The world's population is exploding, wild species are vanishing, our environment is degrading, and the costs of resources from oil to water are going nowhere but up. So what kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren? Geoscientist and Guggenheim fellow Laurence Smith draws on the latest global modeling research to construct a sweeping thought experiment on what our world will be like in 2050. The result is both good news and bad: Eight nations of the Arctic Rim (including the United States) will become increasingly prosperous, powerful, and politically stable, while those closer to the equator will face water shortages, aging populations, and crowded megacities sapped by the rising costs of energy and coastal flooding.
The World in 2050 combines the lessons of geography and history with state-of-the-art model projections and analytical data—everything from climate dynamics and resource stocks to age distributions and economic growth projections. But Smith offers more than a compendium of statistics and studies—he spent fifteen months traveling the Arctic Rim, collecting stories and insights that resonate throughout the book. It is an approach much like Jared Diamond took in Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, a work of geoscientific investigation rich in the appreciation of human diversity.
Packed with stunning photographs, original maps, and informative tables, this is the most authoritative, balanced, and compelling account available of the world of challenges and opportunities that we will leave for our children.
"[The World in 2050] is a lively and impressive book, among the first in what promises to be an important publishing category, the explication of how the human landscape will be altered by artificially triggered climate change."
-Wall Street Journal
"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, including tales of numerous visits to the Arctic."
"One of the most head-turning books I've ever come across recently."
-Thomas PM Barnett, World Politics Review
"A charismatic rising star vividly relates the big challenges facing the world."
-Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse
"This is a blockbuster of clear argument, sophisticated use of multiple empirical sources, and cogent writing that makes a convincing case for the emergence of the deep Global North as the main beneficiary of emerging climatic and economic trends. Intelligently discussing the future requires exactly the balance of discerning empirical analysis and wise interpretive judgment to be found here."
-John Agnew, Professor of Geography UC, Los Angeles
Prologue Flying into Fort McMurray
Chapter 1 Martell’s Hairy Prize
PART ONE: THE PUSH
Chapter 2 A Tail of Teeming Cities
Chapter 3 Iron, Oil, and Wind
Chapter 4California Browning, Shanghai Drowning
PART TWO: THE PULL
Chapter 5 Two Weddings and a Computer Model
Chapter 6 One if by Land, Two if by Sea
Chapter 7 The Third Wave
Chapter 8 Good-bye Harpoon, Hello Briefcase
PART THREE: ALTERNATE ENDINGS
Chapter 9 The Pentagon Report
Chapter 10 The New North