Waterworld

Wall Street gets into the flood-prevention business.

FIO02 bihar

The rains came in the winter. And in the spring and summer. Almost certainly, they will come, hard, in the fall. This year Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin have been wetter than ever before; Australia, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have severely flooded; in New Zealand the rainfall is four times the usual. And all this before hurricane season, when a violent and rising sea will surely push well past several breakwaters.

What to do about the persistent floods? One answer is coming from investors, who are no longer viewing extreme weather as a possibility, but an inevitability. Both Citigroup and Deutsche Bank have published comprehensive reports, detailing how their clients might benefit from investing in climate change. Among the sectors they identify that stand to benefit most: transportation and infrastructure -- the transport of people, the movement of water, the means of keeping back the sea. The World Bank estimates up to 1 billion climate refugees in the next century (it also recommends that threatened farmers raise ducks, which float, rather than chickens, which do not). The displaced must move, but to where? India is currently building an eight-foot-high wall -- the longest in the world -- along its border with Bangladesh to keep its neighbor's climate refugees out. Greenland's Department of Ice and Water, meanwhile, is looking to export its icebergs. The Dutch have a long history of keeping back rising tides and are already exporting such knowledge through the firm Arcadis, which in 2009 presented a $6.5 billion plan to build a modular 6,000-foot wall across New York Harbor. The plan was prescient: Nearly three years later Hurricane Sandy happened. The company now has contracts in New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco, and revenue was up 26% last year. For some, a changing climate will be a boon.

Photographer Gideon Mendel has been documenting floods around the world for some time now. The project in his words:

"Since 2007 I have been working on Drowning World, a long-term global project about flooding as my way of responding to climate change. I frequently follow my subjects returning through deep waters, making the photographs at the remains of their homes. I choose to shoot on film, using old Rolleiflex cameras. My images have been made in eight different countries around the world: The UK, India, Haiti, Pakistan, Australia, Thailand, Nigeria and Germany."

His photos follow.


  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated August 20 2013 10:27 AM ET
Join the Conversation
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.