Oh noes! Richer countries get more climate research than poorer more vulnerable regions of the world

That darn wealth distribution is affecting who has money for climate research. “The results show that the supply of climate change knowledge is biased toward richer countries.”. Can the begging be any more transparent? Oh, the pain!

Climate change research is globally skewed

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.

 

Photo: CIAT International Center for Tropical AgriculturePhoto: CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture

“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 takes place in and 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. Click for larger image. 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.

Link to the scientific article.

A quantitative analysis of the causes of the global climate change research distribution

M. Pasgaard, N. Strange


Highlights

• Distribution of climate change knowledge and its causes is investigated.

• The supply of knowledge is biased toward the richer and less vulnerable countries.

• The production of knowledge is likewise biased away from poorer, vulnerable regions.

• Across regions, different knowledge domains within climate change dominate.

• The imbalanced distribution of knowledge affects adaptation and policymaking.


Abstract

During the last decades of growing scientific, political and public attention to global climate change, it has become increasingly clear that the present and projected impacts from climate change, and the ability adapt to the these changes, are not evenly distributed across the globe. This paper investigates whether the need for knowledge on climate changes in the most vulnerable regions of the world is met by the supply of knowledge measured by scientific research publications from the last decade.

A quantitative analysis of more than 15,000 scientific publications from 197 countries investigates the distribution of climate change research and the potential causes of this distribution. More than 13 explanatory variables representing vulnerability, geographical, demographical, economical and institutional indicators are included in the analysis. The results show that the supply of climate change knowledge is biased toward richer countries, which are more stable and less corrupt, have higher school enrolment and expenditures on research and development, emit more carbon and are less vulnerable to climate change. Similarly, the production of knowledge, analyzed by author affiliations, is skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world.

A quantitative keywords analysis of all publications shows that different knowledge domains and research themes dominate across regions, reflecting the divergent global concerns in relation to climate change. In general, research on climate change in more developed countries tend to focus on mitigation aspects, while in developing countries issues of adaptation and human or social impacts (droughts and diseases) dominate. Based on these findings, this paper discusses the gap between the supply of and need for climate change knowledge, the potential causes and constraints behind the imbalanced distribution of knowledge, and its implications for adaptation and policymaking.

h/t to Matti H. Virtanen

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54 Responses to Oh noes! Richer countries get more climate research than poorer more vulnerable regions of the world

  1. Chris B says:

    Perhaps Skepticalscience.com can post a request for volunteer climate “scientists” wishing to expatriate themselves to countries who haven’t had the benefit of their research?

    I can suggest a few.

  2. R Taylor says:

    Easy fix: Slash the budgets for voodoo studies in rich countries.

  3. M Courtney says:

    This paper seems like a good call to me.
    Research should focus on adaptation rather than mitigation. Weather will happen anyway.

    And the costs and impacts will fall hardest on the poor so the research should take place where the poor are. Where else? A computer model?
    I like these ideas and think there is something of value here.

  4. michael hart says:

    “The results show that the supply of climate change knowledge is biased toward richer countries.”

    Maybe. But the supply of climate change ignorance is even more skewed toward richer countries.

  5. Robert Wykoff says:

    Anthony, I think this article need a size 72 font bold and flashing “barf alert” across the top. One thing I found amusing was the statement that rich countries “pollute” the most. I have been to 33 countries, most of which are in the 3rd world, and there is nothing remotely clean or pure about poverty, heck, take a stroll through a poor area in a rich city in the US, and see how unpolluted it is.

  6. steveta_uk says:

    Research shows that more people go to university in countries that have more universities.

    Who’d a guessed it?

  7. YEP says:

    “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.”

    Seems sensible of them (developing regions that is) considering that they can do nothing to mitigate climate change even if it were a real danger. Lomborg has been arguing for adaptation strategies too and he’s a public enemy in green circles.

