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

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  404 ratings  ·  61 reviews
"The World in 2050 is a compelling portrait of the future and vividly relates the big challenges facing the world now."
-Jared Diamond, author of Collapse


The world's population is exploding, wild species are vanishing, and our environment is degrading. What kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren? Just who will flourish-and who will fail-in our evol...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Plume (first published September 23rd 2010)
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Jenny williams
In all honesty, this book almost made me more scared than anything. I'm not saying it's a bad book because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the points he made and some of the facts he highlighted throughout the novel were absolutely astonishing. Laurence Smith is correct in 100% of this novel and he did it the easy way; with facts. The entire book reiterates the point of the world that we are going to leave behind for our children and grandchildren which is a chilling visual. The way that he pai...more
Dan Needles
I had to read a lot of books to get past the political drama of today, trying to get a glimpse of what tomorrow will look like. Everyone these days needs to be an extremist to have their voice heard. So the airways are clogged with Fox and MSNBC and all things marketing and sales, not substance. Like an ecosystem under stress there is more thorns, pollen and other environmental shrapnel than any grounded data in this genre. That said, this book is an exception.

Not only do they stick a stake in t...more
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The World In 2050 Four Forces Shaping Civilizations Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

Laurence C. Smith is a geographer. He studies climate change in the arctic. This book is about much more than climate change. It is about how the arctic is changing. This change is fueling a race for new resources in oil, natural gas, fisheries, mining, shipping, and open land.

In the beginning of the book, he focuses on four forces that bring change to the world; demographics, climate change, natural resource...more
Heather
What will the world be like in 2050? There's no science fiction here. This is a book of solid projections from major global trends written by a scientist.

Author Laurence Smith engages in a thought experiment: what will the world be like in 2050? He makes 4 assumptions upon which his predictions are contingent. 1) No Silver Bullets - no radical game changing technology (ex. cold fusion). 2) No World War III. 3) No Hidden Genies - no low probability, high-impact events (ex. a large meteorite impa...more
anthony
Presents the argument that climate change, population growth and natural resource depletion will drive populations and economic development north towards the Arctic Circle. As opposed to many 'futurists' this is not a one-dimensional attempt to align predictions with an ideological agenda. Instead, the author carefully statues his assumptions "The models are good enough.", "No magic bullets." and then identifies the factors which are likely to have the most impact.

"Nuanced" is probably overused...more
Bob Gustafson
The proverb says that you can't tell a book by its cover. This is a counter example. This book is about what the northern hemisphere of the world will look like in 2050. Jared Diamond's endorsement is exactly correct. If you are interested in the topic, this book will tell you everything that you need to know and little else. (That is why I gave it five stars.) If you aren't interested, there is no point in opening the book. (That is why I was tempted to give it only four stars.) There is very l...more
Caren
I probably won't still be around in 2050, but my children and grandchildren should be. The author of this book, a professor of geography at UCLA, sets up his speculations with strictly scientific parameters. He calls his musings a "thought experiment" and considers four global forces that may influence our future world: 1) demography (He speaks of Demographic Transition, in which moderization of a society decreases death rates faster than it decreases fertility rates. Eventually the two balance,...more
David Mcphee
Smith writes ‘More hydro carbon development risks not just local damages to northern eco systems but global damages through still more green house gases released’. He writes of the northern residents enduring the likelihood, not inevitability, of milder winters, more rain less snow likening February in Churchill becoming more like a February in Minneapolis. For the people in the south (Prince George and south) change could be more severe. He uses the analogy of choosing the reality 'red pill' or...more
Celestial Elf
What kind of world in 2050?
This book takes the form of a thought experiment propelled by the four global forces, of demography, natural resource demand, globalization, and climate change, plus a fifth — of enduring legal frameworks — and follows ground rules as stated in the opening chapter: That this study shall not be subject too Sudden Silver Bullets (incremental and unforeseeable advances in technology), World War III - no radical reshuffling of our geopolitics and laws (although in my own v...more
Michael
The author gives an excellent overview of the challenges and opportunities offered by the Arctic and Subarctic seas and countries as we move to the mid-century mark. He sees four global forces affecting the NORCs (Northern Rim Countries) and their waterways: demography; demands on the natural resources, services, and gene pool of the planet; globalization; and climate change. He does a good job of explaining the complex interactions among these forces and projecting the near future in a daring t...more
Corey Koppel
Corey Koppel – 1B
Good Reads
According to Laurence Smith, in his book The World in 2050, The world of today will be drastically different in a mere forty years from now. The time frame may seem short but Smith makes a point that the book does not humor ‘what if” possibilities such as a global catastrophe or world war III. Instead Laurence examines the growing trends of globalization, population growth, environmental impact, resource pressure, and a number of other topics and their impact on the f...more
David
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Will
It's a good book, and refreshingly free of hysteria. It's written by a scientist, and it shows up in the detailed command of facts and statistics available. If anything, it's a little too detailed -- the author will state his thesis exactly once, and then bury you under so many facts that you wonder by the end what his thesis was. In the end, I had to remind myself every so often of the overall themes by reading the dust jacket.

