*The World in 2050*

The author is Laurence C. Smith and the subtitle is Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future

This book is excellent on at least two questions:

1. Which environmental problems remain real, even taking into account the dynamic adjustment properties of markets?

2. Why the northern countries will grow in economic and political importance over the next forty years.


Extraction industries will favor projects nearer the water.  Looking ahead, our northern future is one of diminishing access by land, but rising access by sea.  For many remote interior landscapes, the perhaps surprising prospect I see is reduced human presence and their return to a wilder state.

My main criticism of this book is that it does not direct enough criticism at government water subsidies and their role in worsening this environmental problem. 

Here is the book's rather non-Hayekian close:

No doubt we humans will survive anything, even if polar bears and Arctic cod do not.  Perhaps we could support nine hundred billion if we choose a world with no large animals, pod apartments, genetically engineered to algae to eat, and desalinized toilet water to drink.  Or perhaps nine hundred million if we choose a wilder planet, generously restocked with the creatures of our design.  To be, the more important question is not of capacity but of desire: What kind of world do we want?

Definitely worth the read.  I don't agree with everything here, but this is a book (very well-written by the way) which should be making a splash.  For the pointer I thank a loyal MR commentator.


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