Having been excited to see EA orgs like GWWC and others are continuing to do analysis of climate change and environmental risks, I thought I'd mention that we at CSER are working to set up research strands in environmental risks. We are excited to announce that CSER is hiring for a postdoc to work in the area of major ecological risks. Interested in the complex nature of ecological tipping points, and how they might result in catastrophic impacts? Extreme risks associated with escalating sea level rise? How climate change might threaten global food security? Or the risks and flow-on effects that climate change poses for (perhaps unidentified) keystone species?

We're looking to hire a brilliant person who will bring their ideas to us; however, we have a particular interest in potentially catastrophic impacts resulting from the interplay between emerging ecological risks (and other factors e.g. sociopolitical) of different developments of concern in the environmental domain, such as the ideas above, as these reflect challenges identified by our advisers as being complex and poorly understood. There will also be a strong emphasis on translation of research into policy impacts, using the networks of CSER and its collaborators.

This first hire is likely to seed a broader programme in this space for us, in collaboration with a range of partners in Cambridge. Relevant disciplines might include: biology, ecology, conservation, mathematical modelling, planetary science, anthropology, psychology, human geography, decision and policy sciences.Please share the word as widely as possible! As Huw's and my own networks are not primarily in environmental and climate risk, we are very grateful for the help of our colleagues and friends in reaching the right networks. For queries, please contact admin@cser.org.

Thank you!

Seán

Executive Director, CSER.

http://cser.org/cser-is-recruiting-postdoctoral-research-associate-fixed-term/

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7 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:57 AM

Happy to discontinue posting about research position openings, if these are not of interest, or the EA forum is no longer an appropriate venue. Thanks!

In my view, they very much are of interest.

Thanks for the feedback Stefan! Was responding to an initial downvote; wanted to make sure this wasn't seen as inappropriate for EA forum.

Hi Sean,

there has been a flurry of activity in effective altruism on climate change, environmentalism, and ecological catastrophes lately, above and beyond what y'all in Oxford have been up to. If you remember my Facebook post from several months ago on climate change, environmentalism, and effective altruism, I've polished that post and put it up as an article on the EA Forum. Anyway, it's a serendipitous time to be posting this. I intended to write an article on all the opportunities to evaluate opportunities for effective altruism to intervene into environmental problems. I'll expedite it to link to and boost visibility for this job posting, since I'm assuming the more applications you receive, and sooner (I don't know if you have a hiring deadline...), the better. I'll get it up in the next few days.

Hi Evan,

My apologies, I didn't mean to overlook your work or others. As I'm not online as much as I'd like, I wasn't quite sure if environmental risk was a priority cause area in EA at the moment, so I'd held off posting the opening on the forum at first. The GWWC post this week updated me towards it being of interest.

Was really excited to see your very detailed taxonomy of posts in this area you've been planning to write. The article you describe sounds very helpful for a variety of reasons. Our own deadline is May 11, so if it encourages people that this is an important area, they should still have 1-2 weeks to apply. Thanks so much!

Oh, no need to apologize at all! I didn't think you were overlooking my work at all; I already assumed, as you said, that you hadn't noticed it. I'm also aware you're extremely busy. Environmental risks are only just becoming a concern for effective altruism, some things holding us back thus far, as I'm sure you know:

  • effective altruism's limited size as a community, up until now, limiting its ability to be a substantial actor by any measure in the crowded area of climate change and environmental problem mitigation.

  • up until now, the lack of identifying the most important, neglected, and tractable problems resulting from climate change, and other human interference into the environment, such that effective altruism will intersect with the climate activism and environmental movements for interventions that may currently be atypical of those movements.

I think why there is a lot of fruitful ground to be found here is that effective altruism can leverage its edge in identifying the best interventions, and scale them up on the back of these other, much larger social movements to their fullest potential. This seems an eminent possibility as what motivates effective altruists and environmentalists to due as much good as they can are concerns for three reference classes of beneficiaries: currently living humans (in terms of individual well-being, and in general); non-human animals; and future generations (in terms of GCRs/x-risks). The theory behind all this is laid out here, by Michelle Hutchinson of Giving What We Can. I guess environmentalism also cares about the intrinsic value of 'life', in terms of whole ecosystems, and biodiversity, more than the same is emphasized in effective altruism.

This is an exciting time because all of us right now are contributing to the precipitation of climate-related concerns as a stalwart cause in effective altruism. Of course, there is an environmentalism movement aside and older than the current spate of climate activism in the last decade or so, which is concerned with more problems than just climate change itself. I have reservations about the opportunity or ability for effective altruism to collaborate with the sentiment of the broader environmentalist movement, as opposed to its subsection of climate activism, which seems more similar to effective altruism itself. However, I'll save that explanation for another time.

Also, it's great to see CSER finally coming into its own, what with it branching out to evaluate strategy for mitigating multiple x-risks!