Nuclear winter would be approximately 8°C change in only one year, and this is unlikely to cause extinction. 10°C climate warming over a century would be much lower impact, because there is time to relocate infrastructure and people (and nuclear winter also reduces solar radiation). So I have put it in the intensity category of an abrupt 10% agricultural shortfall. Based on a survey of GCR researchers, this has a mean long-term reduction in far future potential of approximately 5% [EA · GW]. This combined with a probability of about 2% gives about a 0.1% reduction in the far future potential. Full scale nuclear war is estimated to have a 17% [EA · GW] reduction in long term future potential. There is great uncertainty in the probability of full-scale nuclear war, but I think 0.1% per year or 10% in the next 100 years is reasonably conservative. Therefore, full scale nuclear war is more likely than extreme climate change and also significantly greater consequences if it were to happen. But then the question is how much would it cost to significantly mitigate the problems. Since solar radiation management is risky, the present value of the cost of largely solving the climate change problem by reducing emissions is around $10 trillion (there was an EA forum post on value of information of this, but I can’t seem to find it). I have researched both energy efficiency and renewable energy for years, and I do think there is still some low hanging fruit of energy efficiency that pays for itself. However, to actually solve the problem will cost a lot of money. On the other hand, reducing the far future impact of nuclear winter by about 17% would cost around $100 million [EA · GW] by investing in response plans and research and development of alternative foods. Therefore, since alternative foods address a roughly 15 times bigger problem, at 100,000 times lower cost and with 1/5 the threat reduction (if we assume the $10 trillion on emissions reductions completely solves the problem), this works out to approximately 300,000 times higher cost effectiveness for alternative foods versus emissions reductions.
Fortunately, alternative foods also mitigates climate related catastrophes such as abrupt regional climate change, coincident extreme weather on multiple continents, and slow 10°C change (which makes the cost effectiveness of alternative foods even higher than the numbers calculated above). There may be other low hanging fruit that address climate change such as Cool Earth (though see this criticism [EA · GW]) and energy efficiency (though even if energy efficiency pays for itself, it still costs donor money to advocate for it). But even at a cost of $0.38 per ton CO2, it is still a few orders of magnitude lower cost effectiveness than alternative foods or artificial general intelligence safety [EA · GW] from the perspective of the long-term future. Of course it is better to do this probabilistically, which is why I have encouraged you to add climate change to an existing cost-effectiveness model of alternative foods and artificial intelligence.
Hopefully we can direct tens of billions of dollars more to EA [EA · GW], and then we can work our way further down the marginal cost effectiveness curves of existential risk mitigation, but I don’t think that reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be a priority for EA at this point.incogneilo18 on Older people may place less moral value on the far future
In addition to the analyses SoGive conducted that Sanjay has listed, Rethink Priorities conducted some tests which provide further evidence for the claims made, and speak to the question Will MacAskill raised “Do younger people actually have more future-oriented views?” [EA · GW] The samples do appear to be more presentdayist than longtermist, especially so for older respondents.
In both samples we find evidence in support of the hypothesis that there is a preference for prioritising helping people now rather than considering people in the future as of equal priority. 47-61% of respondents place a greater importance on prioritising present people than they did on treating future people as equal, while 18-34% preferred treating future people as equal more than they preferred prioritising present people. The rest placed the same importance on both.
Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test & Sign test of matched pairs find data in both samples that would be surprising given a null of no difference in the distributions or between the medians of Prioritise Present and Future Equal. Therefore, it seems pretty safe to reject the null with a 5% long run error rate, and be able to reliably detect a small effect size 80% of the time if it exists in reality. One-sided tests suggest we can reject the null hypotheses that there is no difference and that Future Equal has a larger proportion than Prioritise Present. But we cannot reject that Prioritise Present has a larger proportion than Future Equal.
We do not find evidence to support the claim that younger people consider future people as equally deserving of help, though we do find that older respondents prioritise present people more than younger respondents do. Older people are more likely to always prioritise present people than choose any number of future people to help, though younger people only seem willing to choose future people when there are more people in the future than the present to be helped.
We did not find any significant correlation between age and the explicit question of treating future people as equal. We found a small positive correlation (Spearman, Šidák-adjusted, r=0.17, p<0.01) between age and the explicit prioritise present question, and a regression including Future Equal, Left-Right, Age, and Mean Charity Likeliness suggests older respondents were more likely than younger respondents to Agree/Strongly Agree to prioritising helping people now, though as likely as younger respondents to Slightly Disagree/Disagree/Strongly Disagree.
