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New Rankings of Climate Change Scientists Overlooks Research by Africans

The Reuters Hot List of “the world’s top climate scientists” is causing a buzz in the climate change community. Reuters ranked these 1,000 scientists based on three criteria: the number of papers published on climate change topics; citations, relative to other papers in the same field; and references by the non-peer reviewed press. The list includes 130 of the 929 authors who are contributing to the current reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, arguably the most influential source for climate change policy. Again, the imbalance is stark: 377 (41%) of panel authors are citizens of developing countries (95 from Africa) and only 16 of these are on the Reuters list (only two from Africa). The imbalance in influence, therefore, has implications for both global and local action. Much of the global literature is blind to and silent on the lived experiences of the majority of the globe. This includes extreme and multidimensional poverty, inequality, informality, gender inequity, cultural and language diversity, rapid urbanisation and weak governance, and how these intersect with climate change. An incomplete literature will miss important solutions in the global fight against climate change. The most compelling story in the Hot List publication is the unequal global distribution of knowledge and expertise.