environment | March 20, 2013

Laurence C. Smith: The Arctic Is Melting—What's That Mean For The Economy?

The Arctic is set to become "much more accessible than ever imagined," environment speaker Laurence C. Smith predicts in a new report. The work of the UCLA professor, and his co-writer Scott R. Stephenson, has been making headlines in the media—most recently in Maclean's and The Ottawa Citizen. The piqued interest in their findings is all for good reason: The report suggests that our changing climate could potentially redefine global shipping routes in the north. The two scientists used climate change forecasting models to map out new shipping routes through The Northwest Passage in Canada, The Northern Sea Route in Russia, and even across the North Pole itself. The increased navigability of these passages is due in part to the melting of Arctic sea ice. This summer, the ice shrank to its lowest recorded level.

As the author of The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilizations Northern Future, Smith has studied the changing Arctic in great depth. The Arctic, Smith says, will fundamentally change if our climate continues on its current path, something he's documented in over sixty different research papers. In his book, his research, and his all-encompassing keynotes, Smith shares a realistic, yet surprisingly optimistic, view of the changing landscape. "The development is both exciting from an economic development point of view and worrisome in terms of safety, both for the Arctic environment and for the ships themselves," Smith says in The Ottawa Citizen. As one of the most respected voices on climate change, Smith has advised the United Nations and Congress, and appears regularly in major media to describe what the future has in store—and how to prepare for it, today.