The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future

Front Cover
Penguin, Sep 23, 2010 - Science - 336 pages
A vivid forecast of our planet in the year 2050 by a rising star in geoscience, distilling cutting-edge research into four global forces: demographic trends, natural resource demand, climate change, and globalization.

The world's population is exploding, wild species are vanishing, our environment is degrading, and the costs of resources from oil to water are going nowhere but up. So what kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren? Geoscientist and Guggenheim fellow Laurence Smith draws on the latest global modeling research to construct a sweeping thought experiment on what our world will be like in 2050. The result is both good news and bad: Eight nations of the Arctic Rim (including the United States) will become increasingly prosperous, powerful, and politically stable, while those closer to the equator will face water shortages, aging populations, and crowded megacities sapped by the rising costs of energy and coastal flooding.

The World in 2050 combines the lessons of geography and history with state-of-the-art model projections and analytical data-everything from climate dynamics and resource stocks to age distributions and economic growth projections. But Smith offers more than a compendium of statistics and studies- he spent fifteen months traveling the Arctic Rim, collecting stories and insights that resonate throughout the book. It is an approach much like Jared Diamond took in Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, a work of geoscientific investigation rich in the appreciation of human diversity.

Packed with stunning photographs, original maps, and informative tables, this is the most authoritative, balanced, and compelling account available of the world of challenges and opportunities that we will leave for our children.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Chicalicious - LibraryThing

What kind of world will we be living in by 2050? Will we be able to keep up with a growing world population and seemingly diminishing resources? Laurence C. Smith is a geographer and a professor at ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - VisibleGhost - LibraryThing

Smith, a UCLA geographer, has written an informative work on the present and near future prospects of countries above the 45th Parallel. Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland ... Read full review


The Thought Experiment
The Rules
What Kind of Cities Will They Be?
Shifting Economic Power
I See Old People
Are We Running Out of Resources?
What About Oil?
Running on Moonshine and Wood
The FiveCentury Dream
Dream On
On Shaky Grounds
Ice Road Suckers
The First Waves
The Uneven Cold
The Coastal and Lowland Imperative
Stalins Plan and the US Occupation of Canada

Was Jack Lemmons Oscar a Setback for the United States?
The Holy Trinity
Natural Gas versus the Dirty Temptation
Our Most Necessary Resource
Rainmaker Land Baker
Which Is Worse?
Drinking Sh
The Information Revolution
Wars over Water?
The Virtual Water Trade
Death of a Giant
Oil and Water Truly Dont Mix
The Great TwentyfirstCentury Drought?
Risky Business
Nonreturnable Containers
Into the Sea
Imagining 2050
Uncapping an Ocean
Ice Reflects Oceans Absorb
Dr Smith Goes to Washington
The Siberian Curse
The New Arrivals
The Displaced
Hunters on Thin Ice
Greenlands Fine Potatoes
Who Owns the North Pole?
War in the Arctic?
The Rule of Law
Stalins Gulag
Contrasting Patterns of Settlement
New Hydrocarbon Cities
The Third Wave
Something Old Is New Again
Pay Dirt
The New Cascadians
The Friendly Globalizers
Acceptance of Global Immigrants
Imagining 2050
Aboriginal Demographics
Out of Alaska
Greenland Rules
The Unfair Geography of Aboriginal Power
President Keskitalos Argument
The Sámi Situation
The Mi8 Time Machine
Imagining 2050
The Evolution of Climate Models
The Flickering Switch
The Pentagon Report
Genie in the Ice
Genie in the Ground
Globalization Reversal
Dragon Swallows Bear
Blue Oil

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Laurence C. Smith earned his PhD at Cornell University, and is now professor and vice-chairman of geography and earth space sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles where he also lives.

Bibliographic information