Why we can’t trust academic journals to tell the scientific truth | The Guardian

6. Juni 2017

Dieser Beitrag erschien in der britischen Tageszeitung The Guardian.

Academic journals don’t select the research they publish on scientific rigour alone. So why aren’t academics taking to the streets about this?

Hundreds of thousands of scientists took to streets around the world in April. “We need science because science tells the truth. We are those who can fight the fake news,” a friend who participated in one of the March for Science rallies told me. I really wish this were true. Sadly, much evidence suggests otherwise.

The idea that the same experiment will always produce the same result, no matter who performs it, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to truth. However, more than 70% of the researchers (pdf), who took part in a recent study published in Nature have tried and failed to replicate another scientist’s experiment. Another study found that at least 50% of life science research cannot be replicated. The same holds for 51% of economics papers (pdf).

The findings of these studies resonate with the gut feeling of many in contemporary academia – that a lot of published research findings may be false. Just like any other information source, academic journals may contain fake news.

Some of those who participate in the March For Science movement idealise science. Yet science is in a major crisis. And we need to talk about this instead of claiming that scientists are armed with the truth.

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Conceptualizing Chinese Engagement in South-East Asian Dam Projects: Evidence from Myanmar’s Salween River | International Journal of Water Resources Development

16. Mai 2017

Dieser Beitrag erschien in der begutachteten Fachzeitschrift International Journal of Water Resources Development

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Chinese engagement in South-East Asian dam projects is usually conceptualized by scholars as directly driven by China’s political leadership as part of a larger package whose terms would only be favourable to the Chinese party. This article argues against this notion, conceptualizing Chinese engagement in South-East Asian dam projects as engagement that can also be directly driven by a Chinese dam developer in a standalone project whose terms are favourable to all contractual parties involved. The cases of the Mong Ton and Hat Gyi dams on Myanmar’s Salween River, which feature the involvement of the Chinese dam developers China Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro, are presented as evidence for this latter conceptualization.

The final version of the article (18 pages) is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2017.1322942

“Learning it the Hard Way”: Social safeguards norms in Chinese-led dam projects in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia | Energy Policy

7. Januar 2017

Dieser Beitrag ist in Zusammenarbeit mit Dr. Nathanial Matthews, Dr. Katrina Charles und Dr. Matthew Walton verfasst worden und erschien in der begutachteten Fachzeitschrift Energy Policy.

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Chinese dam developers claim to construct at least every second dam worldwide. However, scholarly literature comprehensively investigating the social safeguard norms in these projects is rare. This paper analyses social safeguard norms in Chinese-led dam projects in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, hotspots of Chinese-led dam construction. We find that social safeguard norms adopted have significantly changed in the past 15 years. While Chinese dam developers claimed to adopt standards of the host countries upon the launch of China’s Going Out Policy in 2001, with occasional adoption of more demanding Chinese standards, they did not adopt international norms. In recent years, however, they increasingly take into account international norms. We argue that the root cause for this change is social mobilization, with the suspension of the Myitsone Dam in 2011 as a particular game changer. Enhanced social safeguard legislation in host countries and China, stricter rules of Chinese funders and cooperation of Chinese dam developers with international players have also facilitated this change.

The final version of the article (11 pages) is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516307212


The NLD should start 2017 by scrapping the Myitsone dam | Myanmar Times

7. Januar 2017

Dieser Beitrag ist in Zusammenarbeit mit Dr. Matthew Walton verfasst worden und erschien in der burmesischen Tageszeitung Myanmar Times.

The arguments against the Myitsone Dam project are pervasive and convincing. Decision-makers in Myanmar should scrap the project as their first action in 2017.

The beginning of the year is always a time of prediction and thus peak season for pundits. Twelve months ago, many pundits on Myanmar predicted the National League for Democracy-led government would, once it assumed power, quickly scrap the controversial Myitsone dam project.

Three reasons were provided for this prediction.

