x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Northern exposure

It's grim up north but it might be all we've got, according to the geographer Laurence C Smith. He used a combination of computer modelling and gum shoe journalism to pull together a bleak vision of the future.

The World in 2050
Laurence C Smith
Dutton
Dh116

It's grim up north but it might be all we've got, according to the geographer Laurence C Smith. He used a combination of computer modelling and gum shoe journalism to pull together a bleak vision of the future. His analysis involves four key components: demographic trends, demand for natural resources, climate change and globalisation. And he spent over a year travelling the globe to witness change for himself.

Smith's point that melting sea ice in the Arctic will allow further exploitation of oil and other resources is a familiar one, but he also notes that rising temperatures and sea levels may force many humans to head north anyway. He identifies eight countries - the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland - that are likely to benefit from climate change, thanks to their location, forward planning and infrastructure. A host of new boomtowns are predicted, such as the burgeoning Fort McMurray in Canada's oil plains.

Even so, will we really enjoy life in the north "if climate warming causes Februaries in Churchill, Manitoba, to warm-up to Februaries in Minneapolis"?

Perhaps we're about to find out.