I work as a Digital Media Manager at Charity Entrepreneurship. I come from Poland and live in London. I hold a PhD in Philosophy and wrote a book (in Polish) about the moral status of animals. I’ve been a vegan and animal activist for 20 years now.


Launching a new resource: 'Effective Altruism: An Introduction'

Since I come from the EAA side of effective altruism I feel like Lewis Bollard's podcast is really missing here. I would dearly appreciate it,  if when you use the term "Effective Altruism: An Introduction" there was EAA representation included in the introductory materials, especially that in the countries like Poland (where I am from) EA-mind folks are mostly coming from the animal movement and are drawn to EA because of effective animal advocacy. 
Or maybe just worth re-naming to: 80,000 Hours Introduction to Effective Altruism?

Why start a family planning charity? (Founders needed)

Hi Rafael,

Thanks for your thoughtful response – it’s great to hear your impressions on our research!

"Do you know of other organizations that follow this approach, given your point that this is one of the few times a woman will come in contact with the health system?"

The expert view section of our report (p. 16) has the most information about other actors in the space. Key points:

  • Several groups (e.g. FP2020, FHI360, USAID, IntraHealth) are working on PPFP due to the strong evidence of its effectiveness, but only a few specialize in it – most work on PPFP alongside other family planning interventions. 
  • Jhpiego came up in conversation with experts as a key actor working on PPFP. 
  • Overall it seems that, while some work is taking place to promote PPFP, there’s still a lot that remains to be done – particularly in neglected geographies.

"Your estimate for the cost of one tonne of CO2 averted (3 tonnes per USD spent or 0.33 USD per tonne of CO2 averted) would place your intervention among some of the most cost-effective for climate change. Is this generalizable to family planning in general and, if so, how?… That leads me to think that family planning and fulfilling unmet contraceptive needs would generally be a very effective intervention to support for multiple outcomes. What is your view on that? Is this generalizable to other countries or not?"

In the specific case of family planning, CE is uncertain but optimistic that family planning and fulfilling unmet contraceptive needs can be impactful on a range of outcomes. However, we don’t think that CEAs should be taken at face value and are very uncertain of the true effect on climate change. More in-depth work is needed to estimate the effect.  You can read more about our thoughts in our blog post on why we chose to research family planning. Project Drawdown also has a nice summary. The organization Having Kids is also doing some work that might interest you. 

Founders Pledge has previously analyzed the effect of lifestyle changes that could affect the climate and looked into “having one fewer child”. The results change dramatically depending on whether or not you account for policy changes leading to reductions in future generations’ emissions. 

All that to say, we would be cautious about generalizing more broadly, and would not expect the same numbers to apply. This is also why for example we discount studies that take place in different contexts when examining the evidence for a particular intervention: generalizations get messy.

As a quick example for how generalizations about family planning and climate change can get tricky: per capita emissions are much higher in first world countries than in developing contexts, but fertility rates (i.e. the average number of children born to each woman) are much lower. If we want to compare the two, we need to account for these and many other such differences. CE hasn’t looked into this question in depth, although our implementation report (which we share with co-founders) lists a couple more countries in addition to Ghana and Nigeria as potentially promising. 

We hope that helps answer your questions! Thanks again for engaging with our research. :)

How we averted 130,000 animal deaths (in expectation) with a volunteer campaign.

Hey James, 
I don't know how it is now, but I worked at ProVeg Poland (so a country chapter like ProVeg UK) like 3 years ago and we worked on everything extremely slowly so i.e. a person that will be working on a campaign would have to ask the graphic people to design the graphics, then they would have to consult with the country manager, the manager would have a meeting with other country managers, these country managers were managed by a person from the leadership and the leadership would have their own meetings. On top of that, there was one international HR department that will do evaluations with employees, and there will be accountants that would deal with the salary, you would also spend time on being trained, conferences, team meetings, yearly reports, consulting PR department, country office, office costs etc. So like in each single thing you wanted to do in a country there was a huge team involved. I would definitely talk to them to get REAL numbers. I think this will impact your cost-effectiveness. 

