top of page

Climate Change Research is Biased Towards a Select Few African Countries

Scholars have long been researching the potential effects of climate change in Africa. That’s urgent. As the climate changes, billions of lives will change with it. We urgently need to understand and prepare for those changes, including droughts, floods, land loss, and weather changes that may lead to extinctions, widespread hunger, mass displacements, epidemics, conflict and other catastrophic results.

But there’s a catch. Instead of examining how climate change will affect the broadest territories with the most exposure to climate change, researchers are going to the countries that are most convenient for them to visit and study. When I examined the existing research, I discovered that we know a lot more about how climate change will affect countries that a) are former British colonies, b) have stronger protections for civil liberties, and c) have more stable political institutions than countries without these characteristics.

That’s understandable — but problematic. Let’s look more closely.

My research finds that scholars studying the effects of climate change have devoted roughly the same amount of attention to Kenya and South Africa — two countries with a combined population of 99 million — as to 29 other African countries, whose combined population numbers 280 million.

Davida De La Harpe

bottom of page