First, the NLD-backed government would not dare to resume a project that would stand at the headwater of the Ayeyarwady River, widely recognised as Myanmar’s cultural birthplace and lifeline.

Second, the NLD government would not dare to resume a project that would mainly power China (in exchange for a mere US$17 billion paid over 50 years), while half the people in Myanmar still lack access to electricity.

Third, the NLD government would not dare to resume a project that had emerged as the major symbol of Myanmar’s political change, as hard evidence that the government had finally started listening to its people.

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Mapping the Social Impacts of ‘Damocles Projects’: The Case of Thailand’s (as yet Unbuilt) Kaeng Suea Ten Dam | Journal of International Development

3. Oktober 2016

Dieser Beitrag ist in Zusammenarbeit mit Teerapong Pomun und Dr. Matthew Walton verfasst worden und erschien in der begutachteten Fachzeitschrift Journal of International Development.

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Academic research on dams‘ social impacts traditionally focuses on ex-post resettlement impacts. We explore a specific subset of ex-ante resettlement impacts in this paper: ‘Damocles projects’, whose implementation is still uncertain. Our case study is Thailand’s Kaeng Suea Ten Dam whose implementation has been uncertain for 36 years. We find the cultural life of the communities studied has been significantly shaped by the looming construction of the dam. Furthermore, most villagers report extreme anxiety induced by the threat of the project. As a consequence, many have postponed private investments. The government has also withheld public infrastructure investments, further hampering the villages‘ economic development. Our research highlights the negative impacts induced by projects whose implementation is still uncertain.

The final version of the article (19 pages) is available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jid.3246/full

How to avoid anti-dam-protests | Global Water Forum

12. September 2016

Dieser Beitrag erschien bei Global Water Forum

A major boom in dam development is under way globally with at least 3,700 dams either planned or already under construction. These are expected to increase global hydropower production by 73% to 1,700 GW in the coming years. 34 GW of capacity was added in 2015 alone, equivalent to 2.5 times of Africa’s current total installed capacity. Asia is a particular hotspot of dam construction with capacity additions of almost 28 GW in 2015, more than in any other region of the world.

Fifty years ago, engineers constructing large-scale infrastructure such as dams struggled most with the technical challenges of these mega-projects. However, the greatest obstacles faced by such projects today are almost always socio-political.  Indeed, public protests delay large dam projects all around the world. Examples of current contested large dam projects are Myanmar’s Myitsone Dam or Myanmar’s Mong Ton Dam, Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam and Mozambique’s Mphanda Nkuwa Dam.

Scholars have mostly explained the emergence of significant anti-dam-protests with the political system of a country. According to these scholars, significant anti-dam-protests emerge only if the country in which the dam is constructed is reasonably democratic; if a country is autocratic, no protests emerge. Protests such as those against Myanmar’s Myitsone Dam, which started when Myanmar was still under military rule, could therefore not be explained by these academicians.

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Multi-causal pathways of public opposition to dam projects in Asia: A fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) | Global Environmental Change

27. August 2016

Dieser Beitrag ist in Zusammenarbeit mit Dr. Katrina Charles und Dr. Matthew Walton verfasst worden und erschien in der begutachteten Fachzeitschrift Global Environmental Change.

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Scholars overwhelmingly adopt the case study method when analyzing causal conditions inducing anti-dam-protests. We have carried out the first medium-N-study on this topic analyzing public opposition to 12 dam projects in Asia. For this purpose, we employ a fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) which is based on a thorough review of scholarly writings and press reports on the dam projects at question as well as an online survey and semi-structured interviews. We identify two causal recipes sufficient for the emergence of significant anti-dam-protests. First, lacking social safeguards in combination with the presence of political opportunity structures and higher levels of development are sufficient for significant anti-dam-protests to emerge. Second, lacking social safeguards in combination with rampant corruption and environmental risk induce these protests. Current scholarly literature particuarly emphasizes political opportunity structures and development as causal conditions inducing significant protests. Our findings build on this literature to highlight the importance of project-specific conditions.

The full article (13 pages) is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378016301273