Anon asks: “Do you think climate change is neglected within EA?”
I think there’s a weird vibe where EA can feel ‘anti’ climate change work, and I think that’s an issue. I think the etiology of that sentiment is (i) some people raising climate change work as a proposal to benefit the global poor, and I think it’s very fair to argue that bednets do better than the best climate change actions with respect to that specific goal; (ii) climate change gets a lot of media time, including some claims that aren’t scientifically grounded (e.g. that climate change will literally directly kill everyone on the planet), and some people (fairly) respond negatively to those claims.
But climate change is a huge problem, and working on clean tech, nuclear power, carbon policy etc are great things to do. And I think the upsurge of concern about the rights of future generations that we’ve seen from the wider public over the last couple of decades is really awesome, and I think that longtermists could do more to harness that concern and show how concern for future generations generalises to other issues too. So I want to be like, ‘Yes! And….’ with respect to climate change.
Then is climate change neglected within EA? My guess is that on the funding side the standard argument of ‘if neartermist, fund global health; if longtermist, fund AI / bio / other’ is probably approximately right. (Though you might want to offset your lifetime GHG emissions on non-consequentialist grounds.) But I think that neglectedness considerations play out very differently for allocation of labour, and so I don’t think it’s clear what to think in the case of career choice. If, for example, someone were going into nuclear policy, or devising a clever way of making a carbon tax politically feasible, or working on smart intergovernmental policies like REDD+, I’d think that was really cool; whether it was their best option would depend on the person and their other options.