Global warming will make cities in northern countries like Canada and Scandinavia the next big global economic powers, a senior academic has predicted.
Rising temperatures will mean that previously frozen natural resources like gas, oil and water will be unlocked just as the rest of the world is facing dramatic shortages.
Professor Laurence Smith, a UCLA professor of geography and of earth and space sciences, claims that sparsely populated parts of world like the northern US, Greenland and Russia will become 'migration magnets' as people flock to the new centres of global power.
‘In many ways, the New North is well positioned for the coming century even as its unique ecosystem is threatened by the linked forces of hydrocarbon development and amplified climate change,’ writes Professor Smith in a new book about the effects of climate change.
Professor Smith also predicts that be 2050 these northern rim countries, which he nicknames NORCs, will become magnets for migration.
He predicts that oil production in Canada will be the second biggest in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, while migration will make its population soar by 30 per cent.
And he says that new shipping lanes will open up in the Arctic ice allowing trade ships to pass directly from the Atlantic to the Far East for the first time.
NORCs will be one of the few places in the world where crop production will increase while these countries will control vast reserves of fresh water which will be sold to other regions.
Professor Smith predicts that China will replace the U.S. as the country with the strongest economy by 2050. The U.S. will drop to second place, followed by India.
In terms of climate change, Professor Smith, an expert in greenhouse gases, concludes that the best-case scenario will be an average 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit rise in temperature by the end of the century. The worst-case scenario would be double that amount.
And he warns that renewable energy sources such as win and solar power will be insufficient to fulfil the world’s energy needs. Instead nations may be forced to turn back to power sources such as coal over water-intensive sources like hydropower as water shortages begin to take effect.
In fact, Professor Smith says that the demand for water in North Africa, the Near East and South Asia is already overtaking supply, and the situation will only get worse.
Worldwide water resources will become so precious that they will be tracked from outer space, possibly within the next decade, he says.
Smith has named 10 'ports of the future' that will benefit from increased Arctic traffic.
These include some familiar names, such as Iceland's Reykjavik and Tromso in Norway as well as more unfamiliar towns like Murmansk in Russia and Nuuk in Greenland.
Professor Smith said: ‘There's a new part of the world that's emerging, with vast continents and a harsh geographical gradient but also resource and immigration bonanzas.
'Humanity will increasingly look north in response to the four global pressures of rising population, resource demand, globalisation and climate change.'
Wildlife will suffer the greatest rate of extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, he writes.
Climate change will push wildlife that manage to survive northward and into higher elevations.
But new megacities in the NORC countries will be mostly immune to the catastrophic changes in the rest of the world.
'In many ways, the stresses that will be very apparent in other parts of the world by 2050 — like coastal inundation, water scarcity, heat waves and violent cities — will be easing or unapparent in northern places,' Smith said.
'The cities that are rising in these NORC countries are amazingly globalised, livable and peaceful.'
He adds: 'It's not that London or L.A. are going to become empty wastelands. Even in 2050, there will be far more people down here than in the north.
'But many northern places that are now marginal or not really thought much about will emerge as very nice places to be.'
Smith is best known for determining the role of climate change in the disappearance of more than a thousand Arctic lakes over the last quarter of the 20th century
He also conducted research on the role of greenhouse gases in precipitating the end of the last Ice Age some 9,000 years ago.
His book, ‘The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future, is to be published on September 23rd.
Background: The New North: Megacities
A number of cities will grow in influence, wealth and power over the next 40 years. These include:
Canada and U.S.:Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Ottawa,
Scandinavia: Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki
Russia: St. Petersburg and Moscow
The Daily Mail