Friday, September 10, 2010

Does Laurence C. Smtih envision "polar cities" for survivors of global warming-caused climate chaos in future times? Ask him.

American geography professor Laurence Smith spent 15 months traveling the
Northern Rim and other parts of the world to find out what our future will look like. He visited remote
Arctic villages, lived on a Canadian icebreaker, interviewed lumberjacks, diamond miners, seamen,
and government officials, and even met his future wife in the Finnish Lapland along the way [COOL! and ROMANTIC!].

IN 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future
is Smith’s comprehensive and balanced vision of our
future — and surprisingly, the news isn’t all bad. While he does not mention polar cities per se, and never talks about such a scenario, if you read between the lines it might occur to you that "polar cities" are part of his vision, too. Even he does not know it, yet!

I plan to interview Dr Smith on this blog to discuss:

1. Why does he think the Northern Rim (the United States, Canada, Iceland, Greenland (Denmark), Norway,
Sweden, Finland and Russia) will become a key region in the 21st century, a place that will
experience steeper climate changes, rising strategic value, and greater human activity than today. And he can imagine "polar cities" as part of the future scenarios?

2. In the geopolitical race for the Arctic Ocean, why does he think Russia has a special right to the North Pole. And will Russia build their own "polar city" settlements for survivors of climate chaos in future times?

3. Does you think, Larry, that California's thirsty desert cities will survive, but that its famously abundant agriculture may not and why, and what this means for the Lower 48 as mass migrations north to polar cities in Alaska and Canada get going in future times?

4. Why do you think there a surprising political rise of northern Aboriginal (capital A please!) peoples in North America but not
Europe and Asia?

5. What do you think, Lary, about some possible wild cards that can affect our future: polar cities (, AGW-caused climate chaos, abrupt climate change, rapid sea levels rise,
north-to-south water sales, and collapse of global economic integration.

THE WORLD IN 2050 offers long-term
thinking, original illustrations and maps, model simulations, and photographs — Smith’s account of his
personal experiences, and those of the people he meets, resonate throughout the book, making this an
extraordinarily human work of scientific investigation. Still, he has not addressed the issue of "polar cities" to house future survivors of climate chaos? Why not? Why is he blinded to this possibility? Fear? Denial? I will ask him.

-- Dan Bloom
Tufts 1971
Director, Polar Cities Project


Anonymous said...

Could the twenty-first century see the decline of the southwestern
United States and European Mediterranean, but the ascent of the northern United States,
Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia?

In his new book, THE WORLD IN
Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future (On Sale: September 23, 2010), UCLA geoscientist

and Guggenheim fellow Laurence C. Smith shows how and why the north has become

increasingly vital to global human survival and prosperity.

Smith’s sweeping vision of what the world might look like in forty years’ time is

assembled from his comprehensive – and balanced – analysis of four

DEMOGRAPHY- World population and prosperity continue to grow. We

are projected to hit 7 billion in 2011 and surpass 9 billion by 2050.

NATURAL RESOURCES- Global modernization and urbanization will require more natural

resources than the earth currently provides humanity.

GLOBALIZATION- The world economy is increasingly interconnected and interdependent.

CLIMATE CHANGE- Global average temperatures will continue to trend upward—and more than

twice as fast in the northernmost latitudes.

2050: Four Forces

global forces:

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 wildernesses on Earth, abundant water and energy resources,

milder winters, immigrant-friendly cultures, and be the most desirable place to emigrate and

work. These and other factors explain why the population of Canada, for example, should rise

more than 30% by 2050 – a rate of growth rivaling India. From temperatures to water supply,

from safe cities to gross domestic product, our planet’s livability is moving from south to north.

