Moult's Comments

Effective altruism and net-positive living

Good morning @aarongertler!

Thank you very much for your comment.

For the statement about biocapacity, I observe that the ability for life to exist is a requirement for any altruistic behaviour to occur. Your critique about the timing is a valid point: without studying timelines, it is possible that we can target other issues first, and then later target our lavish resource consumption. That said, the topic of the article is about net-positive living :) I have reworded the sentence as follows:

In the long-term, in addition to tackling human-specific problems, there is a more fundamental issue that all other initiatives need to comply with.


Personally, I believe ethical offsetting is not enough. It can be used as a "better than nothing" strategy, but I place a higher priority on lifestyle changes than financial contributions. Your critiques on complexity costs sound correct. I have updated the summary to add links that criticise cost-effectiveness calculations and ethical offsetting.

The largest advantage for me is that it challenges a common attitude that I encounter of "the world has many complex problems, and I am too small and unable to change the world". I believe this approach of methodical quantification helps people digest large problems and challenges them to think where they can make an impact most. I emphasize the following at the end of my article:

Everybody will have their own unique and valuable contributions to the world, so I urge all readers to research, evaluate, and do the best you can, in your own way.
We can change things.


Thanks for the link! I have added it to the article. It is also worthwhile noting that the Cool Earth website donation system itself calculates tCO2eq for your donation, and their number is (from memory) about 5 times more than the 0.71 USD per tCO2eq that I mention in my article.