Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change research is globally skewed

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
The supply of climate change knowledge is biased towards richer countries - those that pollute the most and are least vulnerable to climate change – and skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world. That creates a global imbalance between the countries in need of knowledge and those that build it. This could have implications for the quality of the political decisions countries and regions make to prevent and adapt to climate change, warn experts.

Climate change research, shown here by number of publications, primarily concerns countries that are less vulnerable to climate change and have a higher emission of CO2. The countries are also politically stable, less corrupt, and have a higher investment in education and research.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Copenhagen

The supply of climate change knowledge is biased towards richer countries -- those that pollute the most and are least vulnerable to climate change -- and skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world. That creates a global imbalance between the countries in need of knowledge and those that build it. This could have implications for the quality of the political decisions countries and regions make to prevent and adapt to climate change, warn the researchers behind the study from the University of Copenhagen.

"80 % of all the climate articles we examined were published by researchers from developed countries, although these countries only account for 18 % of the world's population. That is of concern because the need for climate research is vital in developing countries. It could have political and societal consequences if there are regional shortages of climate scientists and research to support and provide contextually relevant advice for policy makers in developing countries," says Professor Niels Strange from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, which is supported by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Climate change research, shown here by number of publications, primarily concerns countries that are less vulnerable to climate change and have a higher emission of CO2. The countries are also politically stable, less corrupt, and have a higher investment in education and research.

Together with PhD student Maya Pasgaard from the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen, Niels Strange analysed over 15,000 scientific papers on climate research from 197 countries. The analysis clearly shows that the research is biased towards countries that are wealthier, better educated, more stable and less corrupt, emit the most carbon, and are less vulnerable to climate change.

As an example, the study shows that almost 30 % of the total number of publications concerns the United States of America, Canada and China, while India is the only highly vulnerable country in the top 10 list. However, Greenland and small island states like the Seychelles and the Maldives that are generally considered vulnerable, also find their way into the top 10 list if it is calculated per capita.

The content of climate studies is also skewed

The study shows that not only the authorship, but also the choice of topic in climate research, is geographically skewed:

Articles from Europe and North America are more often biased towards issues of climate change mitigation, such as emission reductions, compared with articles from the southern hemisphere. In contrast, climate research from Africa and South and Latin America deals more with issues of climate change adaptation and impacts such as droughts and diseases compared to Europe.

"The tendency is a geographical bias where climate knowledge is produced mainly in the northern hemisphere, while the most vulnerable countries are found in the southern hemisphere. The challenge for the scientific community is to improve cooperation and knowledge sharing across geographical and cultural barriers, but also between practitioners and academics. Ultimately, it will require financial support and political will, if we as a society are to address this imbalance in the fight against climate change," says Maya Pasgaard. The study was recently published online in the journal Global Environmental Change.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Pasgaard, N. Strange. A quantitative analysis of the causes of the global climate change research distribution. Global Environmental Change, 2013; 23 (6): 1684 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.08.013

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Climate change research is globally skewed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122091736.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2014, January 22). Climate change research is globally skewed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122091736.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Climate change research is globally skewed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122091736.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins