Quickly sharing because this seems relatively well written and well-intentioned and probably worth reading for at least some forum readers. It offers an interesting introduction to the ideas of 'Ecomodernism' (a movement I hadn't heard of) and where these ideas overlap and come apart from the ideas of EA. Also poses some relatively interesting/sophisticated critiques of EA (at least by the standards of what I have come to expect from critics).
I am an ecomodernist, not an effective altruist. And it’s funny because, over the last few years, I have met many self-identified effective altruists, often themselves quite inclined towards ecomodernism, whose views and habits of mind I also really admire.
Your typical ecomodernist and effective altruist each believe in the liberatory power of science and technology. They are both pro-growth, recognizing the robust relationship between economic growth and human freedom, expanding circles of empathy, democratic governance, improved social and public health outcomes, and even ecological sustainability. Notably, every effective altruist I can recall discussing the matter with is pro-nuclear, or at least not reflexively anti-nuclear. That is usually a litmus test for broader pro-abundance views, which effective altruists and ecomodernists both tend to espouse. Ecomodernists and effective altruists both attempt an evidence-based analytical rigor, in contrast to the more myopic, romantic, and utopian frameworks they are working to displace.
All that said, there are distinctions in both practice and worldview between the two communities that I think are worth grappling with. Obviously, I don’t speak for every ecomodernist out there, and I am writing this partially to my effective altruist friends in the hopes they will validate or invalidate my premises. But broadly speaking, some distinctions come to mind:
- Ecomodernists are anthropocentric deontologists, while effective altruists embrace a kind of pan-species utilitarianism.
- Ecomodernists are more meliorist, while effective altruists are more longtermist.
- Ecomodernists are institutionalists, while effective altruists evince a consistent skepticism of institutions.
Despite the commonalities and opportunities for collaboration, I think it would be a mistake for ecomodernists to overlook these gaps. Buying into what even effective altruists call the more fanatical commitments of their movement risks abandoning what makes ecomodernism necessary in the first place: reinforcing the role of human institutions in democratically creating a better future for humans and nature.