How we averted 130,000 animal deaths (in expectation) with a volunteer campaign.

Hi James, 

I can't spend too much time on this right now but at a first glance I can potentially see two major problems: 

1) Problem with collecting the data  that should show the effect

2) Problem with calculating the costs

With the 1) to count the animals spared by 1 plant-based day you would have to check stuff like:

  • what kind of meal was replaced (beef/ chicken/ fish, so e.g. beef will mean fewer animals spared, because people eat a smaller portion of the animal, fish will mean more animals spared);
  • was the supply chain affected (so e.g. maybe it only means that instead of 2 chicken wings there are 3 served on Thursday because Friday is plant-based day)
  • are the kids eating the plant-based meals in the long run, or they bring meat sandwiches from home for that day, because they don't like the plant-based alternative; or they eat extra meat at home in the evening to compensate for the lack of meat at school that day;

So these are just very few examples of many factors that should be accounted for in the calculations.

With the 2) to measure the cost you need not only focus on direct hours spent by a volunteer and PV employee but stuff like: 

  • who is managing volunteers and how much time they put into: recruiting the volunteer, train the volunteer, and manage the volunteer weekly; and how much time the volunteer put into direct work but also in travel, etc.
  • when you count the time of ProVeg: the cost would be not only how much a person earns per hour that works directly on the campaign but also multiple costs like the cost of producing a leaflet/ PDF/ printed materials, the cost of the time manager spend on managing the person and training the person that is working on this campaign etc. (so e.g. in case of a more corporate-structured organization like ProVeg it will be: time of a person working directly on the campaign, graphic designer time, web developer time, research person time, manager and manager of a manager time and their boss too, HR person time, accountant time, office costs, utilities costs like coffee, juice, tea, printing materials etc.); and you only factored earnings per hour so it seems?

So yeah this is just a quick remark and a top of an iceberg if you want to really measure the impact of this intervention. I hope this will give you a sense of how you can go about it, because there is only one study on this type of intervention and if I remember correctly it was either not effective at all or barely effective. Hopefully, someone will find a link, so you can check how they went about the calculations. 

Open and Welcome Thread: March 2021

Hey  Rwoehrle, 
Thanks for sharing! I think it's always good to take a very pragmatic approach towards donating. As long as you have a debt to pay, it seems like it's worth putting money into that, and building a safety net for yourself first (a bit like putting an oxygen mask on yourself before you gonna get one on your child). When it comes to volunteering for animal groups, I'd recommend ACE top charities, or charities that are founded by Open Philanthropy or Animal Welfare Found, they should be kind of safe bets. Personally, I like The Humane League, and orgs around Open Wing Alliance (because this is an intervention that seems to be proven to be net positive for chickens). You can look for online volunteer opportunities with them. E.g. I work for an EA organization full time, but recently decided to donate some hours of graphic work to Fish Welfare Initiative. Maybe you can think of things you like to do, and the skills you have and go from that. I think that volunteering is a great thing, and you can start with as little as 1-2 hours a week. 
Also, try to join this group with EA Online Events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EAOnlineEvents to connect with the community online until you will find (or maybe start) a group near you. All the best!

AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd

How one should go about learning how to write high-quality material? And what is the way to get it published?

AMA: Tom Chivers, science writer, science editor at UnHerd

Approaching journalists:

  1. How can we reach them?
  2. What is the best way to pitch an idea to a journalist?
  3. Do press releases still work? (Is it worth sending them to the contact emails, since it's hard often to get direct contact)
  4. Maybe Twitter is a good idea?
AMA: Lewis Bollard, Open Philanthropy

Would love to see an answer to this. The report is pessimistic, but it's unclear if it's never or 50 years. I hope Lewis will get back to this question!

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