kbog did an oopsie! (new meat eater problem numbers)

Edit: this is out of date, see https://​​fo­rum.effec­tivealtru­ism.org/​​posts/​​YuFD4v7DFBcM57eSA/​​con­se­quences-of-an­i­mal-product-con­sump­tion-com­bined-model

The “meat eater prob­lem” is the prob­lem that, the more we en­rich peo­ple, the more meat they will eat—which in­creases an­i­mal suffer­ing.

Well I took my old anal­y­sis here, that was es­ti­mat­ing the mag­ni­tude of the meat eater prob­lem. Then I de­cided to com­bine it with the an­i­mal suffer­ing num­bers from my more re­cent es­ti­mate of the net farm an­i­mal suffer­ing caused by farm­ing.

In the pro­cess I found that my meat eater calcu­la­tion in­cluded a crit­i­cal mis­read­ing of York & Gos­sard. Fish con­sump­tion does in­crease as Afri­can coun­tries get wealthier, by an es­ti­mated 0.79kg an­nu­ally per $1000 GDP.

I’ll sup­pose that 0.6kg out of this marginal in­crease is from farm­ing. I’ll sup­pose that 0.4kg of this is like cat­fish (be­cause the similarly small tilapia is com­monly farmed in Africa and other poor re­gions) and 0.2kg is like salmon.

Plug­ging these num­bers into the an­i­mal welfare spread­sheet as a “diet” (too sim­ple an ac­tion to merit up­load­ing—it’s just the kg quan­tities from the meat eater sheet, plus 0.4k for cat­fish and 0.2kg for salmon) I get −720 welfare day-points for the year’s marginal meat con­sump­tion. This means that a $1,000 in­crease in GDP per cap­ita for a per­son in Africa has an an­i­mal cost that is equiv­a­lent to −2 points on a −100 to +100 scale, which is 4% of the av­er­age welfare differ­ence be­tween liv­ing in In­dia and liv­ing in Canada, us­ing my sen­tience weights. Things may be worse in In­dia/​Bangladesh: pre­sum­ably they fall some­where be­tween the av­er­age re­la­tion­ship for Asia (2.31kg) and the re­la­tion­ship for the West, Africa and the Mid­dle East (0.79kg). The au­thors sug­gest that cul­tural fac­tors drive the differ­ence.

I’m ig­nor­ing the cli­mate change costs of meat con­sump­tion be­cause that can and should be left as part of the more gen­eral ques­tion of the link be­tween eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and long run GHG emis­sions. In any case, GHG emis­sions only make a rel­a­tively small differ­ence on any short or medium run out­look, as I ar­gued when I posted the farm­ing anal­y­sis.

Given these as­sump­tions about an­i­mal farm­ing (which point heav­ily to­wards an­i­mal char­ity in the first place, any­way—see Shul­man’s com­ment in the origi­nal meat eater prob­lem thread) I think these num­bers sug­gest gen­eral ag­nos­ti­cism about the di­rect im­pacts of eco­nomic growth aside from the ques­tion of wild an­i­mal suffer­ing. I would make an ex­cep­tion for pul­ling peo­ple out of se­ri­ous poverty be­cause the wealth-welfare re­la­tion­ship is solidly log­a­r­ith­mic. Per Foot­note 7, York & Gos­sard seem to think that nei­ther a lin­ear model (which they pre­sent, be­cause it’s sim­pler) nor a log­a­r­ith­mic model (which they claim to have done) is de­ci­sively a bet­ter fit for the re­la­tion­ship be­tween wealth and an­i­mal con­sump­tion.