Dr. David Denkenberger received his B.S. from Penn State in Engineering Science, his masters from Princeton in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Building Systems Program. His dissertation was on his patented expanded microchannel heat exchanger. He is an assistant professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks in joint in mechanical engineering and Alaska Center for Energy and Power. He co-founded and directs the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters ( and donates half his income to it. He received the National Merit Scholarship, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, is a Penn State distinguished alumnus, and is a registered professional engineer. He has authored or co-authored 104 publications (>2000 citations, >50,000 downloads, h-index = 23, third most prolific author in the existential/global catastrophic risk field (, including the book Feeding Everyone no Matter What: Managing Food Security after Global Catastrophe. His food work has been featured in over 25 countries, over 200 articles, including Science, Vox, Business Insider, Wikipedia, Deutchlandfunk (German Public Radio online), Discovery Channel Online News, Gizmodo,, and Science Daily. He has given interviews on 80,000 Hours podcast and Estonian Public Radio, WGBH Radio, Boston, and WCAI Radio on Cape Cod, USA. He has given over 80 external presentations, including ones on food at Harvard University, MIT, Princeton University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Cornell University, University of California Los Angeles, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos National Lab, Imperial College, and University College London.


Towards zero harm: animal-free and land-free food

We found that the economics of hydrogen single cell protein could be promising in a catastrophe if it had low cost energy. Basically look at where aluminum refining is done-cheap hydropower or coal (which could have carbon sequestration).

Towards zero harm: animal-free and land-free food

I'm glad that GFI is including fermentation now. Greenhouses can be good, but I would be cautious of artificial light (vertical farming). What advocates typically don't say is the energy use and cost - even if we used all the electricity in the world, we could only feed ~5% of people and even with current electricity costs, it would be >$100/dry kilogram.

[Question] Pros/Cons of Donor-Advised Fund

I'm fairly sure I could change custodians if that happened (like people can do with retirement accounts).

[Question] Pros/Cons of Donor-Advised Fund

Calculate the expected return of the investments based off a 7 year mean reversion (GMO) or 10 year mean reversion (Research Affiliates).

No More Pandemics: a lobbying group?

Sounds very promising.

Nuclear war:
Already has lots of activism happening (e.g. CND)
Less likely to cause severe (extinction-level) catastrophes than bio risks

I would agree that there is a lot of activism on preventing nuclear war and reducing arsenals, but there is not much on having backup plans.

I agree that the existential threat from engineered pandemics is probably greater than nuclear war, but the existential threat from natural pandemics is probably less than nuclear war.

CEA Mid-year update (2020)

This is very helpful. Did you do any benchmarking for retention? Do you know what the convention is for counting part-time versus full-time, interns, student employees, etc.? Voluntary versus involuntary turnover?

Halffull's Shortform

Some of the agricultural catastrophes that the solutions that the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) are working on address include super crop disease, bacterium that out competes beneficial bacteria, and super crop pest (animal), all of which could be related to genetic modification.

Estimation of probabilities to get tenure track in academia: baseline and publications during the PhD.

In the US, about half of people who start PhD programs get the degree. Also, a big factor that I thought I commented about here (I guess they removed comments) is that most tenure track positions at least in the US are teaching intensive, so there is not much time for research.

How do political scientists do good?

This says a trebling of grain prices is likely if there is an abrupt 10% food production shortfall. Rice price ~tripled in a year in 2007 - the shortfall was small but there were a lot of export restrictions. There has been some work on the correlation of food prices and riots and other political turmoil.

How do political scientists do good?

Good questions-usually when EAs talk about loss of civilization, they mean a loss of electricity/industry globally, or a loss of cooperation outside the tribe globally (loss of cities, the anthropological definition of civilization). One recent 80,000 Hours podcast guest estimated 10% chance of collapse of civilization with 2°C slow global warming. This has a survey with large variation in the percentage loss in value of the long-term future associated with full-scale nuclear war and with 10% agricultural shortfalls (e.g. regional nuclear war, such as India Pakistan). This has a poll with large variation in the percentage loss in the value of long-term future associated with either 10% or global loss of electricity/industry. This has a collection of existential risk estimates, and some relate to loss of civilization.

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