byproducts like acetone, which is then dissipated through urine and through exhalation from the lungs.

Eventually, however, as the fats are used up, the body will begin to break down its own proteins—its muscles and tissues—and convert them to fuel. (None of the physiology of starvation or fasting that I’ve read explains the deep voices such as Franklin’s, but I wonder if it has something to do with the proteins of the vocal cords breaking down. Maybe a reader will know the answer.)

“An organism which is consuming its own protein is truly struggling,” according to derangedphysiology.com. “That said, if your [human] organism is struggling it has some 6kg or so of protein to get through before it dies.”

Ramsay Crooks and the voyageur Le Clerc had clearly entered this protein-consuming phase of starvation, and had finally used up whatever rocket-fuel reserves they had possessed.

Hunt, deeply conflicted, profoundly troubled—were his loyalties to his good but dying men, or to his leadership of the group as a whole?—finally abandoned the starving pair in the canyon depths. But he didn’t forsake them entirely. He left them two beaverskins to chew on, and promised that as soon as he found food, he would send it back to feed them.

Peter Stark is a full-time freelance writer of non-fiction books and articles specializing in adventure and exploration history. His most recent book, Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire; a Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival, tells the harrowing tale of the quest to settle a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific Coast and will be published in March 2014 by Ecco/HarperCollins.

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7 Questions with Mountaineer Mom Sophie Helenek

You can call Sophie Helenek many things: a recovering investment banker, the youngest French woman to climb Mount Everest, and—as of 2013—a mother. But having her daughter wasn't going to terminate Helenek's six-year love affair with climbing. We caught up with Helenek via email to talk about staying active during pregnancy, exploring with babies, and her book series written for infants.

How did you make the decision to start a family?
I was a mountain climber on my way to realizing my goal of climbing the 14 highest peaks in the world. Being pregnant came as a wonderful surprise, which I embraced from day one. I switched gears to enjoy the wonder of motherhood. Raising our baby girl is now our new Everest.

How did you stay active and fit during your pregnancy?
I had lots energy when I was pregnant. I enjoyed climbing Mount Washington (the highest peak in New Hampshire), Mount Madison, and Mount Mansfield (the highest peak in Vermont). The panoramic view at the top of Mount Mansfield was outstanding. I could see the Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks at my left and at my right. I could see Mount Washington with its top in the clouds.
As I entered in the third trimester, my doctor strongly recommended me to walk instead of trek. So I switched to kayaking. My belly was relatively small, so kayaking on smooth water while watching birds was very relaxing.

Has it been difficult to get back into shape since having the baby?
When the winter was over, I went walking at a local park next to the river. I was alone at first, then I met some other moms, and I started building a walking/running mom group. I met them three times a week. It was great because we were sharing our stories, our struggles, and our good times with our babies.

When the weather was too hot for our babies, the mom groups stopped. But I stayed active; I did some landscaping on our property while my daughter was napping, and I water-skied in the evening with my husband. During the winter, I ice climbed and skied.

I did not struggle or fight to get back in shape. I enjoy being active, as well sharing the outside activities with my daughter. I think it is excellent for her to be outside when the weather allows it.

Describe the process of writing your books.
It was an emotional roller coaster. You go all over the map. I started confidently, drafting a few things, but then I hit the wall. I had doubted and questioned myself: Is it any good? What am I doing? Then I was able to put myself together, had a second breath, and kept writing. Hit the wall again, and I almost gave up. But I stayed strong. With lots of courage and resilience, I finished and published My First Book series, which includes four books: Fruits, Sky Wonders, Shapes, and Musical Instruments.

My inspiration was my daughter. When she was a small baby, I showed her an M.C. Escher book. She seemed to like the black and white spiral drawings. When I say "like," I understand you don't really know what is going on in an infant's head, but I could tell that something happened. I was surprised and started reading about how babies' eyes work, what they see, and why.

