All of jackv's Comments + Replies

Does climate change deserve more attention within EA?

If research on that front yielded results, that would certainly be valuable.

But compare that task to the work that climate advocates have been doing for decades. Educating away people's political convictions has seen very limited success when it comes to convincing them that radical action on climate is needed. A similar effort on nuclear power might take decades more (which we don't have; as we know, there's a ticking clock).

The conservative-support argument is interesting, but IMO also flawed. Andrew Sullivan, influential conservative wri... (read more)

4dpiepgrass3yI would point out that this has been largely liberals trying to convince conservatives about climate science; cross-tribe communication is pretty difficult. Indeed, I wonder if support for nuclear among conservatives stems as much from opposing the "liberal media"'s scare mongering than anything else. There's been some success, at least on the left, from efforts to get the word out about "the" 97% consensus among climate scientists. Educating people on the left seems like an easier problem - there are die-hard anti-nukes who can't be convinced, but they're a small minority. AFAIK no one has seriously attempted the educational resource I propose, so before saying it can't work I think it's worth trying. We do have some stuff like Gordon [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9M__yYbsZ4] McDowell's [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9M__yYbsZ4] videos [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9M__yYbsZ4] that basically targets maven personalities like myself, but I found that it still doesn't provide all the information I need to get a complete mental model for nuclear power. An educational site is not enough by itself to change public opinion, but it could at least be valuable to maven-type people who want to change minds about nuclear power but don't have good sources of information that they can link to and learn from. Public opinion is a very hard nut to crack, but what about the media? I would guess that influencers like Jon Oliver probably got some of their information from SkepticalScience [https://www.skepticalscience.com/], so I think public education may be able to percolate to the people by first percolating up to the media.
Does climate change deserve more attention within EA?

I agree with you and bdixon that emission reduction should be a serious priority for EA, and also that we shouldn't minimize its direct effects on human beings. The WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050 deaths from climate change will reach 250,000 per year. Right now, its likely over 200,000 per year. These deaths don't come simply from heat stress, but also from diseases moving into higher latitudes, droughts, water stress, etc. My understanding is that this estimate does not include the impacts of war and conflict, which are also increasing... (read more)

1dpiepgrass3yI am very much aware. That's what I think we should take steps to address. Providing educational resources isn't enough by itself, but it's a necessary step.
5vaidehi_agarwalla3yI would say the question at least warrants thorough research from the community (I'm unaware if this has already been done) - on whether public opinion can change through education, on promising countries/regions with higher rates of public support (no history of nuclear disaster) that are equipped to implement it safely. This may not be a globally scalable solution, but if even a few players adopt nuclear it could draw more investment/improve the technology and potentially make it more feasible for others. For example, in Pennsylvania 40% of all energy and 93% of carbon-free energy comes from nuclear, but only 1 in 10 [https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2019/03/28/poll-public-is-split-on-whether-state-should-act-to-prop-up-nuclear-industry/] know that nuclear energy is carbon-free with certainty. It seems to me that public education could potentially be effective, especially because there appears to be [https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/04/18/republicans-can-own-the-libs-on-climate-change-by-defending-nuclear-plants-on-the-brink/#5ddf0b142bd1] conservative support for nuclear.