environment | May 05, 2013

Smithsonian's Most Notable Discoveries: Laurence C. Smith's Arctic Ice Study

With the passing of another Earth Day, Smithsonian Magazine took a moment to reflect on the most notable discoveries made by scientists in the last year. Rounding out the list was environment speaker Laurence C Smith and his recent study on the melting ice around the North Pole, and its effect on international shipping. Climate change has signaled warning alerts to many scientists about the future of our planet. While countless problems are predicted to be caused by the warming planet, Smith has argued that everything associated with climate change will be negative. In fact, the thinner sea ice could allow special reinforced ice-breaking ships to sail directly across the North Pole.

Today, the area around the North Pole is covered by up to 65 feet of ice. By the year 2040, however, Smith predicts that summer months will bring warm enough temperatures to allow certain ships to navigate this passage. The new route will decrease shipping times from North America, Europe, and Asia. In his research and his sweeping talks, Smith explores the struggles—and opportunities—that will accompany the changes our world is set to face over the next 50 years. He shares insight from his book, The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilizations Northern Future, in his presentations. Smith provides us with compelling evidence to show that the world is poised to experience drastic changes, and that we need to be prepared for the future.