I believe that global warming could make Canada one of the most fertile land areas for agriculture and one of the countries with the most stable climates. So would be realistic that climate change make Canada richer than the United Sates in GDP and standarts of living?

  • $\begingroup$ Aren't there loads of Big Ice Blocks in Canada? I can only imagine the Ice Blocks melting will be worse for Canada than America since the ice blocks are in Canada and not America. That is something for you to look up. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 19, 2022 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ "Global warming could make Canada one of the most fertile land areas for agriculture": you mean, global warming and a few billion tonnes of soil. You forget that Canada was thoroughly glaciated in the not too distant past, and the glaciers scoured the soil clean down to the bedrock. (And anyway, farming accounts for only about 1% of the gross domestic product of the USA, and employs about 2.5% of the workforce. Even if the entire farming sector moved to, I don't know, Brazil, the economy of the USA would be almost unaffected.) (And if you think about it, Siberia would be great competitor!) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 19, 2022 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ Population size disparity makes this unlikely. All things being equal, the more people you have, the wealthier you'll be. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Mar 20, 2022 at 1:33

4 Answers 4


Yes, as long as we choose the right definition of richer, wealthier and standards of living. Also "realistic" by the standards of world building gives us quite a bit of latitude.

Meaning of richer, wealthier and standards of living

You mention GDP, and that is a measure of the whole country such that a country with a higher population of the same people will have a higher GDP. More meaningful would per capita GDP, but this is still flawed. Wealth/income is a highly skewed distribution, in that many people have relatively little money and a few people have loads. Per capita GDP is effectively a mean, and means are very bad ways at describing the position of a skewed distribution. More useful would be a measure such as median purchasing power parity, as in how much stuff can half the population afford. Canada is a much more equal country than the United States (income gini from CIA, Canada = 0.321, USA = 0.470), and is already close to the USA in median income (Canada = \$18,652, USA = $19,306). Considering the politics of the two countries it is realistic to imagine that this will change in Canada's favour over time.

Importance of agriculture to the economy

We do not really know the effect of global warming on the economy, but it is quite possible that food production will be hit by changing weather patterns and environmental degradation. Food is the classic example of a good that has inelastic demand, such that if we all get poorer, and can afford less stuff, we will stop buying new phones and streaming services while maintaining our calorie intake. Agriculture makes up 1.6% of Canada's economy, and only 0.9% of America's. If this becomes more important, and other enterprises become less so or even abandoned completely then this alone will push Canada's wealth higher relative to the US.

Change in land productivity over time

You mention in your question that as the world warms, more of Canada's land may become agriculturally productive. This is true, and may be increased by advances in technology. Much of Canada's tundra and taiga is quite low productivity, having little soil. We may find solutions to this, such as soil manufacture or large scale hydroponic infrastructure. Canada also have very long days during the growing season, which could turn out to be an important feature in determining near future agricultural productivity.

Renewable energy

We hope we will be able to meet the world's energy needs with renewable energy sources, so we do not need to rely on finite reserves of fossil fuels and uranium. We do not know exactly what the mix of renewable resources we will end up using, but Canada is very well positioned to exploit multiple sources. The large areas of sparsely populated land could host many wind turbines, and the enormous coastline is suitable for wave and particularly tidal power. If this becomes a more important input into the worlds economy this could increase Canada's wealth relative to the United States.

All these factors are pushing in the same direction, to help Canada's wealth relative to the US. Together they make it eminanty possible that the median Canadian is significantly better off than the median American in the future.


Not Really

You specified "GDP", not per capita GDP. So I'll answer GDP.

Canada has 12% of the population of the USA.

  • Canada: 38 million
  • USA: 329 million

For Canada GDP to exceed the USA GDP, per capita income of Canadians must be 8.3 times greater than the per capita income of Americans.

  • Per Capita GDP of Canadians is currently 70% of Americans. That would need to change to 830%
  • Canada \$46,500 per person (needs to be \$497,000 to match total USA GDP since the USA has a much larger population)
  • USA \$59,900 per person

Data point: Agriculture in the USA is only about 5% of GDP (source). In other words, shifting ALL agricultural economic activity from the USA to Canada will shift the needle by about 10%. That's about two orders of magnitude too small to achieve the change you are looking for.