At birth, babies are very nearsighted; that is why they are interested in bold black and white shapes and high contrast patterns. Eager to learn more, I read bunch of studies on speech development, child temperament, and babies' milestones. Gathering all this information, I developed and designed My First Books series from a baby's perspective. I wanted to write an engaging book that promotes bonding and supports an infant's developmental growth milestones: vision, memory, speech, and social skills.

They are not just picture books or bedtime stories but rather activity books conceived to stimulate a baby's senses.

Here how it works:

  • At first, a baby will enjoy simple illustrations with black-and-white and high-contrast patterns designed especially for the very young to focus on.
  • As babies gets older, their brains learn to distinguish bright primary colors and will start identifying the illustrations with the words you read, which triggers their memory process.
  • Each picture is accompanied by a simple word that babies will love repeating and which helps their speech development.
  • The last pages show all the illustrations together, which also helps the baby's memory process.
  • My First Book series offers a special feature for toddlers, as they can write on the book with a white board pen, wipe it, and write again!

How do you incorporate books into parenting?
My daughter absolutely loves books. She enjoys being read to or just playing with them. Her favorite game is flipping pages one by one. Books seem soothing for her.

I incorporate several type books into my parenting: nighttime stories, which are mainly soft pastel drawing books that are calming; nursery rhyme books, which are more wordy and playful; and activity baby board books like My First Book series, which are placed with all other toys.

My First Book books can be a great medium to bond and interact with a baby, as well as being perceived by the baby as an accessible toy to play with or without an adult. Babies enjoy turning My First Book pages, which are extra thick, easy to grab, and they are captivated by the illustrations.

Reading is essential in your baby's development. For instance, reading aloud to a baby stimulates developing senses and builds listening and memory skills that can help a baby grow up to be a reader. Reading aloud to a child:

  • Promotes listening skills
  • Increases the number of vocabulary words babies hear
  • Develops attention span and memory
  • Helps babies learn to understand the meanings of words
  • Promotes bonding and calmness for both baby and parent
  • Instills the love of books and learning

As an adult, what books do you enjoy?
I'm reading mainly French novels that my mom send me. They are my connection to my French. I'm also magazine savvy. I am currently subscribed to a dozen of magazines from American Scientist to Climbing to Fast Company to Time.

Do you encourage your daughter to lead an active, adventurous life?
My daughter is one year old. She is a very happy baby and nothing seems to bother her. She is content with herself, which makes life very easy for us. I let her explore, and warn her when it is dangerous. Being kind but firm seems to be the key.

 

 

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Devin Super Tramp: The Boy King of YouTube Huck Shots

It's just past dawn in Jacksonville, Florida, and I’m on the set of YouTube filmmaker Devin Graham’s latest video project, at EverBank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. The action is unfolding at the tippy-top of one of eight towers that support the lighting arrays, 350 feet above the playing surface, from which various members of Graham’s crew and the Jaguar squad will zip-line across the field. 

Graham, 30, is based out of Provo, Utah, and happens to be the world’s most bankable action-sports video maker, as measured by the Internet’s global reserve currency: the click. He’s polite and affable, Mormon like the rest of his team, and a tad husky, with his trademark plaid baseball cap turned backward over a floppy mop of brown hair that makes him look half his age. “I’m scared of heights,” he readily acknowledges as he steps out into a crow’s nest, where a crew is rigging the massive zip line. 

Though you may not be familiar with Graham, you’re almost certainly familiar with his work. His YouTube channel, Devin Super Tramp—the name is taken from Chris McCandless’s moniker in Into the Wild—has 1.7 million subscribers and falls a few rungs below Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s YouTube channel and a few above Coldplay’s in popularity. Graham has uploaded 106 catchy, watchable videos in the past three years, and they’ve been viewed a combined 288 million times. These days, he’s uploading a video every week. Highlights include a 140-foot rope swing at Corona Arch, near Moab, Utah, that has netted 22 million views. And the dubstep music video he shot for former America’s Got Talent contestant Lindsey “Epic Violin Girl” Stirling, where she dances while playing in an ice palace, which topped 77 million views last year. There was the Australia grass-kart-racing video, where millennials caromed down a ski hill in open soapbox racers. And then there’s the second Moab rope-swing video, in which Creighton Baird, 25, a reality-show-worthy wild man and a frequent star in Graham’s movies, pushes his then girlfriend over the edge of a 400-foot precipice. Seconds later, her tiny voice shouts from the distance, “I’m breaking up with you!” 

