The New North: The World in 2050

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Profile, 2011 - Climatic changes - 322 pages
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The New North explores the four forces 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.

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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.
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About the author (2011)

Laurence C. Smith is professor and vice-chairman of geography and professor of earth and space sciences at the University of California. 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.

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