Still, if there's anything to get from this, it's that a) water wars...more
Martin
Smith argues that the combined trends in demography, natural resource use, globalisation and climate change, as well as urbanisation will crucially change the world by 2050. Without any wild cards such as a change in the global thermohaline circulation system, huge land-based melting of ice, carbon emissions from thawing of the permafrost, which will affect the whole world dearly, the likely new winners will be the Northern Rim countries (NORCs), with Russia being a bit of an outlier. Sure loser...more
Lisa
Oct 06, 2012 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
It was good, Very eye opening. There is so much consuming and waste in the world it makes you sick! We need to find (and use) more alternatives to oil, gas and power. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own busy lives that they don't think about the future, the Big picture. How are our children and grandchildren going to live if we use up all the resources and ruin the earth with our greed? Everyone is so used to having everything all the time, it doesn't hurt to conserve a little for later use o...more
ɑƨħŵɑɡ ♥Team Magnus Damora FOREVER♥
I have a secret love for these environmental studies. So I couldn't help myself with reading this one.

This book is an analytical and predictive study of how our world, the southern part in particular, would look like after 38 years. Smith suggested that there a four main forces that makes us in constant change: Globalization, Natural Resources Demand, Climate Change and Demography. In this predictive study, Smith represented some really interesting points, and sometimes they're scary too. I was...more
Morgan Plant
Jan 16, 2011 Morgan Plant is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am about 2/3rds of the way through and find this well done, readable and scary. Laurence Smith is a geologist who teaches at UCLA and has done extensive field work. He limits his focus to four years -- demographics, scarcity of resources to support increasing population growth, globalization and climate change. I have learned a lot about energy and am determined to finish this, even though the stack next to my bed keeps growing.

Addendum: Finished it last night and have a new appreciation for...more
Troy
At first I didn't realize that this book was so focused on the Northern latitudes, but it actually did make for a very interesting book. Most "climate change" books comment on the arctic, but this one went into great detail and will give you a better insight into how the future of the arctic might look. An interesting read if you are into the environment and climate change.
Kristin
I picked up this book after hearing an interesting and impressive talk by the author at a geophysics conference (AGU 2013).

Academic in tone, but easy to follow and stay interested.

