11 karmaJoined Oct 2021


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Hi Villafana. Sorry I missed this comment earlier! Hope to see you at one of our other upcoming discussion groups if you're local :) 

The goal of this discussion wasn't necessarily to determine if population growth is or isn't an issue (though lately I've seen more concern about declining replacement rates than overpopulation), but to better understanding why people in the EA community have considered population ethics and the different population-related tradeoffs that we might come across. 

You mention housing for homeless people -- that's a great example of a situation that would be helpful to consider from different viewpoints within population ethics. How does it affect the wellbeing of communities who receive this new population? Is it ethical to incentivize people to move into housing or is it undermining individual choice? Is this the best way to increase wellbeing for homeless people who might have different values and desires? (no need to answer these questions, its just an example of how one might try to develop a deeper understanding)

We have enough empty homes to provide every homeless person in the world with 8 and that number of empty homes is only growing, not due to disease - but suicide

Personally I haven't seen any data that shows an increase in available housing due to suicide deaths. I often fall back to Our World in Data, which shows the magnitude of deaths attributed to disease. These issues, such as mental and physical health, are often incredibly complex. 

I've been meaning to try this out, thank you for the friendly reminder :) Anecdotally I've heard that users with limited internet bandwidth might prefer Zoom/google meet to prevent heavy lag on gathertown. Have you run into any issues with that? I just want to be mindful that not all participants come from locations with high speed connections.

Also, is there a schedule where we should signup/reserve the space for reoccurring uses? I'd hate to disrupt someone else's meeting.

I’d recommend looking into Chicago - they distribute free rat-proof garbage bins for residents. 

Also in Chicago, there is a working cat program to deter rodents, run by Treehouse Humane Society. Sterilized feral cats are placed in an area with nuisance rodents. They acclimate in a cage for 2-3 weeks, then are released. During the acclimation period, rodents will smell the cat and start to relocate, likely to move completely once the cats are released.

This is slightly different than this thread, because these working cats are feral. They aren’t adoptable due to behavior; therefore, releasing them outside is their only live outcome. It would be difficult to get a collar on these cats unless they are under anesthesia. 

Community cat advocates argue that since the cats are sterilized and fed periodically, their predatory drive is significantly reduced, when compared to unsterilized and unfed feral cats who are doing the most harm to the bird/mammal populations. Since they are feral, they are more likely to stay hidden and are less likely to be a nuisance than a friendly outdoor pet. 14% of US households admit to feeding outside cats. 

Here are a few considerations which make this invention complex: 

  • The cats need to be fed by humans periodically. If they aren’t fed, they hunt and/or migrate. 
  • The acclimation process is laborious. If it is skipped, I’d say the cats have <50% likelihood of sticking around. 
  • These cats are feral; therefore, it is difficult to recapture them for re-vaccinations. Vets have hinted that the rabies vaccine is actually effective for much longer than the 1-3 year timeframe, and I don’t know if there is publicly-available research to confirm or deny. 
  • Not everyone likes cats, especially ones that are free-roaming outside. There are dozens of complaint types, which can include allergies, cultural aversions, misinformation, etc.
  • This is likely to be more well-received by the public if there is also a cat overpopulation issue (But if you need cats, I promise you there are plenty to go around) 
  • I’m sure there are many others, these just came to mind.

I have firsthand experience with the implementation in field, having run a working cat program in a rural area. If you’d like more information, please reach out!