Lukas Trötzmüller

President 2021 of EA Austria | Co-Founder of EA Graz | Entrepreneur | Circling Facilitator | Running Applied Rationality Workshops

Open to meet potential cofounders or joining an existing EA-aligned startup. Read more:

Current Business:

Topic Contributions


Are there English-speaking meetups in Southeast Germany?

The German-speaking EA meetups I know are all very happy to switch to English whenever non-German-speakers are present. Can't imagine it would be a problem anywhere in the German-speaking world!

Mastermind Groups: A new Peer Support Format to help EAs aim higher

Would you say that inexperienced people benefit less from a Mastermind than experienced people? Or would you say that they benefit so little that a Mastermind is not worth for them?

If your claim is that Masterminds are only worthwhile for experienced people, then I disagree for two reasons:

First, the way I see Masterminds, one core aspect is that a group of peers can be much more effective in thinking through problems than a single individual. This is true even if none of my peers have any experience that I don't have. It is surely not true for any imaginable group, but I would guess it is true in the case of intellectually humble and reasonably smart people with similar values, who come together explicitely to support each other. I personally have managed to solve dozens of tricky personal & professional problems with the help of Masterminds groups - problems which I was not able to solve on my own.

Second, people with little experience might need more personal support and motivation than people who already have a lot of experience. They also have less access to mentoring. Obviously, this is not always true, but it seems plausible.

Jelle Donders's Shortform

I believe a documentary could be a great vehicle to explain EA and get people interested.

Obviously it would need to explain EA principles. But there is also room to include emotion and personal stories. Which might be much more important, in terms of the effect on the viewer.

Perhaps the emotion and personal stories could make up more than half of the film. One documentary that does this really well is "Chasing Ice". It's about James Balog, a photographer documenting climate change by filming glaciers. The film presents the science in a clear way, but it's mostly just a story about one person trying to have an impact with their career. And that has a much bigger effect on the viewer than a pure fact piece. (This film led me on a path to eventually joining EA)

If the goal is to make a documentary that is viewed by a large number of people, then I see a number of challenges:

  1. It would need to be a really good film with a captivating story - not an advertisement, and not an explainer piece.

  2. The quality (both technical as well as artistically) would need to be exceedingly high, and you might need a very experienced team. Or outside help. For example, "Chasing Ice" was made by an inexperienced filmmaker but got help from an Oscar-winning editor.

  3. It might be difficult to get the film distributed to a mass audience. This depends on (1) and (2), but also on the team.

Research help CO2 offsetting/compensation programs: How to evaluate them for impact? Alternatives to carbon offsetting? etc.

What does your definition of "offsetting" include? Only projects that reduce CO2 in a very direct way (e.g. building clean power plants)?

Or would you include political advocacy and research? If so, check out the work of Founders Pledge:

Should I fly instead of taking trains?

According to Founders Pledge estimates, the CO2 savings from donating 100 USD (maybe 1 ton per USD, with high uncertainty) will greatly exceed the emissions from your flight (which might be on the order of magnitude of 1 ton) [1]. Donating USD 100 to Atmosfair, while less effective, would also offset this flight [2]. If you include the value of your time, the cost of the train trip might be far, far higher.

Plane emissions are further complicated, if you live in the EU, by emission certificates - which might cause a counterfactual CO2 saving, when deciding not to fly, of almost zero.

I personally stopped flying in 2015 - but not out of EA considerations. I made that decision because it feels good and unlocks new forms of adventure. It also simplifies my life (by removing certain travel options) and opens up conversations with interesting people who pursue the same lifestyle. I also consider it an exercise in personal growth. It is not a good way to help the climate when compared with donations, and I am open to the possibility of flying again in the future.



Kaleem's Shortform

A new report from Founders Pledge just came out - although it's just an overview article and doesn't go into much depth.

Cost-Effectiveness of Air Purifiers against Pollution

Yes, that's what it is. "We" as in "the author and the reader". There is no co-author or organization involved in this.

Defusing the mitigation obstruction argument against geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal

I like your post because it puts some more backstory behind an argument that many people usually accept for face value.

I don't quite understand this argument:

If we can geoengineer or capture enough to offset 60% of our emissions in 2030, and then in 2031 we reduce our emissions by 1% (as measured at the smokestack), then the environmental damage will not fall from 40% to 39.6%, it will fall to 39%. So it's still a one-percentage-point change whether or not we do geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal.

This assumes that geoengineering will cause effects equivalent to removing a certain amount of CO2 from the athmosphere. So each additional ton of CO2 still has the same effect. Is that a good model for the effects of geoengineering? I would naively assume that geoengineering could, by blocking sunlight through aerosols, reduce the impact that every ton of CO2 in the athmosphere has. If this is the case, then 39.6% would be accurate and the argument wouldn't work.

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