All of Pawntoe4's Comments + Replies

The case for delaying solar geoengineering research

Hi John, thanks for the reply, I wasn't expecting one after this long but I am pleased about the thoroughness and thought you put into it.

  1. Yes, I think it's likely to be catastrophic (not extinction risk). If your assertion that it is only likely to be used when warming is 4C+, your whole argument is moot because that is already past the point of no return. From the base that 4C+ is an unacceptable situation, you would immediately be making the case that SG should be funded and accelerated by your own following argument - that currently policy and resear

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7John G. Halstead2yThanks for this - have some quick replies below 1. If solar geoengineering is not going to be used until we get to 4 degrees, then there is no point in researching it even if 4 degrees is catastrophic. 2. I agree that the constraints on state action are not perfect. As you say, the saudis fund terrorism and major powers flex their muscles at each other in more or less overt ways. The deployment of solar geoengineering would be on a different order - a huge and bold move. Do I think India would deploy solar geoengineering without the consent of China, risking the almost guaranteed ire of China? No. The bet offer was not rhetorical and still stands if you would like it. We can pick an arbiter to make sure it happens. If you are worried about decaying attention, we could have a shorter timeframe? What do you think is the chance in the next 10 years that someone deploys it? 3. The debate about AI safety seems like a distraction to me - if you showed me that the case was analogous to solar geoengineering research, then I would argue that we should also delay AGI safety research for the same reasons. But it is disanalogous in numerous ways, so I don't see the point in exploring the analogy. Nevertheless... one rationale for AGI safety research is that some people think there is a non-negligible chance of AI in the next 20 years. Indeed, Toby Ord's median estimate is that we will get it in the next 20 years. If you believe that, then the case for AI safety research now is very clear. That is one disanalogy. Secondly, the downsides of AGI research seem minimal. There is some dim possibility that AGI research could lead us to irrationally downplay the risks of AGI, but I have literally never seen this concern brought up before as a reason not to do AGI safety research. As far as I am aware, no-one is not doing AGI safety research because of that consideration. In contrast, in climate there is a pretty much cross-field taboo against against talking about solar geoengin
How hot will it get?

Cloud formation was the biggest unknown feedback loop and efforts to model them more accurately has led to the increase in range. The effects only start at unprecedented levels of warming which is why observational data may not fit.

2John G. Halstead2yright, that's bad news.
On Collapse Risk (C-Risk)

I have tried to lay out in the section on probability, above, that most X-risks are a subset of C-risks as they collapse usually has to happen before an existential event. Most X-risks in their moderate form, such as a nuclear winter lasting a few years, moderate climate change, or a global pandemic seem much more likely to pose a C-risk than an X-risk.

On Collapse Risk (C-Risk)

Thanks for the comment! I am aware about the GCRI and GCRs but I don't see the term getting used much and (in both cases) seem to get conflated with X-risks, but I haven't addressed this at all in the piece so I will add an edit.

Thanks for catching the typo. I've been trying to embed the images but it hasn't been working, so I'm contacting support for help.

The analogy I was making was that socially held values are liable to change and (usually) improve over time, and any specific value might not disqualify a future civilisation from being counted as valuab

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8 things I believe about climate change

This doesn't seem to be the context in which you were dropping the link, seeing as they all have top-level summary numbers that feed into your boundaries and point 1 doesn't say anything about 2m/year being a lower bound, seeing as you are using it as the upper bound. I would like to see these other estimates of climate mortality as they aren't referenced or seem to feed into point 1.

On a meta-level I think disconnecting sources with the context with which you are referencing them is very unfriendly to the reader as they have to wade through... (read more)

8 things I believe about climate change

I think when considering your estimates for 1. it is important to consider the boundaries given by those sources and to contextualise them.

The WHO is only looking at disease burden but even there they are expecting 250k to 2050 (not even looking to 2100) and they estimate that CC will exacerbate malnutrition by 3% of current values - this seems extremely conservative. They don't seem to include the range increases for most other insect-transmitted diseases, just malaria, even within the extremely limited subset of causes they consider.

Impactlab'... (read more)

3Linch2yI think while it's some evidence that he considers his analysis still quite conservative, the most important contextualization of Danny Bresler's analysis, for our very high-level purposes of understanding expert opinion as laymen, is that (iirc) he perceives it to be a new/contrarian position, where most estimates of climate change mortality burden is too low (from his perspective). I also prefer the framing of things I hyperlink as "links I added that I thought might be helpful for helping to understanding the question further," rather than "sources," but I think that was my own fault for trying to write a short post at the possible expense of accuracy.
The case for delaying solar geoengineering research

Hi John, thank you for this piece. I know it's been a long time since you posted this but I wanted to respond to some of your thoughts.

"In my view, solar geoengineering is only likely to be used once warming is quite extreme, roughly exceeding around 4 degrees" - +4C is already endgame and catastrophic in my opinion. Considering that most of the heat is being absorbed by oceans leading to acidification, we'll already be seeing significant sequestration losses as marine animals are unable to build calcium carbonate shells.

"This sug... (read more)

2John G. Halstead2yHello thanks for these interesting comments 1. Do you think that 4 degrees is "endgame and catastrophic" in the sense of being a threat to the long-term flourishing of humanity, or something else? I agree 4 degrees would be bad, but I don't see how that is relevant to my argument. 2. "individual actors may resort to solar geoengineering without worldwide consensus" I argue against it in my piece. If brazil starts doing stratospheric aerosol injection, this would affect weather in the US and other allies - it's not a plausible piece of statecraft in my opinion. You mention the risk of 'rogue actors' deploying it - I don't see an argument against what I said in my piece on this. You are stating one common view in the literature that is especially worried about unilateralism, but I find the other multilateralism take more persuasive. I am happy to offer a bet on this - what do you think the odds are of a single state unilaterally deploying stratospheric aerosol injection for more than 6 months over the next 30 years? I'll offer £500 I win/ £500 you win. Other things equal, understanding the ramifications of SG would be good, but there are costs to doing so, namely mitigation obstruction risk. 3. I agree it would've been better to look more in detail at the effects on Russia and that does update me towards it being bad for them. 4. Not sure I see why the connection to AGI research is relevant here. We should worry about neglect of a solution when that neglect is irrational. I think SG research is neglected for a reason - scientists and funders don't want to do it because they are worried about the moral hazard. 5. "A lot of the warming is already locked into the ocean. Giving another 30 years before starting to research will likely be too late." What do you mean by "a lot"? Emissions until 2080 will have a large effect on what level of warming there will be - it is still technically within our power to follow RCP2.6 or RCP8.5, which would have hugely diffe
How urgent are extreme climate change risks?

I do not disagree that the Vice piece and the think tank research are likely alarmist and unrepresentative, but unfortunately in my opinion John Halstead's analysis and the underlying IPCC reports are entirely too optimistic on the flipside. I think this leaves a lot of room for further serious evaluation of the potential existential risks on climate change.

Firstly, John Halstead's review of existing literature. I was privileged enough to go to his talk EA Global London 2018 which was a summary of this work. It is a very large and understudied fi... (read more)