The first half of THE WORLD IN 2050 identifies key global pressures and trends

in world population, resource demand, energy technology, and globalization. The second

half describes the emergence of a new "Northern Rim", composed of the northern United

States, Canada, Greenland/Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian

Federation. These northern countries (collectively called the “NORCs”) and surrounding seas

will experience enormous changes over the next 40 years, making the Northern Rim a place of

rising human and biological activity, economic power, and global strategic importance relative to


To obtain this window into our future, Smith blends the lessons of history and geography

with rigorous, state-of-the-art model projections and analytical data—everything from climate

dynamics and resource depletion rates to population ages and economic growth forecasts. But

Smith offers more than a compendium of statistics and studies—he also spent fifteen months

traveling the world gathering personal experiences, insights, and interviews. Together with

stunning original photographs and maps, these stories resonate throughout the book, making

THE WORLD IN 2050 an extraordinary appreciation of the world’s human and natural


Through broad synthesis and multiple lines of argument, Smith shows that our current

paths will inevitably lead to hyper-population and declining quality of life in many parts of the

world, yet rising growth and prosperity to others. THE WORLD IN 2050 rediscovers the vast

potential of the north and its critical importance to our global future.


About the Author
Laurence C. Smith is vice chairman and professor of geography and

and space sciences at UCLA. He has briefed Congress on the likely

climate change. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, who he met in Finland on his travels, drinking water

hundreds of miles away.

professor of earth

impacts of northern

imported from

Anonymous said...

Did You Know?

Since 2008 the majority of humans live in cities for the first time in history. Most
of us have no substantive ability to feed or clothe ourselves. We depend upon
technology, trade, and commerce to carry out the most primitive of functions.

Even the most optimistic growth scenarios for renewable wind and solar
technologies show they alone cannot satisfy global energy demand by 2050. As
the world’s last great oil fields enter decline we will increasingly turn to natural
gas – and to Russia.

Human demographics and economic growth represent an even bigger challenge
to the global water supply than does climate change. Even if our climate change
problems could disappear, we would still face enormous challenges to water
supply in some of the hottest, most crowded places on Earth. It has become
fashionable to declare water the “next oil,” over which the world is bracing to go
to war in the twenty-first century.

All around the world there are animals, plants, fish, and insects creeping to
higher latitudes and elevations. On average, plants and animals are shifting their
ranges about six kilometers toward the poles, and six meters higher in elevation,
every decade. Imagine your lawn crawling north, away from your house, at a
speed of five and one-half feet each day.

Globalizing, immigrant-friendly Canada now has one of the fastest-growing
populations in the world, with a growth rate much higher than China and rivaling
that of India. Its tar sands may hold 175 billion barrels of oil, the second-largest
endowment on earth after Saudi Arabia.

Compared with other places, habitat loss and pollution are less severe in Alaska,
northern Canada, the Nordic countries, and eastern Russia, where vast boreal
forests, tundra, and mountains hold some of the wildest and least-disturbed
places left on Earth.

The Arctic could hold up to one-fourth of the last undiscovered hydrocarbons
remaining on Earth. Will there be a new race for the vast riches of untapped

oil and gas thought to lie beneath the frigid seafloor of the Arctic Ocean?



Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future

By Laurence C. Smith

Anonymous said...

THE WORLD IN 2050 describes:

- ''POLAR CITIES'' for survivors of future climate chaos, althought the text does not mention the term per se, one must read between the lines, but it's there, and Larry knows it, but such things do not sell books. Sigh.

- The rapid rise of the world's new megacities... and the two paths they might take (e.g. Singapore vs. Lagos)

- The mass migration of life forms to higher latitudes and elevations - and even hybridization between southern and northern species - that is already underway

- Why competition for global immigrants will spell success or failure for many developed countries by 2050

- Current contrasts in human age structure that will produce startling shifts in the world's workforce by 2050 - for example Mexico's shrinking migrant worker pool to the United States

- The little-noticed battle between energy and water

- Why California's thirsty desert cities will survive, but its famously abundant agriculture may not

- How the world will begin tracking its water resources from space - even across sovereign country borders - in as soon as ten years

- Why sizzling growth in wind and solar power technology still won't satisfy our global energy needs by 2050.