“If we’re being honest, she deserved it,” jokes Seth Jones, 26, a crew member and high school friend of Baird’s, during a pause in the action. The incident made Baird “as undatable as Chris Brown” for several months. (In truth, she’d asked him to push her if she couldn’t bring herself to jump.) 

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/worlds-largest-rope_fe.jpg","caption":""World's Largest Rope Swing", 22.3 million clicks."}%}

Ever since the share button became the driving force in media consumption, debate has raged over whether viral content is an animal spirit that can’t be captured or a wild horse simply in need of a harness. In 2013, the tamers declared victory. BuzzFeed has generated billions of clicks through its sharable-content model, and more recently, sites like Upworthy have exploded by tapping into our willingness to pass along anything fresh and uplifting, no matter how banal. (Example: “This supercut of animals yawning might kill you with cuteness.”)

But as far as one-man viral-video auteurs go, Graham is in a league of his own, and Corporate America has taken notice. Graham now gets paid tens of thousands of dollars on top of production costs to place products, from Ford to Kellogg’s to Mountain Dew, in his videos. Kevin Allocca, head of culture and trends at YouTube, says Graham is emblematic “of a big change that’s happened in the gatekeeping system of media. A guy like Devin can set up shop in a place like Utah and become a mogul in the entertainment space without needing a giant studio.” Graham is in such demand that when one sponsor dropped out of the Jacksonville zip-line-party shoot, Panasonic replaced it within hours, sending Graham a GoPro-like action cam and a set of headphones that he had his talent wear while he filmed them. Though not a client, the Jaguars also understand the value of Graham’s mojo and are more than willing to give him the run of the place.

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/salt-boarding_fe.jpg","caption":""Salt Boarding", 1.8 million clicks."}%}

At 9 a.m., Graham’s hired riggers are ready to stress-test their creation, built by 53-year-old Tom Andrews, a sun-worn Gunks climber. The contraption consists of a bungee-jumping cord attached by pulleys to an 850-foot zip line that spans the width of the stadium, terminating at the top of the opposite lighting tower. A rigger named Paul kicks a pair of 100-pound disc weights over the edge. The weights rocket briefly toward the nosebleed seats 80 feet below us, clank together dully, and arc cleanly toward the 50-yard line, all of it in near silence. “That’s what we like,” says Andrews.

They reset the apparatus and get ready for the day’s action. The Jaguars’ furry mascot, Jaxson de Ville, along with Baird, Jones, and a half-dozen of the team’s cheerleaders, clad in booty shorts and high-heeled boots, will leap, dive, and somersault off the stadium lights using the bungee-zip-line rig.

Graham shouts to his crew, positioned with cameras around the tower: “Everyone good? Creighton? Good?” He signals for another cameraman to launch a drone that will record the action from above and begins the jump countdown. Then comes a shout from Jones down on the field: “Hey, where’s the record button on this one?”

“I like to hire guys who don’t know the rules, so they aren’t worried about breaking them,” says Graham.

Despite what his videos might imply, Graham is less a visionary than a diligent researcher. He gets ideas from his fans and from videos on Facebook that have performed decently but could really catch fire if they were shot and edited a little more strategically. Climbers had been swinging at Corona Arch well before Baird first showed Graham a clip of the action. And Graham’s video of slow-motion underwater dogs, uploaded in October 2012, arrived shortly after similar still photos became a brief Internet meme. Says Graham: “The whole game is looking at what other people are sharing, what’s viral, and doing my own rendition of it.”