Alternately, if you really meant per capita GDP, you can see that such a shift will merely bring the USA and Canada a bit closer to parity.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your 10% difference is extrapolating the present situation for only 1 sector, agriculture. You consider a US economy that won't be affected by the climate disaster in any other way. But 1) food will become scarce and much more profitable for production and 2) many economic activity in the south will be lost, because of land loss (flooding), drought and heat waves, forest fires, storms... and... 3) environmental regulations and energy transition: agriculture will be less vulnerable for heavy CO2 restrictions and expensive energy. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 19, 2022 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Goodies, the question seemed to focus on only one sector, so that's what the answer focuses on. 1) Huge amounts of North American farmland are used for animal feed and biofuel/ethanol production, both fairly easy to reseed for human food production. 2) Direct effects accounted for in that 10% (-5% USA, +5% Canada), indirect effects are guesswork, rather addressed in "two orders of magnitude too small". 3) Poorly-regulated agriculture generates enormous amounts of methane. Fundamentally, it's a poorly-asked question (due to GDP vs Per Capita GDP) with an obvious answer. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 19, 2022 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ To leave out population is a silly premise anyway. Why copy it? And I think you underestimate the issue. The reason Canada will be afflicted less: being up north. Your American agriculture could perish.. Temperature and fire issues. And you're right about (3) that problem is underestimated but it will be overcome by regulations. Methods of agricultural production will have to change, less methane (and nitrogen) will have to be emitted. A manufacturer producing plastic toys, metal alloys, weaponry or cars has issues of a different order. Many American companies are involved in these activities. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 19, 2022 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ While I think the question is a bit unripe, our opinions about the question seem irrelevant. The OP asked what they asked, and the question they asked was easily answerable with real numbers. Perhaps the OP had a very good reason for asking exactly what they asked in the way that they asked it. "Your American agriculture could perish" is included in that 5%, and a source for that number is included. You are welcome to offer better numbers (with source) that meaningfully change the answer of "Not Really". $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 19, 2022 at 20:52

I believe climate change due to global warming will benefit Canada financially in the long term. Not due to agricultural reasons but due to melting of the ARCTIC ice. This melting of ice would affect both shipping routes and easier access to oil/gas reserves. As well as the development of renewable energy farms taking advantage of warmer temperature engineering requirements.

Shipping routes:

  • The Northeast Passage (above Russia),
  • The Northwest Passage (above Canada),
  • The Arctic Bridge (from Canada to North Europe via the bottom of Greenland)
  • And even possibly the Transpolar Route (straight through the pole, Bering Straits to Atlantic Ocean)

Quicker, safer shipping through the Arctic rather than relying on Panama Channel, Suez Channel, Cape Horn (South America) and Cape of Good Hope(South Africa).

Canada could potentially develop numerous ports, other facilities, and associated Import Tarrifs to take advantage of the increased shipping traffic.

Oil/gas exploration:

Self explanatory...until it runs out.

Renewable wind energy:

The newly exposed land previous covered by ice, if not now covered in frigid shallow water, will not necessarily be suited for agricultural purposes (see other answers). However, this land could be utilised to develop extensive wind farms and even solar farms. You also have reduced danger pay to those building and maintaining the various farms.

The Arctic will remain windy! Wind farms would be able to provide wind energy throughout the year. A major impact of warmer temperatures would reduce the engineering and maintenance costs of the turbines as the extreme cold temperatures and effect of ice/snow on the blades and hub heights don't have to be taken into engineering account.

Solar farms would be limited to providing energy during the lighter summer months (but for more hours in those summer days). Potentially all summer energy demands could be obtained from renewables. potentially

Larger amounts of renewable energy used during the summer months could offset Canada's spending/reliance on oil/gas energy. This would allow Canada to negotiate NEW trade treatys that don't rely on oil/gas as a bargaining chip. Allowing them to make better financial deals than their southern neighbours in the USA could make.



At least like in current days approach and economies. We can see that industry and what makes the industry possible aka technologies, research and development is what brings money, if we strike out banking aka making money out of money.

You can look at already existing countries which do export food - grains and meat - those aren't the countries we look at when high standards of living are mentioned. I mean those whos' export is predomiantly those goods.

Technology wise isn't that hard to make some food production in Sahara, what is hard it to make it cheap. I mean, we do have technologies and they are used to grow agrocultures, which is base for food production, in environment which isn't natural or best for those agrocultures. We do it today on considerably large scale, even if it is just percents(or less) of grown stuff total.

Technology on the other hand and capacities derieved from it - it requires many people working, making, thinking, making some abstractor fundamental researsh work etc. Technology is cooperative effort of many people, and to enjoy the level we are used to it requires 100's of million people working together.

It is a reason why a small country can't fly on its own, it can do it only as part of bigger technological circle having their own specialties they are good at if they are allowed to be part of that technologies exchange, products of those technologies exchange.

When one has to pay 5000-10000kg of grains for superflat super slim iPhone 69 -not that many can have good life. Agrarian country can't choose the conditions of a deal, Argentina history can be an example how those land evolve or can evolve. In technology rich system it matters when one is smart - it required to operate technologies, make them and develop them. In agrarian setting it matters much less.

So if they do not become 59th state, the fact some need them to be a food producers and does not need them in any other way it may make their situation worse, and such development may happen willingly in matter of a decade. As part of a bigger system they can do well, not all of them but those who are in that food producing business, for fundamental reason of that technological development has no limits there is always has something to do, there is more stuff to do than there are resources for that, so resource shortages in different ways and forms is the norm(it can take different forms, including attractive ones(like examples of ppl making good money), and it changes over time as well, as result of many factors) Food production is more stable thing, small prooducers have their problems for a reason, but big ones do well enough, and their future is brigth/predictable enough, until people stop eating.

All in all take look at existing countries, what you imagine already exists, so did it exist in the past, but days when a country could be rich just by cows and grains long past.


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