southern; climate

“Climate change research in Africa biased”

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, says Cullen Hendrix, a professor in International Studies at Denver University, United States.

“When I examined the existing research, I discovered that we know a lot more about how climate change affected countries that are former British colonies and have more stable political institutions than countries without these characteristics,” Hendrix said in a column he recently wrote for the Washington Post.

He claimed scholars studying the effects of climate change had devoted roughly the same amount of attention to Kenya and South Africa — 2 countries with a combined population of 99 million — as to 29 other African countries, whose combined population numbers 280 million.

“This suggests that need is guiding decisions somewhat. But there’s no increased attention to countries with more exposure to climate change or less ability to adapt because of lower incomes or weaker state capacity.

“This suggests that climate change research in Africa is bedeviled by the ‘streetlight effect’. You know the story: A drunk loses his keys in the park but looks for them under a streetlight because that’s where it’s easier to see.”

Hendrix recommended climate change research and funders and researchers pursue research in non-Anglophone African countries that were less politically open.

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