Monday, April 22, 2019

A War Is Ending: Chinese energy industry asks to build 300–500 new coal power plants by 2030

China’s power industry calls for hundreds of new coal power plants by 2030. Lauri Myllyvirta. Greenpeace Unearthed, March 28 2019.

Under the proposal, the country could add a large coal power plant every 2 weeks for the next 12 years

The largest power producers in China have asked the government to allow for the development of between 300 and 500 new coal power plants by 2030 [...].


In its review of the government’s five-year-plan, China Electricity Council (CEC) – the influential industry body representing China’s power industry – recommended adopting a ‘cap’ for coal power capacity by 2030 — but the 1300GW limit proposed is 290GW higher than current capacity. The target is for the country’s coal-fired capacity to continue to grow until peaking in 2030.

The cap would enable China to build 2 large coal power stations a month for the next 12 years, and grow the country’s capacity by an amount nearly twice the size of Europe’s total coal capacity.


The Chinese government has not adopted the industry proposal, but it is under consideration.

[...] Both the China National Renewable Energy Center 2C scenario and the IEA Sustainable Development Scenario, a fairly unambitious emission reduction scenario that would be likely to lead to more than 2 degrees warming, have China’s thermal power capacity falling around 900GW by 2030 — a 200GW reduction from 2020 to 2030, as opposed to a 200GW increase proposed by the industry.

[I]n a scenario consistent with the reductions in coal use needed to meet the 1.5C target, China’s coal-fired capacity must fall by around 350GW from 2020 to 2030 to reach 680GW, taking the rapid development of renewable energy into consideration.

The capacity proposed by the CEC plan is therefore almost twice as high as the level consistent with 1.5C.

Analysis also suggests that at least 50GW of coal capacity will retire by 2030 – probably more like 200GW – which means that the gross addition of capacity under the CEC plan would be around 330GW to 470GW.

130GW is currently under construction in China (WHAT!!!! ***), with an additional 30-40GW of projects that already started construction but were suspended or delayed due to Beijing’s various overcapacity policies.


For context, the total German coal/lignite plant capacity is less than 50GW, while in Poland it is below 30 GW.

Full text, charts and links at

*** The Greenpeace writer pretends not to know about this: China is building coal power again. Feng Hao. China Dialogue, Sep 28 2018.
CoalSwarm published a report on September 26 warning that 259 gigawatts of coal power capacity – equivalent to the entire coal power fleet of the United States – is being built in China despite government policies restricting new builds.

Check also how a forensic examination of china’s national accounts 2008-2016 establish that growth was overstated by more than 13pct:
Chen, Wei, Xilu Chen, Chang-Tai Hseih and Zheng (Michael) Song. 2019. “A Forensic Examination of China’s National Accounts” BPEA Conference Draft, Spring.

If that is true, there is no incentive to close the door to coal.

And finally check how Pakistan's pivot to coal goes running with Chinese help: Plan to spend $35bn loan from China on new power stations looks set to continue under Khan
Pakistan’s pivot to coal to boost energy gets critics fired up. Kiran Stacey in Lahore July 31, 2018. Financial Times.

Evaluating the Impact of Ethnic Television on Political Participation: Access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge

Tuning In, Not Turning Out: Evaluating the Impact of Ethnic Television on Political Participation. Yamil Ricardo Velez, Benjamin J. Newman. American Journal of Political Science, April 15 2019.

Abstract: Despite the importance of ethnic television within immigrant communities, its effects on political participation are unclear. On the one hand, ethnic media can mobilize and inform voters. On the other hand, it can serve as a source of diversion and reduce the desire to participate. To evaluate these competing possibilities, we implement a geographic regression discontinuity (GRD) approach involving Federal Communication Commission reception boundaries for Spanish‐language television stations in two states. Additionally, we replicate and unpack our GRD analyses using three nationally representative samples of Latinos. Across multiple studies, we find that access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings on the ethnic politics, political communication, and social capital literatures.

Does state capacity lowers violence? The find that post office density is a strong, consistent, & negative predictor of dueling behavior

Jensen, Jeffrey and Ramey, Adam, Going Postal: State Capacity and Violent Dispute Resolution (March 13, 2019). SSRN,

Abstract: Scholars have long tried to understand the conditions under which actors choose to use violent versus non-violent means to settle disputes, and many argue that violence is more likely in weakly-institutionalized settings. Yet, there is little evidence showing that increases in state capacity lowers the use of violent informal institutions to resolve disputes. Utilizing a novel dataset of violence --- specifically, duels --- across American states in the 19th Century, we use the spread of federal post offices as an identification strategy to investigate the importance of state capacity for the incidence of violent dispute resolution. We find that post office density is a strong, consistent, and negative predictor of dueling behavior. Our evidence contributes to a burgeoning literature on the importance of state capacity for development outcomes.

Keywords: Violence, Dueling, Political Economy, American Political Development
JEL Classification: K42, N31, O17

Trait grandiose narcissism positively predicted helping but narcissistic rivalry predicted it negatively; participants reported more helping on days they felt more narcissistic, but only if mood was low

State and trait narcissism predict everyday helping. Siyin Chen, Rebecca Friesdorf & Christian H. Jordan. Self and Identity, Apr 22 2019.

ABSTRACT: Though grandiose narcissism may seem incompatible with prosocial behavior, evidence of how they relate is mixed. We extend research on this relation by (1) assessing everyday helping, (2) distinguishing narcissistic admiration and rivalry, and (3) assessing state narcissism. Using daily diary methodology and multilevel modeling (N = 380; total observations = 4292), we assess trait narcissism (grandiose, admiration and rivalry), state narcissism, and daily helping over 14 days. Trait grandiose narcissism positively predicted helping but narcissistic rivalry predicted it negatively. State narcissism also positively predicted helping: Participants reported more helping on days they felt more narcissistic. Mood, however, interacted with state narcissism: state narcissism predicted greater helping when daily mood was low but not high.