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/trike-drifting_fe.jpg","caption":""Trike Drifting", 13.5 million clicks."}%}

His rendition is his secret. Graham’s signature is in making short videos in which attractive people are having crazy fun and don’t say much, and (it appears) somebody happened to bring along a camera. They’re the sort of thing you’d like to imagine you and your friends doing—mud fights, being pulled in a cardboard box behind Dale Earnhardt Jr., getting flung from a human slingshot. “I watch his stuff online on my TV when I get home at night all the time,” says Allocca. “Devin’s friends are having way more fun than whatever I’m doing.” That it looks like a low-budget production is another big part of the formula. The goal is for it to seem attainable. (Warning: It isn’t. Last March, a copycat who attempted to re-create the rope swing died.) And while the rest of the action-sports world has adopted Hollywood production values, Graham shoots mostly with a Canon DSLR. “I realized that people would connect with me better if I did everything on a camera they could afford,” he says. 

Graham’s journey to mogulhood began in 2009, when he made his first video, a tutorial on how to beat halitosis for a company called Orabrush, which was launching a breath-freshening tongue cleaner. The clip killed it (18 million views and counting) because there hadn’t yet been a really good video on how to combat bad breath. He quickly dropped out of Brigham Young University’s film school. A series of cliff-jumping videos he shot in Hawaii went viral in December 2010 and were his first product-placement gigs. Business has grown quickly from there, with enough money rolling in to allow Graham to keep a small crew working consistently and to hire his father, who handles communications in addition to running his own drywalling business. Graham’s got an agent in Los Angeles who’s there largely to make his old-media clients feel comfortable about doing business with a guy who seems to shoot from the hip. “The fight for creative control is one of my least favorite things,” says Graham. “But they’re starting to trust me.” 

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/cliff-jumping-hawaii_fe.jpg","caption":""Cliff Jumping Hawaii", six million clicks."}%}

Occasionally, safety has been an issue. A guy broke his collarbone and a girl coughed up blood in Lake Powell in October 2012, both either leaping onto or being launched from a giant inflatable air bladder called the Blob. And several participants have been knocked unconscious by hitting the water at high speed after being launched by a slingshot.

{%{"image":"http://media.outsideonline.com/images/human-slingshot_fe.jpg","caption":""Human Slingshot Slip and Slide", 12.9 million clicks."}%}

Graham has taken extra precautions in Jacksonville. He hired the riggers from Aerial Concepts, a stunt-safety-management firm, to set up the zip line. Then each jump requires about an hour to prepare. By 9 P.M., the crew has executed seven jumps. Baird pulled a double backflip and Jones a gainer. A cheerleader named Caitlin swan-dived with a pom-pom in one hand and a GoPro camera on a stick in the other. The riggers are exhausted and need to quit, but Graham has other ideas. 

“Maybe we can just shoot the intro with Jaxson,” he offers. Parker Walbeck, another cameraman, is playing catch on the sidelines with Baird, and Jones is dozing in a folding chair in the tunnel to the locker rooms. Graham keeps rolling, shot after shot. He’s got no time to waste. In a few weeks is Zorb bowling (with those inflatable hamster balls people ride inside) in Mammoth, California, and after that, the Island of Aruba needs him and his friends to stage an epic pirate battle using two tall sailing ships.

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The Danger Zone

A motocross rider drills a three-foot pole extension into his helmet, affixes a GoPro camera to it, then wrenches his neck when the jury-rigged device whacks a tree. An Australian BASE jumper leaps from a ledge in Moab, Utah, does a flip, and releases his parachute bridle, and the line wraps around his chest cam. He falls to his death.

The fact that both of these accidents happened while people were filming their adventure exploits isn't surprising. Wearable cameras have made it easier than ever to chase YouTube stardom—and to thwack yourself in the process. What's disturbing is that, increasingly, the placement of the cams themselves is contributing to the carnage.

Fueled by our desire to capture more interesting non-POV footage, a cottage industry of aftermarket-accessory companies such as Get Hypoxic, GoPole, and Sumomoto has sprung up to allow users to affix cameras to themselves in various positions. Sumomoto's aluminum GoPro arm mount requires you to drill holes in your helmet to attach the foot-long beam. This sort of customization can severely damage the helmet. It also changes the wearer's center of gravity and throws off his or her balance, which can lead to nasty outcomes. As Edward Becker, executive director of the Snell Memorial Foundation, a helmet advocacy group, puts it, "When that beam comes in contact with the ground or trees, it's going to exert some wicked forces around your neck."

