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Based on a few individual experiences, concern about climate change vs (perceived/actual) lack of concern in EA seems like a division that might be a sticking point for potential EAs. 

Possible cruxes:

- EA's current material isn't convincing to people who see Global warming as a top priority. 

- This is a sticking point for (some) people who might otherwise join EA. 

- There are many such people. 

It's not super clear to me either way but I'm curious what people think. 




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While I would love to see a more detailed investigation on this issue, my first impressions are that:

  • Current EA material (80k, OpenPhil) seem adequate at explaining why climate change is usually not a big priority area inside the EA community, while being sufficiently didactic and approachable for most people.
  • The material might not be sufficient for a specific group of people: people with experience working on climate change research, activism or public policy.

I'm particularly worried about that last point because I believe there's a lot of amazing talent currently working on climate change which have a greater fit for working in other causes. 

In the same way, reaching activists or influencers working on climate change might be a highly effective way to reach similarly aligned groups of people. 

Anecdotally, I've had climate activists ask me for introductory materials to EA after receiving conflicting information on it, and I would have loved to point out a specific resource better tailored to them.

Edit: Another point might be that we might emphasize too much on x-risk when talking about climate change. I feel like this does a disservice to many readers, especially considering that neglectedness seems like a more general counterargument for working in climate change.

Thanks Agustin, 

I appreciate the clarification and this kind of detail ("people with experience working on climate change research, activism or public policy" as opposed to others). 

Based on this thread, I think we'd be looking for a document that meets the following criteria:

  •  Extends/Summarises current EA material on climate change so that it's clear that EA has made serious attempts to assess it. 
  • A nuanced explanation for the ITN framework, explaining how much of the work on climate change is not-neglected, and which observation
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Agustín Covarrubias
I agree with everything here.  Another thought that came to mind when thinking about this, is whether we should emphasize more on the possibility of a good fit arising from some form of tipping-point analysis.  This is based on the criticisms made by Antonin Broi on the inadequacy of the ITN framework for analyzing opportunities for systemic change, considering the case where there might not be decreasing marginal returns. This can be solved by putting aside neglectedness and instead thinking of tractability as a general function (see here). What this could translate to in terms of advice is emphasizing that climate change could be a good fit when people are well positioned to exert a crucial (close to tipping point) influence on policy change.

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6Answer by Matt_Sharp2y
The Founders Pledge climate report might have what you're looking for.  In particular, see the section on 'Focus on neglected technologies' and the climate report calculations spreadsheet
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How would EAs talk about climate change, if it were a weird niche issue that few people were working on and didn't have any political connotations? One can imagine that "catastrophic climate impacts due to carbon dioxide" would be another EA cause area that made normal people scratch their heads.

Giving a short description from that hypothetical world might be a good way to communicate why EAs worry less about climate in our actual world.

Thanks for the answer. Does this idea of looking at it in that hypothetical word framing have a related post somewhere?

unfortunately no, just idle musings. i would be interested in reading it, though.

I think the answer to this question is simply a big "Yes".

The people who are skeptical I've met often seem very open to being convinced, so a well-written article would clear up a lot (and maybe bring in a bunch of criticism from outside, which I assume is the reason why it hasn't been done yet).

Speaking for myself, I found Open Philanthropy's investigation of Climate Change pretty convincing. Maybe we should publicize it more and see which part people find unconvincing?

To me the big problem with the Open Phil document is that it’s from 2013 which was a long time ago both in terms of the evolution of EA and in terms of climate policy. Given the volume of public interest in the topic, it’s probably worth investing in an up to date treatment (and one that is kept up to date) that serves as a primer on neglectedness, true existential risk, and other key considerations without coming across as totally oblivious

Just wanted to point out that the 80,000 hours problem profile on Climate Change (published on May this year) might fit what you're describing. I still think there are significant improvements to be made (discussed on my comment on the answers section).

Are we including 80k's problem profile on Climate Change here? This is the explanation that is included in the handbook (and in the intro fellowship) seemingly, precisely for this reason.

My general sense of the 80k handbook is that it is very careful to emphasise uncertainty and leaves room for people to project existing beliefs without updating. 

For example:

Working on this issue seems to be among the best ways of improving the long-term future we know of, but all else equal, we think it’s less pressing than our highest priority areas.

I value the integrity that 80k has here, but I think something shorter, with more direct comparisons to other cause areas, might be more effective. 

While I agree in general, the problem is “something shorter, with more direct comparisons to other cause areas” might have the opposite effect. That is the kind of argument that could induce emotional rejection on people that have already spent significant resources (or have modeled their identities) on fighting climate change. For that specific group of people, you probably need something with significantly more nuance.

That's fair. I'll keep thinking about it but this was helpful, thanks.

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