In forty years, the world will be a very different than it is now: the population will be about 50% greater, climate change will be in full swing, and the increasing prosperity of Asia and Africa will create voracious markets for natural resources. So, given the turbulence ahead, what kind of world is likely to emerge? Smith, a UCLA geography professor, uses the latest research and computer models to attempt to answer this question.
He focuses particularly on what he refers to as the NORCs (Northern Rim Countries) – Scandinavia, Canada, the Northern U.S. and Russia. Climate change could actually open up these areas to greater settlement and resource extraction, thus causing them to become much more important geopolitically. Smith envisions a world where swarms of ships crisscross the Arctic Ocean as it turns ice free every summer. He envisions huge cities sprouting up north of the Arctic Circle. He imagines immense pipelines shipping northern water resources to an increasingly thirsty south.
It is impossible to be certain how many of these predictions will come true. But Smith always supports his theories with plenty of figures and footnotes, and he also makes sure to always keep things highly readable and engaging.