Laurence C. Smith writes in “The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future” (Dutton Books), scheduled for publication Sept. 23. 2010.
While wreaking havoc on the environment, global warming will liberate a treasure trove of oil, gas, water and other natural resources previously locked in the frozen north, enriching residents and attracting newcomers, according to Smith. And these resources will pour from northern rim countries — or NORCs, as Smith calls them — precisely at a time when natural resources elsewhere are becoming critically depleted, making them all the more valuable.
* New shipping lanes will open during the summer in the Arctic, allowing Europe to realize its 500-year-old dream of direct trade between the Atlantic and the Far East, and resulting in new access to and economic development in the north.
* Oil resources in Canada will be second only to those in Saudi Arabia, and the country’s population will swell by more than 30 percent (up to about 50 million), a growth rate rivaling India’s and six times faster than China’s.
* NORCs will be among the few place on Earth where crop production will likely increase due to climate change.
* NORCs collectively will constitute the fourth largest economy in the world, behind the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the European Union and the United States.
* NORCs will become the envy of the world for their reserves of fresh water, which may be sold and transported to other regions