Keanu Steel
The way Laurence C. Smith provided me with scary facts really worried me and made me realize the real truth about our world. I like the fact that it opened my eyes up to a whole new prospective on how our world is changing and what is to come of it. It's interesting to know what the world will be like in 2050, I would recommend the book to everyone because I believe everyone should understand and be aware of what's going on.
Vern Harrison
It was an interesting take. I have read several other books on one or more of the "Global Trends" But what I liked about this book - is tying them all together. "Four Global Forces: Demographic Trends, Natural Resource Demand, Climate Change, and Globalization." All I can say - I am glad my kids live in Canada. We surrendered our rights to set a national energy policy under NAFTA (Thanks Brian) But so far we have not surrendered our rights to water. Legal precedence is something we will need to...more
Brian
ugh. i used to like books like this, but this was really just boring, too much info that i don't really care about. just say "we are most likely screwed, individuals can't make a huge difference - it is up to corporations and governments. specifically, the united states as a trendsetter."

done.
Alessandro
i love the way to write of the American scientist. They do not look for complicate words and periods like the Italians one and they are not boring like the italian scientist. the book talks about the climate change and it impacts on the economy and way of live of the northern countries. data and model of the possible change are well explains and understandable. sometime it repeats the same idea in the different chapters but this helps the reader to avoid to lose them self in the complicate data...more
Cary Neeper
Excellent projection from current data without exaggeration--a reference for the sequel to The Webs of Varok
Mark Thuell
Fasinating book written by a scientist.Final section tailed off a bit repeating points.He changed my understanding of the world bringing the probable future into sharp focus.A book to reread in a decades time
Enzo
Mind-blowing. Smith takes broad long term trends - population growth , resource usage, globalization and climate change and spins these out 40 years. He weaves the 4 trends together into shocking, yet totally plausible scenarios. He doesn't focus much on how to prevent a lot of the negative consequences. Rather he projects out what the world will look like when the trends are allowed to play out - who the relative winners and losers will be. Very thought - provoking.

Margaret Sankey
Speculative geography, in which the author posits that in 2050, due to climate change and technology demands, the most dominant countries will be around the Arctic circle, but because of demography, political instability and rising seas, the only one really able to capitalize on it will be Canada. If there isn't a Vancouver-filmed, cheap SyFy series about the world as ruled by futuristic Inuktitut-speaking hockey goons, there damn well should be.
Brandon Baggett
After reading this book, I came to the realization that this person's "thought project" wasn't nearly as researched as it could have been. It focuses on the effects of climate change to the northern world, but most of the climate changes proposed in this book are exaggerated. It seems that his studies are just based off of overblown fears that have been occurring for thousands of years.
Luis Orozco
This book raised significant interest here in Finland, and it is not difficult to see why. Reminds me a lot of Joel Diamond's work (for good or bad) without the hysteria. You can see it started as a climate change study that turned into an exercise in geopolitical prospection. You might or might not agree with its future scenarios, but it was an interesting and not too heavy read.
Emil
An interesting read, especially the first 2/3s. A semi-rigorous, but not overly academic review of 4 key forces that Smith sees driving the evolution of our world and our societies over the next 40 years. I felt that the last couple of chapters kind of petered out - too repetitive, with a few too many recountings of long lists of tiny arctic aboriginal tribes
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Dr. Laurence C. Smith is Professor and Vice-Chair of Geography and Professor of Earth & Space Sciences at UCLA. His research interest include topics of northern hydrology, climate change, carbon cycles and satellite remote sensing.

His book THE WORLD IN 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future (Plume: New York, 2011; U.K. edition titled THE NEW NORTH, Profile: London, 2011 with...more
More about Laurence C. Smith...
Nature of Human Feelings with Exercises in Intimacy El mundo en 2050: Las cuatro fuerzas que determinarán el futuro de la civilización The New North

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“In my own city of Los Angeles, everyone will gladly pay a hundred dollars a month for cable television, yet would roar in protest if forced to pay that much for life’s elixir piped directly into their homes. When Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of drought emergency, I studied my water bill closely for the first time in my life. For two months of clean drinking water, snared from faraway sources, and delivered to my house by one of the world’s most expensive and elaborate engineering schemes, I was charged $20.67. I spend more on postage stamps.

If only everyone could indulge such ignorant bliss…”
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“What makes coming home so jarring, compared to other returns from other exotic places—―isn't simply culture shock. It's human shock, seeing so many people again after dwelling in a place so empty of them.” 1 likes
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