  8. Robert Austin says:

    We need a “peer reviewed” study to tell us that there is more science conducted in first world countries? I am sure that these deprived countries can find at least one literate citizen to read the definitive and unassailable IPCC reports to obtain full knowledge of the Earth’s climate workings. Or maybe the first world could “donate” their climate scientists to the third world. After all, the science is settled, the work of our climate scientists is done, so we don’t need them any more. (/sarc)

  9. D.J. Hawkins says:

    So rich countries go for the solutions, (CCS, “carbon taxes”) that will price themselves out of manufacturing on a global basis, pushing their per capita GDP’s downslope toward Third World status, while poor countries husband their resources and aim to adapt if needed. I’m beginning to detect an “intelligence supply bias” here as well…

  10. Box of Rocks says:

    So?

    Just another call for the wealthier countries to give money to poor countries so their leaders can skim 20% off the top and keep enjoying their luxury.

    Mind boggling…..

  11. Mike Sweny says:

    Perhaps they come from the richer countries and study the richer countries because that is where the money is. I for one would love to see most of these so called climate scientists repatriate themselves to the “underserved” countries. But then who would pay them for their “wisdom”? I suspect the third world countries have much more important things to do with their money than spend it on fiction.

  12. cynical_scientist says:

    Clearly an emergency aid program is urgently needed to relocate climate scientists to all the poorest parts of the world.

  13. arthur4563 says:

    A rather remarkably bizarre view of what scientists do, or are suppossed to do : understand
    how climate behaves. Didn’t know there were regional truths.

  14. A call for increased waste?

  15. “Richer countries get more climate research than poorer more vulnerable regions of the world”
    ————-
    The warmunists want the misery shared evenly.

    More fair doncha know.

  16. irregular says:

    Yeah, sure. So there has to be more global warming where the global warming chicken littles are. That’s like saying there’s more crime where the cops are, and more sickness where the doctors are. Go fish.

  17. Poorer countries are lucky. Their politicians can’t waste as much money on climate change.

  18. Tim says:

    Climate change = 1st world problem

  19. Ric Werme says:

    We should also study war-torn countries. Send the Team to Syria.

  20. Russ R. says:

    If Thermageddon prognosticators cared about the “poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world”, they would start a “Fear-mongers without borders” program to equalize the access to their valuable services. But they don’t want to work in areas, that have historical competition from witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, mystics, and all other manner of divination. Their models don’t have the same entertainment value as a good seance. So obviously, they don’t care about the poor. They just want to avoid, being included in that category.

  21. mpcraig says:

    I’ve also read that richer countries have more wealth. But that was a conservative blog so it must be false.

  22. DirkH says:

    “M. Pasgaard, N. Strange”
    Provided by University of Copenhagen
    probably a Maya Pasgaard, Copenhagen
    “Education and research:
    During my education I was schooled within the natural sciences, but I have adopted an interdisciplinary approach by adding more social and economically minded courses. My key research competencies range from design, implementation and analysis of qualitative fieldwork to more quantitative analyses of production and exchange of scientific knowledge. I highly value dissemination and communication aspects of research, be it through written papers, presentations and seminars, media sources or exchange visits.

    Competencies:
    I am independent in my work and at the same time enjoy the mutual benefits of working in diverse environments to bring academic and practical fields and levels together. I am engaged, systematic and structured, and I also appreciate innovation and flexibility. I can organize and coordinate projects and events from individual assignments to workshops and larger seminars. I like to take initiative and develop ideas in teams, and I strive to continuously expand my skills. I master various types of communication, ranging from scientific articles, oral presentations and teaching to interactive web based platforms.

    Personal:
    I am a positive and curious spirit and I strive to contribute both on practical and social levels. I am active in sports and culture, which I enjoy with friends and family. I greatly enjoy traveling the world – private and work related – to gain new perspectives and broaden my horizon.”
    Person with a large carbon footprint.
    http://dk.linkedin.com/pub/maya-pasgaard/34/147/110
    N. Strange: Probably a Niels Strange
    http://macroecology.ku.dk/people/?obvius_proxy_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.bio.ku.dk%2Fcms%2Fmacroecology-staff.asp#2
    “I direct the European Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management (www.sufonama.net). My main personal research interests focus on environmental planning and economics under uncertainty. In particular on climate change and environmental effects. I am also involved in a number of research projects concerning payments for environmental services, landowner behaviour and contract design, multi-criteria analysis, environmental economics, spatial planning under risk of calamities, and agent-based modelling. In my research and teaching career I have strived to mix my competences within quantitative as well as qualitative methods.”

