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.
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?
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:
"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. :)
Can't find a link to MM CEAs?
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!
How one should go about learning how to write high-quality material?
And what is the way to get it published?
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!