KEYWORDS: Grandiose narcissism, state narcissism, prosocial behavior

Check also how they found a positive relationship between the endorsement of good citizenship (voting, paying taxes, staying informed, etc.) and narcissism: Who makes a good citizen? The role of personality. Scott Pruysers, Julie Blais, Phillip G.Chen. Personality and Individual Differences. Volume 146, 1 August 2019, Pages 99-104.

The Emergence of Modern Languages: Has Human Self-Domestication Optimized Language Transmission?

The Emergence of Modern Languages: Has Human Self-Domestication Optimized Language Transmission? Antonio Benítez-Burraco and Vera Kempe. Front. Psychol., April 17 2018.


Our uniquely human ability to learn and use languages (aka language-readiness) has been hypothesized to result from species-specific changes in brain development and wiring that habilitated a new neural workspace supporting cross-modular thinking, among other abilities (Boeckx and Benítez-Burraco, 2014; see Arbib, 2012, 2017 for a similar view). Strikingly, behavioral modernity did not emerge on a par with cognitive modernity. On the contrary, it is only well after our split from Neanderthals and Denisovans that modern behavior becomes evident around the world (see Mellars et al., 2007; but also Hoffmann et al., 2018; for tentative evidence of behavioral modernity in Neanderthals). This emergence of modern behavior has been linked to the rise of modern languages, i.e., exhibiting features such as elaborate syntax including extensive use of recursion. The potential of these languages to convey sophisticated meanings and know-how in ways that allows sharing of knowledge with others is assumed to have arisen in a reciprocal relationship with complex cultural practices (Sinha, 2015a,b; Tattersall, 2017). Thus, even if not its main trigger, complex language is at the very least a by-product and facilitator of modern behavior.

Because the human brain and human cognition have remained substantially unmodified since our origins, behavioral modernity and modern languages are assumed to be the product of cultural evolution via niche construction (Sinha, 2009, 2015b; Fogarty and Creanza, 2017). This may include feedback effects of culture on our cognitive architecture in the form of the creation of “cognitive gadgets” (Clarke and Heyes, 2017) through small modifications in learning and data-acquisition mechanisms like attentional focus or memory resources (Lotem et al., 2017), but without involving significant neuro-anatomical changes (Figure 1). However, this explanation may be insufficient: Recent research suggests that aspects of the human distinctive globular skull and brain might have evolved gradually within our species in response to accompanying genetic changes, reaching present-day human variation between about 100 and 35 thousand years ago (kya), in parallel with the emergence of behavioral modernity (Neubauer et al., 2018). Thus, it may not be entirely appropriate to equate neuro-anatomical modernity with cognitive modernity; instead, the language-ready brain can be conceived of as a brain with the potential for cognitive modernity. Here we argue that these neuro-anatomical and concomitant behavioral changes are largely manifestations of human self-domestication, which constitutes a possible pathway toward cognitive modernity and sophisticated linguistic abilities. We focus specifically on parenting and teaching behaviors as foundations of cultural transmission processes that may have facilitated the exploitation of our cognitive potential and, ultimately, the emergence of modern languages.

From things to thinking: Cognitive archaeology

From things to thinking: Cognitive archaeology. Adrian Currie, Anton Killin. Mind & Language, March 13 2019.

Abstract: Cognitive archaeologists infer from material remains to the cognitive features of past societies. We characterize cognitive archaeology in terms of trace‐based reasoning, which in the case of cognitive archaeology involves inferences drawing upon background theory linking objects from the archaeological record to cognitive (including psychological, symbolic, and ideological) features. We analyse such practices, examining work on cognitive evolution, language, and musicality. We argue that the central epistemic challenge for cognitive archaeology is often not a paucity of material remains, but insufficient constraint from cognitive theories. However, we also argue that the success of cognitive archaeology does not necessarily require well‐developed cognitive theories: Success might instead lead to them.

From 2017... The material record and the antiquity of language: Material proxies show symbolism was adopted subsequent to origin of H. sapiens; the driver of symbolic thought was probably spontaneous invention of language

From 2017: The material record and the antiquity of language. Ian Tattersall. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 81, Part B, October 2017, Pages 247-254.

•    Symbolic thought is detectable only via symbolic material proxies
•    These show symbolism was adopted subsequent to origin of H. sapiens
•    Driver of symbolic thought was probably spontaneous invention of language

Abstract: One view of language origins sees it as ancient and selection-driven; the other as recent and emergent. Such disagreement occurs because language is ephemeral, detectable only by indirect proxies. Because internalized language and symbolic thought are tightly linked, the best archaeological proxies for language are symbolic objects. Nothing indicates convincingly that any hominid behaved symbolically prior to Homo sapiens, which originated 200 kyr ago but started behaving symbolically only 100 kyr later. Most probably the necessary neural underpinnings arose exaptively in the extensive developmental reorganization that gave rise to anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens, and were recruited subsequently via a necessarily behavioral stimulus. This was most plausibly the spontaneous invention of externalized language, in an isolate of Homo sapiens in Africa, that initiated a feedback process between externalized structured language and internalized language/organized thought. These subsequently spread in tandem throughout a species already biologically predisposed for them. Despite its qualitatively remarkable result, this exaptive process would have been perfectly routine and unremarkable in terms of evolutionary mechanism.