    Typical EU rent-seekers.

  23. TomRude says:

    Yes let’s ensure that poorer countries spend more money on computer simulations about climate change… That should help their population.

  24. Svend Ferdinandsen says:

    I concider these countries lucky. They can then use all the money to the damages from weather instead of using them to wave hands against CO2.

  25. Jimbo says:

    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.

    Let me fix that for ya.

    The supply of weather knowledge is biased towards richer countries – those that fertilize the atmosphere the most and are least vulnerable to weather impacts – and skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world.

    Fixed.

    People have been adapting to weather and climate since we started walking upright. What people don’t need is failed projections and ideas that will fail. Here is a reminder.

    Think Progress – 6 September, 2007
    By Joe Romm
    Australia faces the “permanent dry” — as do we
    DROUGHT will become a redundant term as Australia plans for a permanently drier future, according to the nation’s urban water industries chief….

    “The urban water industry has decided the inflows of the past will never return,” Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said. “We are trying to avoid the term ‘drought’ and saying this is the new reality.”
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2007/09/06/201842/australia-faces-the-permanent-dry-as-do-we/
    —————————-
    Global Public Media – 2007
    Transcript………….
    Andi Hazelwood: Should Australia be preparing for permanent drought conditions?

    Dr. Tim Flannery: Well, it’s the new climate. We will have to get by with less water. The CSIRO’s telling us that. We’re seeing it now, in the evidence before our eyes in our rivers and creeks, and of course the computer models in the global models have been predicting just this now for some years. I think all evidence says that this is our new climate and we have to get by with less water than we’ve ever had before……….
    http://old.globalpublicmedia.com/transcripts/2833

    Then we had changeable weather.

    ABC – 4 Dec 2010
    ACT dams full to overflowing
    ACT dams are 100 per cent full for the first time in more than a decade.

    The capital region has already received its best spring rain in 27 years and the rain just keeps on coming.
    ————————–
    Guardian – 2 January 2011
    ‘Biblical’ floods hit Queensland and leave tens of thousands homeless
    Worst rains for 50 years leave Queensland homes and businesses facing invasion of snakes and killer crocodiles
    theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/02/queensland-biblical-floods-australia

    —————————-

    Herald Sun – 8 October 2012
    Fourth desal plant mothballed. Billions more wasted
    Expensive desalination plants in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have all been mothballed without producing a drop of water. All were built in preference to much cheaper dams, in part because of green bans and in part because warming preachers claimed the rains would not return.
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/fourth_desal_plant_mothballed_billions_more_wasted/

    Then in August of last year there was concern about the low level of the dams. Then one month later the rains came in force and starting the filling up process again. It’s called the weather (less than 30 years according to the IPCC).

    This is a costly lesson as to why you should not listen to their garbage and warnings. I wonder when the windmills are going to be mothballed?

  26. Louis says:

    “The results show that the supply of climate change knowledge is biased toward richer countries.”

    More breaking news: The results show that the supply of foreign aid is also biased toward richer countries. The only fair solution is for richer countries to give more money to poor countries so they can provide an equal amount of foreign aid. Wait, that would only increase the amount of foreign aid given by richer countries. Never mind.

  27. Alan S. Blue says:

    You’ve missed the correct take on this:

    “University of Copenhagen scientists join crusade for open data, open notebooks, and universal scientific data propagation.”

    AKA ‘Demand rich countries -give- poor countries access to Jones treelist, the missing ice core, and a variety of data hidden primarily for snark.’

