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Best geography book in a very long time
on 24 March 2011
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.