world in 2050 | February 15, 2012

Laurence C. Smith: In a Warming World, Will the North Dominate?

“Everyone wants to predict the future, but Laurence Smith actually does.” -Los Angeles Times

UCLA geoscientist Laurence C. Smith talks about why, in the next forty years, the north will become increasingly vital to global survival and economic prosperity. The Guggenheim Fellow's critically lauded book, The World in 2050, provides a bracing analysis of four major forces—demography, natural resources, globalization, and climate change—that will dictate what kind of world we'll see by mid-century. Smith is one of the first to put particular focus on how northern nations, perhaps counter-intuitively, will fare incredibly well in this new world made warmer by climate change.

From the The World in 2050's publisher:

Smith's core argument is that these four global forces put unprecedented pressure on the world to expand north. The planet's northern quarter of latitude, he concludes, will in many ways become more pleasant, prosperous, stable and powerful as a result of these pressures. It will possess the largest remaining wilderness on Earth, abundant water and energy resources, milder winters, immigrant-friendly cultures, and be the most desirable place to emigrate and work.

Places like Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia are sitting on areas of land that currently can’t be navigated—but, as these strategically important and previously remote shipping routes open up, these countries may reap a greater prosperity if they plan accordingly. Other countries, in the southern climes, should take note too, as relations with these countries will become more vital than ever.

These conclusions don't come from a crystal ball, but from Smith's meticulous statistical analyses, studies, state-of-the-art model projections, lessons from history and geography, and fact-gathering travels around the globe. In his vibrant talks, Smith synthesizes his far-ranging insights and presents corporations, governments, and interested universities with a clear outline of the challenges they face—and the opportunities to be seized—in the decades ahead.