  28. Leon Brozyna says:

    Poorer countries have different priorities … like survival. Only rich countries can afford (just) the parasitic activists who don’t have to worry about their next meal or drink of water.

  29. AnonyMoose says:

    Countries with more people who can write also do more writing.

  30. Gail Combs says:

    I guess the poor countries are just unlucky. I am sure we have some extra CAGW activists we can send them to help them increase taxes and CAGW spending. /sarc

  31. Justa Joe says:

    Often I’m skeptical about left wing redistribution schemes, but they’ve won me over. They can have the entire USA AGW movement lock, stock, and barrel. Just send over the banana boat and Pick up Mikey Mann, James Hansen, and all of their XBox 360 climate models. There’s only one condition. Once they are there they can’t be returned.

  32. Fabi says:

    For the first time, I envy the poorer nations of the world.

  33. David S says:

    Justa Joe
    People living in poor countries have enough problems already. They don’t need those idiots dumped on them.

  34. Resourceguy says:

    Junk science is one area where the playing field between countries could be leveled fairly quickly.

  35. CaligulaJones says:

    A rather perfect example of the “quota” system beloved by the politically correct. Its all a formula to them. When they see something work in practice, they bitch that it doesn’t work according to their post-modernist theory.

    As an analogy: Canada’s 100th best ice hockey player is better than the UK’s best, even though it has twice the population. An all-star team with someone from the UK would be a bit suspect.

  36. Brian H says:

    The flip side is that poorer countries don’t have enough cash to blow billions on CS nonsense, so they are spared the waste.

  37. Just Steve says:

    Future NYT headline:
    “World to End Next Week: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit”

  38. Tim,

    Climate change = 1st world problem

    ding ding ding, we have a winner!

  39. Lawrie Ayres says:

    I am a humble farmer and farmers are the original adapters. We build farm dams and tanks because we know the streams will stop flowing. We put wide verandahs around houses to keep us cool and store up wood for the winter fire. We chose the crop that suits our climate, the beast that performs best on our grass. We are careful with our money for the next crop might be a dud. Now I suspect third world people are very much the same in the way they view their situation; pragmatic and practical. If Western governments learnt those lessons again, because they once did think like that, we would never have wasted a cent on wind power and climate change. We would have simply lived through it. The problem, in Australia at least, is that our politicians are almost invariably from the city and have lost the connection with the country and the reality of nature. Our Greens have an imagined view of the real world and prognosticate on nature whilst having no connection to it. If farmers were in charge the world would be a peaceful productive place and the focus would be on ensuring a future by using the lessons of yesterday. We haven’t forgotten the last drought or flood or cold spell like the climate fraternity conveniently do. We also recognise bulls**t when we see it.

  40. F. Ross says:

    Sending climate researchers to third world countries? No thanks.
    That’s like someone knocking on your door and saying “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”
    No ‘fing thanks.

  41. NoFixedAddress says:

    hahahahahahahahaha to the self centered western a**holes.
    meanwhile Thailand figures people have died from the cold huddling over non existent warmth…
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/391073/unusual-3-month-cold-spell-in-thailand-claims-63-lives

    I wonder how many billion a scientist would need to take to stop these sorts of death….

    and when they burn down the universities when they realise how much money was p*ssed onto the gobal warming experts ego’s…

  42. old44 says:

    We could export 75% of our climate scientists and associated hangers-on to third world countries to continue their good work and pay them at the local rates. Saving the planet is all they care about so I am sure they wouldn’t mind.

  43. TheLastDemocrat says:

    This is something of a side note.
    Both authors thus claim to have capabilities in qualitative methods. The manuscript sure does not reflect this; there is a procedure described, but the specific methodology is not even obliquely referred to with so much as one reference.

    Here is the qualitative approach, from the methods section:
    “Finally, in order to supplement the quantitative analyses presented above, we did a qualitative screening of titles and abstracts of a randomly selected sub-set of publications to assess certain knowledge domains, which were found relevant to investigate for the study of the supply and need for climate change research. These domains were categorized as primary research focus (mitigation or adaptation), climate change effects (natural or social/human), scale (large or small), dominant scientific approach (natural or social science), and whether an economic perspective was present.”

