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How often do you hear anyone make the obvious point global warming will be good for Canada?

Arctic scientist Laurence C. Smith makes this logical argument in his new book, The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future.

Smith, a professor of geography and earth and space sciences at UCLA who has done extensive research on the negative impacts of climate change, nonetheless predicts Canada, Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland), Russia and the northern U.S. will all become economic powerhouses and immigration magnets due to global warming over the next 40 years.

Among the benefits, Smith said in an interview with UCLA Newsroom promoting his book, to be released Sept. 23:

(1) Global warming will free up previously inaccessible deposits of oil, gas, water and other natural resources at a time when they are becoming increasingly scarce everywhere else in the world.

(2) Canada’s oil resources will be second only to Saudi Arabia’s and economically invaluable, since wind, solar and hydrogen technologies still won’t be able to meet the world’s energy needs.

(3) Canada’s population will increase by more than 30%, a growth rate rivalling India’s.

(4) Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will significantly increase in size and global prominence.

(5) Canada’s crop production will likely increase, one of the few places on Earth where this will occur.

(6) The “northern rim countries” (NORCS), including Canada, will constitute the world’s fourth-largest economy, with highly-coveted reserves of fresh water, which can be sold or transported to other regions.

(7) The opening of new shipping lanes in the Arctic during the summer will make the 500-year-old dream of a direct trade route between the Far East and the Atlantic a reality.

(8) Canada’s northern aboriginal communities will benefit economically.

“In many ways, the New North (including Canada) 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,” Smith writes.

“(T)he 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, who analyzes the global impacts of a growing and aging population, dwindling natural resources and increasing globalism and economic integration in addition to climate change, is no Pollyanna about global warming.

His best-known previous work identified the role of climate change in the disappearance of more than 1,000 Arctic lakes over the last quarter of the 20th century.

What’s significant about his work for Canadians is it goes beyond the “world is ending” hysteria we so often hear from politicians, environmentalists and media, whose “solution” to climate change is for us to undermine our economy and ship billions of dollars to the developing world, for reasons that are never made entirely clear.

In the real world, if the climate is warming, there are positive implications for Canada, as well as negative ones, and our response has to be intelligent, not stupid.

Indeed, if the Arctic is going to become much more economically valuable due to climate change, and if that will lead to massive immigration, we had better be able to enforce our sovereignty over it and get our immigration and refugee systems under control.

Starting now.

Ottawa Sun, 8 September 2010