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The New North Hardcover – 10 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; 1st Edition edition (10 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688768
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A charismatic rising star vividly relates the big challenges facing the world (Jared Diamond)

Smith's planetary palm-reading would be impressive enough but he also manages to pull it off with literary gusto. He combines a wide-angle-lens analysis reminiscent of Jared Diamond with a knack for narrative, including tales of numerous visits to the Arctic. (New Scientist)

The best new geography book of the year (Fred Pearce)

a lively and impressive book (Wall Street Journal)

'One of the most head-turning books I've ever come across recently.' (World Politics Review)

It's refreshing to read a book that avoids the twin dangers of exaggeration and wishful thinking. The New North is such a book, and it's wonderful. [...] This is an outstanding book. (Jonathan Wright Geographical Review)

Smith spent many months exploring and talking to residents in remote Arctic towns and writing their personal stories, and the result is this fascinating book. (Press Association)

Let those who disagree come forward and make a different case. There is a lot for us to do in the meantime. (Sir Crispin Tickell Financial Times)

[Smith's] new book The New North: The World in 2050, demonstrates a remarkable knack for divining global megatrends from the stuff of daily life. It seems this is a man to whom the world whispers its secrets. (Jake Wallis Simons The Times)

[The New North] raise[s] urgent questions about the type of world we want to live in. (PD Smith Guardian)

A consistently challenging and mind-opening exercise in futurology (John Gray New Statesman)

As a geophysicist concerned with the responses of Arctic water, soil and ice to changing climates, Smith has extensive personal and academic knowledge of these regions. He seems to have travelled all over the Arctic world, and here he offers a vivid portrayal of the physical, economic and cultural upheavals the whole Norc region is undergoing. He is as good on the developments in First Peoples' politics as he is on the practicalities of ice roads and natural gas trans-shipment. He documents his accounts very informatively and his footnotes are a treat: comprehensive and thoroughly interdisciplinary. (THES)

For a geographer whose career is dedicated to finding out how massive population growth, and depletion of mineral and water resources will transform the planet, Lawrence Smith comes across as a remarkably chirpy guy. Partly it's his engaging prose. Partly it's his quirky anecdotes of everyday life as a popular scientist: getting chatted up by an oceanographer on a Canadian ice breaker or, while interviewing Sami reindeer herders, falling for the Finnish interpreter he later married. (Evening Standard)

Rather than contribute yet another volume to the already bloated genre of Eskimo-Woe, [Smith] set out to construct a more three-dimensional overview of what the future might hold for the countries of the north - which, by his definition, means everything above the line of 45 degrees North. The result is a thoughtful, plausible and entirely unmelodramatic read. (Scotland on Sunday)

This is "an informed thought experiment" rather than a proper prediction. But for anyone curious about the new north-let alone anyone thinking of investing in Arctic derivatives-it is an intrinsic exercise. (Economist)

The essential backgrounder for the coming era in which temperate civilisation moves north into the previous frozen tundra and boreal forest. Smith marshals his material brilliantly. (Independent Books of the Year)

Book Description

A book which literally turns the world upside down. The world in 2050 will be radically different from today; Northern countries - notably Canada, Russia and Scandinavia - will rise at the expense of southern ones. Patterns of human migration will change dramatically - and where we are born will more crucial than ever before. But humans are adaptable: there will be gains as a new world takes shape.

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Customer Reviews

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Ellingham on 24 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This must be the best geography book in a very long time - a really compelling study of the world in 2050 - and of the emergence of a new region, comprising the Arctic zones of North America, Scandinavia and Russia. I was hooked by both these themes, for Laurence Smith writes in a similar, compelling vein to his UCLA colleague, Jared Diamond. He gets his knowledge across very much story-first, beginning with the extraordinary tale of a pizzly - a grizzly bear-polar bear hybrid, and a sign, perhaps of the reality of encroaching climate change. And Smith is a wonderful forager of stats and tables, which he presents with jaw dropping clarity. The growth of megacities (10m plus population), for example, from three in 1975 to 19 today, to 27 projected by 2025. Or the ageing world population, particularly in countries like Japan (already with a median at 44.6 years), but also in places you don't expect like India, where today's median is 25 years but is set to rise to 38 by 2050. There are a lot more of these fascinating projections in The New North. And a lot of legwork, talking to people across the Arctic regions. A highly recommended book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By readmore on 23 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book about science, environment, economics and geopolitics. The author identifies four `mega-trends': climate change; the battle for resources (not just the obvious ones like oil and water but also minerals like copper, silver, indium (used in LCD screens and semiconductors) and nickel; demographics (especially aging populations in the developed countries) and globalisation. But although many places (especially those nearer the equator including California where the author lives) have an uneasy future it's not all doom and gloom. Some countries, he suggests, might even benefit. These are what Prof Smith calls the `Northern Rim' countries - Northern America, Canada, and Russia, Scandinavia - the NORCs for short. Their cities will grow and attract migrants (it's too bad that some of them seem to be among the most dismal places on earth). There's been a lot of discussion the BRICs recently (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as the countries with the most dynamic future. So it's interesting to see that Russia appears in both lists, although it has its own particular problems.
Professor Smith's writing style is really compelling: there's a huge amount of data in the book, but despite the academic rigour that's not overwhelming because he tells some great personal stories too (having travelled in the region for 15 months). Above all it's a book about humans, and how we adapt to the changing world. Although I wouldn't say that the book turns the world upside down (as the blurb says), it certainly gives you an entirely new perspective on a part of the world I knew little about.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thomas King on 15 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The World in 2050" offers a highly readable and well-developed -- but perhaps somewhat conservative -- look at how global civilization will evolve over the next four decades. The book goes beyond simply attempting to predict the impact of climate change, and integrates four primary forces into its projections: (1) demographics, (2) natural resource demand, (3) climate change and (4) globalization.

One of the central thrusts of the book is that people, agriculture, and geopolitical power will migrate northward, largely in response to the impact of climate change and resource depletion. The populations of countries like Canada, Iceland and Norway are all projected to grow by over 20%, while global population will reach just over 9 billion. People will increasingly live in cities and will be older and wealthier.

As might be expected, water and energy are predicted to play vital roles. Smith offers a relatively optimistic take on potential conflicts over water, suggesting that they will be resolved peaceably, rather than degrading into war. Cities will win out over agriculture in the competition for water, and some regions will be maintained purely through global trade and the import of "virtual water" via grain. We will remain highly dependent on fossil fuels, but the energy economy will be more of a mix, with heavy use of natural gas and electric (or hybrid plug in) cars.

One of the most interesting sections covers "alternate endings" and considers issues such as a reversal of globalization, carbon release from the thawing tundra, or a well-developed global water trade.

My primary criticism of the book is its assumption (laid out clearly in the beginning), that technological advance will be "incremental.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MattyB101 on 16 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
A very enjoyable read that surprises you in it's ability to keep you turning that page. Very familiar American humour and story telling throughout. You can feel the passion and commitment in every page and Laurence Smith is unbelievably thorough in his research and stats. This is an expensive read but if your interests lie in Geopolitics, Human geography and Climate change then it is also a must read.
I purchased the kindle version and it was excellently formatted but some of the tables of stats were impossible to read and the maps unfortunately were too small to gain anything from. So if you're serious about this book, then it's best to fork out the extra money and get the real thing.
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