Of those who gave an integer in response to the tradeoff question asking respondents to offer a number of future lives to improve instead of 1000 present lives, there were very few young respondents who gave a value of less than 1001. Very few (~7%) respondents under the age of 35 gave an answer less than 1001, while ~26% of 35s and over gave an answer less than 1001. None of the under 35s gave a response lower than one hundred, while 44% of the 35 and overs did - with 14% giving a value of 1. It is hard to know if these respondents really preferred improving the life of 1 person 500 years from now rather than 1000 people now or if they answered incorrectly.
Finally, a multinomial logistic regression (of Always Present as base, plus Always Future, 1001 or more, & Less than 1001) suggests that increases in age are negatively associated (-0.03, p<0.0001) with choosing an integer rather than Always Present i.e. older people are more likely to choose always improving lives of present people no matter the number of future lives improved than to offer any number of future people it would be better to improve.stijn on Defending the Procreation Asymmetry with Conditional Interests
got it! :-)stevenkaas on Review of Climate Cost-Effectiveness Analyses
I was thinking e.g. of Nordhaus's result that a modest amount of mitigation is optimal. He's often criticized for his assumptions about discount rate and extreme scenarios, but neither of those is causing the difference in estimates here.
According to your link, recent famines have killed about 1M per decade, so for climate change to kill 1-5M per year through famine, it would have to increase the problem by a factor of 10-50 despite advancing technology and increasing wealth. That seems clearly wrong as a central estimate. The spreadsheet based on the WHO report says 85k-95k additional deaths due to undernutrition, though as you mention, there are limitations to this estimate. (And I guess famine deaths are just a small subset of undernutrition deaths?) Halstead also discusses this issue under "crops".throwaway97453458 on What to know before talking with journalists about EA
I would like to add something that the authors of this piece may be too polite or professional to say themselves: the financial pressures within the media industry have made journalism among the most dishonest professions in society.
Of course there are many fantastic scrupulous people working in the media. And there are a handful of outlets that maintain high levels of integrity.
But the median journalist is under enormous pressure to find some sensationalist angle for their stories in order to drive a lot of clicks. They're also under great pressure to finish stories very quickly, which means little or no fact checking.
If they don't go along, they run a high risk of being forced out of their chosen career entirely. Even idealistic people will often cave when faced with such a stark choice.
As a result I regularly hear about journalists behaving very badly. If you ever know something about a topic, you'll find most news stories covering that issue are very misleading.
So it's sad to say, but the media should usually be avoided. And if they can't be avoided, at least treated with deep distrust.db on Making Donating Fun
Very good points, I agree with all.
Don't be afraid to sound negative, honest feedback can save a whole career!khorton on What are your top papers of the 2010s?
It basically represents my transition from thinking that algorithms were basically fair and fine, to thinking they're biased because people are biased and so bias is baked in eg through bad data, to realising the are a very wide variety of ways that algorithms can unintentionally discriminate.
They're not a particularly EA-related pair of papers, but they are very interesting.ramiro on Ramiro's Shortform
Assessing the impact of Brazilian donors and EA community
We’re thinking about testing if our actions for promoting EA in this year (translations, meetings, networking...) have led to an observable increase in donations from Brazil - particularly outside the group of more "engaged" members. Even if we haven't observed an increase in high-quality engagement (such as GWWC pledges), we do see an increase in some "cheaper signals", such as the number of Facebook group members and the amount of donations to AMF (which, curiously, are concentrated in basically two metropolitan areas - Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre; I know there are some EAs living in Minas and in the North, but currently I'm not aware of any donation coming from Rio and Brasilia, despite them being high-income metropolitan area). We'd like to test if that's a coincidence.
I would appreciate any suggestion/help on that. I think it would demand more than EA survey data. First, we thought about requesting to EA charities data about the amount of donations:
1.1 from Brazil between Oct 23th, 2018 and Oct 23th, 2019 (controlling for month) with the amount of donations from the previous year;
1.2 from similar countries (I’m not sure which countries we should pick: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, S. Africa, Portugal?...China?), in the same periods – to check if any of them presented a similar increase/decrease.
Second, I wonder if we could get in touch with at least some identified donors and ask them how they came to the decision of donating. Possibly, tracking people using the names they provided to those websites might be considered too invasive, but I wonder if the organization itself could send an e-mail inviting them to get in touch with us.anonymous_ea on What are your top papers of the 2010s?
Can you expand on how this influenced you?michaelplant on Oddly, Britain has never been happier
I also thought the World Happiness Survey looked flat but it has gone up. 0.25/10 is not be sniffed at.
WHS has a much smaller sample size - around 1,000 per year - whereas the Office of National Statistics asks around 300,000 people a year. ONS data also shows a rise of about 0.3/10 between 2011 and 2019 (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/datasets/headlineestimatesofpersonalwellbeing)