Environmentalism isn't a popular focus in EA, because it seems more positive to help stop people suffering and dying. I agree with that. However, I think many of us do care about the environment and are deeply concerned about climate change, and may even get into debates about it.
I see a few arguments for an Effective Environmentalism effort:
- Good information exists – quantitative, probabilistic and rational approaches to environmental issues. As examples I nominate Sustainable Energy – without the hot air and the Ecomodernist Manifesto.
- Inaccurate information is often better known than good information, especially in the broader population. The most prominent environmental organisations (e.g. Green parties, Greenpeace) tend to have ideological positions on some major issues, rather than evidence-based positions. Some of this bad info is very hard to tackle (climate change denialism or ideological opposition to certain energy sources, or support of other sources) but some may be more possible to address. E.g. environmentalists repeating incorrect information about energy production or prioritising things that have negligible impact – I think it's relatively easy to contribute constructively to such discussions.
- Environmental debate is largely polarised and ineffective. Creating opportunities for more constructive discussion could be very helpful.
- Large amounts of money and time are spent on environmental issues. If it's possible to nudge even a small amount towards more effective action, this could be a significant positive.
- We have a Facebook group – largely as a way of discovering who is interested in EE. (If you're not on Facebook, then you're probably very sensible – let me know and I'll keep you in the loop.)
- We had a discussion group on the topic at EAGx Melbourne 2016. The group raised issues including impact per person, scaling & influence, marginal impact of environmental action (and how that compares to other actions that would prevent a certain amount of suffering or death), and individual vs collective action (e.g. what is the market effect of me not consuming something, and how does that compare with political action?)
FWIW I don't see myself as a movement leader, but I do know a bit about environmental stuff (studied water engineering many years ago, have done some work in environmental engineer (technical writing on low carbon energy technologies). And I'm happy to be a contact person and organiser, and be involved in other ways. We have a bunch of informed and engaged people involved, and I'm interested to see who steps up and what emerges.
Edited to add:
See also on this forum:
Effective Altruism, Environmentalism, and Climate Change: An Introduction – by Evan_Gaensbauer on 10 March 2016
Suggestion for forum posts:
Use tags, e.g. environmentalism, climate.