This is a linkpost for a new 80,000 hours episode focused on how to engage in climate from an effective altruist perspective.
- The podcast lives here, including a selection of highlights as well as a full transcript and lots of additional links. Thanks to 80,000hours’ new feature rolled out on April 1st you can even listen to it!
- My Twitter thread is here.
Rob and I are having a pretty wide-ranging conversation, here are the things we cover which I find most interesting for different audiences:
For EAs not usually engaged in climate:
- (1) How ideas like mission hedging apply in climate given the expected curvature of climate damage (and expected climate damage, though we do not discuss this)
- (2) How engaging in a crowded space like climate suggests that one should primarily think about improving overall societal response, rather than incrementally adding to it (vis-a-vis causes like AI safety where, at least until recently, EAs were the main funders / interested parties)
- (3) How technological change is fundamentally the result of societal decisions and sustained public support and, as such, can be affected through philanthropy and advocacy.
For people thinking about climate more:
- (1) The importance of thinking about a portfolio that is robust and hedgy rather than reliant on best-case assumptions.
- (2) The problem with evaluating climate solutions based on their local-short term effects given that the most effective climate actions are often (usually?) those that have no impacts locally in the short-term.
- (3) The way in which many prominent responses – such as focusing on short-term targets, on lifestyle changes, only on popular solutions, and on threshold targets (“1.5C or everything failed”) – have unintended negative consequences.
- (4) How one might think about the importance of engaging in different regions.
- (5) Interaction of climate with other causes, both near-termist (air pollution, energy poverty) and longtermist (climate is more important when disruptive ability is more dispersed, e.g. in the case of bio-risk concerns).
For people engaging with donors / being potential donors themselves:
- (1) The way in which philanthropically funded advocacy can make a large difference, as this is something many (tech) donors do not intuitively understand. We go through this in quite some detail with the example of geothermal.
- (2) The relative magnitudes of philanthropy, public funding etc. and how this should shape what to use climate philanthropy for, primarily.
- (3) A description of several FP Climate Fund grants as well as the ongoing research that underpins this work.