{%{"quote":"The camera becomes, to some degree, a weapon. When a line comes out from a parachute, it's a snag point."}%}

Some of these manufacturers offer no warnings about using their products. Others, like Get Hypoxic, go to extremes to detail the risks. The company's website states that one of its products, the Death Bar Extension, earned its name because of how risky the mount can be, especially when used in aerial sports. "I called it that hoping people would second-guess themselves," says owner Mark Kirschenbaum. "It's a really stupid product. But there are some applications where it serves a purpose."

GoPro, far and away the dominant maker of action cams, has wisely distanced itself from these products. "We're very conscious about the mounts we sell," says GoPro's Rick Loughery. "A pole coming out of a helmet—we don't sell anything like that because of the potential for accidents."

There's little indication that wearable cameras cause safety problems for most bikers and skiers. But the story changes a bit when you're jumping out of the sky. Over the past three years, the skydiving website Dropzone.com has documented at least 22 accidents, two of them fatal, attributable to the interference of a wearable camera with an essential piece of safety equipment.

"The camera becomes, to some degree, a weapon," says one of the Dropzone site's moderators, Douglas Spotted Eagle. "When a line comes out from a parachute, it's a snag point." Which is why the United States Parachute Association recommends that a skydiver complete a minimum of 200 jumps before even considering strapping on an action cam.

Back on earth, it probably won't be long before ski resorts consider regulations. "As with any new technology, the cameras can create distractions that lead to reckless skiing," says Dave Byrd, of the National Ski Areas Association. "Helmet cams are less of a problem, but we've seen chest-mounted cameras get caught up on chairlift safety bars." In the meantime, the rule of thumb remains the same: use common sense.

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Slush Funds: How to Cash in on Global Warming

There have been plenty of books documenting the myriad ways that climate change will take us all down. In Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (Penguin, $28), Seattle journalist and frequent Outside contributor McKenzie Funk takes a contrarian approach, reporting on the people—and, in the case of Greenland and Canada, countries—that are poised to profit handsomely from the coming chaos. Funk tracks down Arctic oil strategists, Israeli snowmakers, arable-land grabbers, and those cunning enough to privatize public services, from water delivery to firefighting. So is it pragmatism, opportunism, or pure steely greed?

Outside: How did you figure out there were so many people trying to make a buck off global warming?
Funk: In 2010, I read that there was a Canadian military mission asserting the country's claim on the Northwest Passage. My first thought was, That's absurd. Who's afraid of the Canadian military? My second was, Hey, they're looking for an opportunity. The effects of climate change are real, and there's a rush up there in the Arctic. I decided to look at how others are repositioning for the new reality. Some were predictable, like the burgeoning movement in Greenland to attain independence from Denmark, based on revenue from oil under the melting ice. Others were more surprising, like oil companies buying up water rights in the American West for oil and gas extraction.

You write, "There is something crass about profiting off disaster, certainly, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it." Why not? Aren't you a jerk if, like some Wall Street bankers, you buy up Ukrainian farmland from peasants in exchange for vodka?
I found that example the most difficult. Wall Street has its own set of morals. I write about an American investor partnering with a feared warlord in South Sudan to buy land. As a libertarian, he believed in what he was doing beyond just making money. He thought that private investment was more stable than aid. Would I go partner with a warlord so he would burn down the city of Juba to create a libertarian peace? No. But this investor has a poodle, a wife, kids he loves. He was a nice guy. There aren't that many perfect villains in the world.

You note that the same oil companies that created the climate catastrophe will also be the ones to profit from it. That's not very satisfying. Where's the retribution narrative?
Climate change is a moral failing for the rich, but it's a moral failing for the rest of us, too, because we haven't done anything about it. It takes a lot of complacency to build a seawall around New York and let the problems pile up on the other side of the world. We're going to save ourselves first. A lot of us don't have that much to worry about, and that raises the moral stakes. You're screwing someone else if you're American.

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