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The New North : The World in 2050 by Laurence C. Smith

The New North : The World in 2050

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Sue Baker's view...

March 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.

There are many predictions on the likely future for the earth, the outcome of global warming, the political upheaval and so on. Here Smith predicts that there will be a Northern shift in emphasis and the Northern rim countries from Canada to Russia (with the UK on the fringe) will become increasingly important in the future. The author puts flesh on the bones of his theories from his own extensive travels in the region. This gives the book a deeper range adding personal observations to the hypothesis. So much writing on the future planet scenario makes for grim reading and while Smith doesn’t pull his punches, there is the human story, people trying to adapt to a very different future, paving a way for the new North.

The Magnetic North: Travels in the Arctic Circle, Sara Wheeler
True North: Travels in Arctic Europe, Gavin Franci

The Lovereading view...

Explores the 'four locomotives' that are changing the world - climate change, rising population, globalisation and resource depletion - and attempts to predict how they will shape the world between now and 2050. This book is about people, and the 'push' and 'pull' factors that determine where and how they live.

Who is Sue Baker

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The New North : The World in 2050 by Laurence C. Smith

The world in 2050 will be radically different from today. Northern countries - notably Canada, Russia and Scandinavia - will rise at the expense of southern ones. Places like New Zealand, Argentina and interior Brazil will also be winners. Patterns of human migration will be dramatically altered - and where we are born will be crucial. The New North explores the 'four locomotives' that are changing the world - climate change, rising population, globalisation and resource depletion - and attempts to predict how they will shape the world between now and 2050. It is a book about people, and the 'push' and 'pull' factors that determine where and how they live. In particular, it examines the countries of the far north - Scandinavia, Canada, Greenland, etc - which stand to gain from the changes underway. The book is not a doomsday script. All of human history is a story of adaptation and change, in response to our environment and to each other. Despite our booming numbers we are healthier, safer, better fed, more knowledgeable, and less violent than ever before. The population boom is slowing, our prosperity generally rising. And as our coastlines inundate and the deserts encroach, there will be new homelands for us throughout the high latitudes and high altitudes, places currently marginal for human existence. Who will benefit? Who will suffer? Current migration trends - to Florida and the drought-stricken American southwest, towards vulnerable low-lying coasts, into Asian megacities atop subsiding deltas - will go into reverse. Instead, we will turn north, where the tragic loss of unique ecosystems will be countered by rising biological production, stable water supplies, warmer winters, rising food stocks, and new shipping access throughout the region. These physical benefits intertwine crucially with human ones, like abundant cheap land, stable governance and legal systems, new oil discoveries, the end of indigenous land-claims, and rising global markets for energy, raw materials, and food.


'A charismatic rising star vividly relates the big challenges facing the world' - Jared Diamond

About the Author

Laurence C. Smith

Laurence C. Smith is professor and vice-chairman of geography and professor of earth and space sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published more than fifty research papers, in journals such as Science and Nature and in 2006 he briefed Congress on the likely impacts of northern climate change.His work has been covered in the LA Times, National Geographic, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Time Magazine and NPR among others.

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Book Info

Publication date

10th March 2011


Laurence C. Smith

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Profile Books Ltd


336 pages


The Real World
Books of the Month
Popular Science
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Political geography
Social forecasting, future studies



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