• Laurence C. Smith
    Professor of Geography and Earth & Space Sciences, UCLA; Author,The World in 2050: Four Fources Shaping Civilization's Northern Future

  • These maps illustrate my vision of "The New North" - eight countries and surrounding seas in the planet's northern quarter of latitude - that will enter a period of rising biological productivity and global strategic value in the 21st century. The New North will emerge as a new geographic and economic region alongside the more familiar Global North ("Core") and Global South ("Periphery") in the next few decades. The first map shows "The Northern Rim" as viewed from North America, and includes population density, human infrastructure, anticipated resource deposits, and a quiltwork of overlapping political claims to the Arctic Ocean seafloor. The second map illustrates the onslaught of shipping that invades the Arctic each summer, as the seasonal sea ice retreats. In the 21st century, with sea ice expected to disappear completely in summer, such human activity will only intensify.