The World in 2050

Laurence C. Smith

Laurence C. Smith


Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future

(Note: United Kingdom editions of this book are titled THE NEW NORTH: The World in 2050)

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Global forces are creating The New North

This book, winner of the Walter P. Kistler Book Award and a Nature Editor’s Pick, presents a balanced, science-based, politically neutral based projection of what the world may look like by the mid-21st century, should current global trends in (1) population demographics, (2) resource demand, (3) economic globalization, and (4) climate change continue their current trajectories. The first part of the book (“The Push”) identifies key global pressures and trends, for example in urbanization, population aging, energy technology, water supply, immigration, and the rising economies of China, India and sub-Saharan Africa. The second part (“The Pull”) describes the emergence of “The New North”, a coherent geographical bloc comprised of Canada, the northern United States, Greenland/Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Federation (coined the Northern Rim Countries or NORCs). These eight northern countries and their surrounding seas will experience profound transformation in the coming decades, making the Northern Rim a place of rising human activity and global strategic value relative to today.


“A lively and impressive book.”
-Wall Street Journal

“A convincing portrayal of the future”
-The Guardian

“One of the most head-turning books I’ve ever come across recently.”
-Thomas PM Barnett, World Politics Review

“Cleverly executed.”
-Mother Jones

“Smith’s planetary palm-reading would be impressive enough, but he also managed to pull it off with literary gusto. He combines a wide-angle-lens analysis reminiscent of Jared Diamond with a knack for narrative.”
-New Scientist

“A charismatic rising star vividly relates the big challenges facing the world.”
-Jared Diamond
Author of the Pulitzer Prize winner Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and Upheaval

“Smith is a major new writer on the new geography of the 21st century. He is as fluent and
insightful in discussing political power, cultural nuance, and ethical dilemmas as he is in
analysing climate models and economic forecasts.”
-Fred Pearce, SEED Magazine

“Laurence C. Smith’s book on the future works precisely because he avoids
both the temptations of fear and of unbridled optimism.”
-Toronto Globe and Mail

“It’s refreshing to read a book that avoids the twin dangers of exaggeration and wishful thinking…it’s wonderful.”
-Geographical (Book of the Month)

“Tomorrow at the Top of the World”
-The Economist

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About the Author

Laurence C. Smith is the John Atwater and Diana Nelson University Professor of Environmental Studies and Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University. Previously, he was Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, and on NPR, CBC Radio, and BBC, among others. He is a frequent keynote speaker and has been invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos three times. His first book, The World in 2050 won the Walter P. Kistler Book Award and was a Nature Editor’s Pick of 2012. His second book Rivers of Power, about how civilization depends on rivers, was released in 2020 and was a GEOGRAPHICAL Best Book of 2020.

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