    Here is the qualitative matter in the results:
    “A qualitative assessment of all titles and abstracts in a sample of 613 publications and a logistic regression revealed that the probability of a study investigating any social or human impacts of climate change is significantly higher in Africa (p < 0.06) and lower in North America (p < 0.093) compared to Europe."

    This just is not adequate. To be minimally sufficient in qualitative methodology, they would only have needed a few more words, and a couple citations.

    None of us readers can judge how justified their conclusions/findings are, since we have no idea what their methodology was.

  44. manicbeancounter says:

    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.

    As Deep Throat whispered to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate investigation,

    “follow the money”

    Rich countries, like the UK and USA, have being trying to justify costly policies to inflict on their citizens. Therefore they will fund “research” that proclaim mitigation policies are really sensible.
    Many poor countries are projected to suffer the worst effects of global warming. At the annual COP shindigs it has been proposed that a huge fund be set up to help alleviate the worst impacts of climate change. A few million spent on scientific research that “forecasts” local cataclysm resulting from the nasty emissions of the rich countries could result in a few billion for the enlightened national leadership to spend in the best interests of the population.

  45. bushbunny says:

    Yes, and we donate more aid and also to the infamous UN Climate change fund to pay our dept for being developed to others who are not coping too well.

  46. CRS, DrPH says:

    I’m developing a list of “Watt-isms” that I’ve picked up on this blog….”OH, NOES!” being a favorite! Also, “The stupidity, it burns like a …..” and “Nothing to see here, move along!”

  47. Lew Skannen says:

    In some countries the poorest people have to support an entire family on less than two climate scare stories per day….

  48. justaknitter says:

    I read the opening a little too quickly and got: M. Mann is a garden troll…he would look cute in a pointy red hat.

  49. flyingtigercomics says:

    It maps roughly to the same proportionality as people who speak Klingon and people who have sex with lifelike rubber dolls.

    In other words, it is a function of the decadence of rich socieities.

  50. H.R. says:

    @Lawrie Ayres says:
    January 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/24/oh-noes-richer-countries-get-more-climate-research-than-pooer-more-vulnerable-regions-of-the-world/#comment-1548188
    =========================================================
    Excellent!

  51. Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia says:

    CRS, DrPH says:
    January 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Actually, the origin, I believe, of “oh noes” was the magnificent Daily Bayonet which sadly has been in hiatus since early 2012. The Daily Bayonet also bestowed gems such as “oh, the ironing,” “Gaia is not happy” & “hippie-of-the-week.”

    In my opinion, it may be that WUWT uses Daily Bayonetisms as a tribute to the Groucho Marx of sceptic blogs.

    And I particularly miss the oh so politically incorrect “hottie-of-the-week.”

  52. bushbunny says:

    When I watched Al’s 24 hour show a few years ago. I noted a few of the atolls and islands were asking for help with their gardening and also they were sinking. The problem is they have exhausted their soils and it wouldn’t be hard for us to send in experts to revive the fertility of their soils. The island of Tivula, nr New Zealand and Australia is sinking, mainly because the American company has removed sand and pebbles from the beaches for building. So these problems are not about climate change but ruining their landscapes and it wouldn’t be hard to correct these problems. (Just get a good Jim Morrison gardening book!) Atolls do sink though over time without humans help..

  53. bushbunny says:

    Has Bermuda sunk yet or been eroded? I lived there and it is a coral island, that imports most of its food and in a drought water from the hotels there and ships. On the fringe of the hurricane belt. It’s highest points are only 150 feet absl. I lived on blue hole hill that was also high, but we had a bad storm, and waves were breaking over the cars, and it was hard to stand up visiting a Wiggley Piggerly store. But other than some plants in the garden that suffered salt spray damage, we survived. Water was luke warm or tepid.

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