- Scientific knowledge generated about climate change is geographically imbalanced and biased, according study.
- Researchers found that developed countries, as well as India and China, produce most of the scientific knowledge on climate change, while developing countries in hotter parts of the world, where climate change effects are expected to be some of the highest, produce very little.
- The study also found that climate change research that does focus on developing countries, is dominated by authors based in developed countries, and often lacks locally-based authors.
Climate change publications are geographically imbalanced, according to a recent study published in Global Environmental Change.
Researchers from Denmark and Brazil analyzed over 15,000 scientific publications on climate change published between 1999 and 2010, and found that developed countries such as United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and Sweden, as well as two developing BRICS countries — China and India — produce most of the scientific publications on climate change.
In contrast, many developing countries in hotter parts of the world, where climate change effects are expected to be some of the highest, produce very little scientific knowledge on the topic, researchers found.
“We demonstrate that the case country publication bias is towards richer, cooler and less vulnerable countries, with high carbon emissions, with stronger institutions and more press freedom,” the authors write.
Such disconnected production and flow of knowledge on climate change between poor vulnerable regions and richer regions “may imperil the integration of locally generated knowledge to provide contextually relevant advice,” they add.
The study also found that climate change research that does focus on developing and vulnerable countries, is dominated by authors and co-authors based in developed countries, and often lacks locally-based authors.
For instance, climate change publications that focus on countries like the Republic of Congo and North Korea do not have any locally based authors or co-authors, the researchers found. In many African countries too, less than 20 percent of the publications on climate change have locally based authors. On the other hand, over 80 percent of climate change publications focusing on developed countries like the U.S., have locally based first authors, they found.
“Without locally generated knowledge, it is more challenging to provide and integrate contextually relevant advice, and this leaves a critical gap in the climate policy debates,” lead-author Maya Pasgaard of the University of Copenhagen, said in a statement. “This is particularly worrying as we are dealing with countries likely to experience severe climatic changes and that are most sensitive to its detrimental impacts.”
Increased collaborations are key, the study notes, to mitigate the impacts of climate change across the world.
“Cross-border collaborations are not just highly relevant scientifically, but also rewarding on a personal level, as cultural knowledge exchange becomes an integrated part of the collaboration” Pasgaard said in the statement.
- Pasgaard M, Dalsgaard B, Maruyama PK, Sandel B, Strange N (2015) Geographical imbalances and divides in the scientific production of climate change knowledge. Global Environmental Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.09.018