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The New North

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The New North

The World in 2050

Profile Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

As the world warms up, what happens to the Great White North?

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Professor of geography Laurence C. Smith makes a fine oracle. His ambitious, candid and accessible book predicts what the world will be like in 2050. He’s well-poised to make climate predictions, since he combines academic training with firsthand observations in the far north. He translates dense academic data into common language and – perhaps most importantly for a hotly debated topic like climate change – he’s clear on what science knows and what it doesn’t know. Smith optimistically voices the hope that humanity can correct its current course, but he doesn’t give many specific suggestions for what the reader might do to slow the pending upheaval. His study and projections range from shifts in agriculture to the likelihood of armed conflict and new national boundaries. getAbstract recommends Smith’s forecast about the impact of the great thaw to those interested in science and the results of global warming, and to those planning ahead for changes in worldwide resources and markets.


Four Shifts that Will Change the World

In 2006, an American hunter legally shot a bear in Canada. The bear was odd; it looked like a polar bear, but it had brown markings and a flat face. It was a hybrid: half polar bear, half grizzly. This “pizzly” bear is a sign of how much global warming is changing the world. Climate change is driving species from their habitats. Wild animals are moving to new places and staying long enough to breed. Is this a sign of things to come? How will global warming and other sweeping trends reshape the world? To answer, first assume that the planet won’t suffer any catastrophic accidents, like getting hit by a meteor, or any global tragedies, like nuclear war. Second, assume that no truly disruptive technologies will arise, since technology is the wild card that could affect any of the “four global forces” that will shape the new world of 2050:

  1. Demographics – Demography studies how the human population settles, changes and moves. Two main demographic trends will shape the future: overall population growth and the “Demographic Transition” – that is, the way birthrates drop in many cultures as industrialization increases...

About the Author

Laurence C. Smith teaches space studies, earth studies and geography at UCLA. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2006-2007.

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    V. M. 6 years ago
    The book for those who are preparing for the end of the world is not recommended for particularly sensitive

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