- Why the world will increasingly turn to Russia for natural gas - the world's next great fossil fuel - if we're lucky.

- The unique "Arctic Amplification" of climate change that makes the northern high latitudes the fastest-warming place on Earth (2 - 3 times global average)...especially in winter.

- Why new shipping will spread across the Arctic Ocean - but not the kind imagined and dreamed about for the past five centuries.

- Why Canada has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, with a growth rate six times greater than China and rivaling that of India.

- How Canada may hold 175 billion barrels of (unconventional) oil, the second-largest endowment of petroleum on earth (after Saudi Arabia) -- with a catch.

- The geopolitical race for the Arctic Ocean, and why Russia may have a special claim to the North Pole

- Why globalization, resources, demographics, and climate change portend the rise of a northern maritime economy but abandonment of remote continental interiors

- How the indelible stamp of the U.S. military, Josef Stalin, and energy companies will shape the coming expansion of human activity around the Northern Rim.

- The surprising power resurgence of northern aboriginal peoples in the United States, Canada, and Greenland -- but not in Scandinavia and Russia.

- Some possible wild cards of abrupt climate change, rapid sea level rise, north-to-south water sales, and collapse of our great global economic integration...

- A coherent vision of "The New North" - and its vital integration and importance to all of us - by 2050

Anonymous said...

Global warming's silver lining: Northern countries will thrive, grow

Downside: in future times of climate chaos, polar cities will be needed for survivors of global warming, but that would not be good to discuss in a book, would it. So it's just a subtext, if you read between the lines. Larry knows this, but he aint talking...

As global pressures mount, the New North is well-positioned to prosper economically in the 21st century, UCLA author says
By Meg Sullivan September 03, 2010 Category: Research

Laurence C. SmithMove over, Sunbelt. The New North is coming through, a UCLA geographer predicts in a new book.

As worldwide population increases by 40 percent over the next 40 years, sparsely populated Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and the northern United States will become formidable economic powers and migration magnets, Laurence C. Smith writes in "The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future" (Dutton Books), scheduled for publication Sept. 23.

While wreaking havoc on the environment, global warming will liberate a treasure trove of oil, gas, water and other natural resources previously locked in the frozen north, enriching residents and attracting newcomers, according to Smith. And these resources will pour from northern rim countries — or NORCs, as Smith calls them — precisely at a time when natural resources elsewhere are becoming critically depleted, making them all the more valuable.

"In many ways, the New North is well positioned for the coming century even as its unique ecosystem is threatened by the linked forces of hydrocarbon development and amplified climate change," writes Smith, a UCLA professor of geography and of earth and space sciences.

Other tantalizing predictions:
•New shipping lanes will open during the summer in the Arctic, allowing Europe to realize its 500-year-old dream of direct trade between the Atlantic and the Far East, and resulting in new access to and economic development in the north.
•Oil resources in Canada will be second only to those in Saudi Arabia, and the country's population will swell by more than 30 percent, a growth rate rivaling India's and six times faster than China's.
•NORCs will be among the few place on Earth where crop production will likely increase due to climate change.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Professor Smith didn’t comment on how Canada will defend its sovereignty in the face of this change. As Gwynne Dyer has written, the dynamic of global change is that each nation’s greatest threat is that country that lies immediately between it and the equator.

With America’s freshwater crisis looming and the prospect of millions of internally displaced citizens due to sea level rise it will become very difficult for them to allow Canada to remain independent.

Anonymous said...

Canada is well positioned to profit from global warming. We will have oil resources that rival those of Saudi Arabia and fresh water reserves that will be the envy of the world; the Northwest Passage will be open, making new sea trade between Europe and Asia possible. But at what cost would we benefit from these things? The devastating environmental effects and long-term detriments caused by climate change may make relatively short-term economic prosperity and increased political power a small consolation.

But hey, when has the human race ever fallen victim to the lure of money and power?