- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Adult (September 23, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525951814
- ISBN-13: 978-0525951810
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future Hardcover – September 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Smith, a UCLA geography professor, explores megatrends through computer model projections to describe "with reasonable scientific credibility, what our world might look like in forty years' time, should things continue as they are now." Laying out "ground rules" for himself--including an assumption of incremental advances rather than big technology breakthroughs and no accounting for "hidden genies" such as a decades-long depression or meteorite impact--he identifies four global forces likely to determine our future: human population growth and migration; growing demand for control over such natural resource "services" as photosynthesis and bee pollination; globalization; and climate change. He sees the "New North" as "something like America in 1803, just after the Louisiana Purchase... harsh, dangerous, and ecologically fragile." Aside from his observations of "a profound return of autonomy and dignity to many aboriginal people" through increasing political power and integration into the global economy, Smith's predictions, limited by his conservative rules, are far from earthshaking, and suspending his rules for a chapter, he admits that "the physics of sliding glaciers and ice sheet collapses" as well as melting permafrost methane release are beyond current models, and that even globalization could reverse, with "political genies even harder to anticipate than permafrost ones."
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How will civilization change over the next 40 years if humanity balloons to nine billion, sea level rises by a foot and atmospheric temperature by several degrees, and globalization continues apace? From those assumptions, Smith, a university-employed geophysicist, posits answers with a focus on the Arctic Ocean and its coastline. Familiar with the Far North through scientific field trips, Smith embeds personal observations into his predictions about the effects of boreal warming. Becoming more accessible to ships, Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska, and Canada will experience a raw-materials bonanza, with oil, natural gas, minerals, and water resources likely to be exploited as permafrost melts and summer sea ice recedes. Festooned with data, his discussions of such prospects valuably avoid either environmental or industrial advocacy and lay a factual foundation for his readers to learn how demographic and economic trends in the world’s southerly population belts might influence development of the Arctic. Concluding with a half-dozen events that could upset his forecast, Smith exhibits trend-spotting skill in this readable account of the Arctic frontier. --Gilbert Taylor
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Top customer reviews
Now here is the negative part, though negative is too strong of a word. This would be more aptly titled "The North in 2050," as the northern states such as the NORC countries are the primary focus of the book and his predictions. He sets up global forces such as demography, climate change, resources, and globalization (the push) and combines them with what is happening in the north (the pull) to predict how we will transition north. I believe all his predictions are fairly accurate as I mention above and I strongly believe this kind of specialization is needed in predictions... now it just needs to be combined with the rest of the world. I can completely understand why he takes this tack, as the Northern latitudes are his academic baby, so it is what he sees in the world and sees it as the most important. Luckily, his insight and passion (combined with his wit and writing style) add greatly to our knowledge and understanding. It just means that the book doesn't accomplish the breadth it advertises though it benefits from its depth.
Overall, you WILL learn something (or really a lot of something) from this book and appreciate the work he has put in. It adds to the discussion in a realistic and logical manner and breaks down a complicated subject. It will open your eyes to the north and get you thinking. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the future, the north, or just for a good academic read about where our world could be headed. Well done Mr. Smith!
Helps to understand the forces that motivate our world, its politics, its people and national self interest.
Read in conjunction with Friedman's "The next 100 years" these books project a very likely scenario for near and long term events that will evolve and influence our world over the next 50 to 100 years.
Knowledge is power and it is better to have a plan for the future based on the very best information available in the present.
These books provide an informed compass to help us anticipate the future that our children will inherit.
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