Advice Wanted on Expanding an EA Project

As I have writ­ten about be­fore, I think get­ting pre­pared for agri­cul­tural catas­tro­phes is a way to save ex­pected lives cheaper than global poverty in­ter­ven­tions (the pa­per with the num­bers is un­der re­view). This would also re­duce the chance of the col­lapse of civ­i­liza­tion, from which we may not re­cover. This prepa­ra­tion would cost near the or­der of tens of mil­lions of dol­lars. Though this is ex­tremely cost effec­tive, what would likely be even more cost-effec­tive is ac­cel­er­at­ing the time at which we ac­tu­ally get pre­pared. Every day de­lay on get­ting pre­pared costs ex­pected lives per day near the or­der of 1000. With this ur­gency, I am ex­tremely ded­i­cated to this pro­ject. Here I seek feed­back on the best way to ac­com­plish this ac­cel­er­a­tion.

So far, I have vol­un­teered sev­eral thou­sand hours for the Global Catas­trophic Risk In­sti­tute re­search­ing and pub­li­ciz­ing al­ter­nate foods. I have funded this es­say con­test to raise aware­ness and hope­fully get peo­ple to do more re­search and to help co­a­lesce a team of re­searchers. I am also fund­ing a per­son with UN-re­lated ex­pe­rience part-time to help with net­work­ing (I got meet­ings with a cou­ple high-pro­file peo­ple), run the es­say con­test, and start writ­ing a draft re­sponse plan for the UN/​planet.

Some pos­si­bil­ities for fu­ture ac­cel­er­a­tion pro­jects in­clude:

1. Me an­nounc­ing a dona­tion of ~half of my in­come in con­nec­tion with the very low cost per life saved (pub­lished or en­dorsed) and ask­ing for ad­di­tional fund­ing (hope­fully sig­nifi­cant me­dia story). Even if the fund­ing did not come in, the more peo­ple who are aware of the solu­tions, the more likely that they will ac­tu­ally get im­ple­mented, even with­out gov­ern­ment prepa­ra­tion. If the fund­ing did come in, we would need to de­cide the best way to use it (some op­tions be­low).
2. A wargame like this one but with a more se­ri­ous agri­cul­tural catas­tro­phe. This could at­tract high pro­file peo­ple to at­tend, and me­dia at­ten­tion.
3. Me quit­ting my day job as a pro­fes­sor (I am moon­light­ing as a con­sul­tant) so I can be full time on this (this could be in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Global Catas­trophic Risk In­sti­tute or some other in­sti­tute). My great­est skills are con­ceiv­ing of and do­ing the ini­tial re­search on GCR solu­tions. So I would prob­a­bly fo­cus more on food with­out in­dus­try: if there were an ex­treme so­lar storm, mul­ti­ple high-al­ti­tude elec­tro­mag­netic pulses, or a su­per com­puter virus (Stuxnet on steroids), this could dis­able elec­tric­ity globally and thus in­dus­try. Once we do the ini­tial re­search, we could be in po­si­tion to ad­vo­cate for get­ting pre­pared for these catas­tro­phes as well. I still an­ti­ci­pate sig­nifi­cant dona­tion be­cause of con­sult­ing and be­cause the in­vest­ment I shared with this fo­rum has done so well.
4. Try to get a paid po­si­tion where I could do al­ter­nate food work (challeng­ing).
5. A me­dia led strat­egy—maybe with sce­nario train­ing (war gam­ing) for jour­nal­ists from CNN or BBC or Na­tional Geo­graphic and sev­eral big coun­tries role-play­ing the hot seat po­si­tions—and then tak­ing it up as a cause cele­bre in their own me­dia.
6. Fo­cus in on the re­sponse plan: once a draft ex­ists, it al­lows oth­ers to re­act and do a bet­ter one, or do a com­pli­men­tary one for their own coun­try and con­ti­nent.
7. Philan­thropist hunt
8. There is also the ar­gu­ment that most peo­ple would be most ex­cited about ob­ject level in­ter­ven­tions (e.g. ac­tu­ally do­ing the de­tailed re­search on solu­tions to food with­out the sun), ver­sus meta (ad­vo­cat­ing for other peo­ple to do the ob­ject level in­ter­ven­tions). So an­other op­tion would be start­ing to fund (or do) this di­rect work, and hop­ing the re­sult will be ac­cel­er­a­tion of over­all prepa­ra­tion. Also we could try to find and in­fluence the peo­ple (e.g. USA, UK, China) who can com­mis­sion re­search in this area.
9. Get­ting some­one on site where a lot of ac­tion is hap­pen­ing, like Wash­ing­ton, DC or Rome (UN af­fili­ates).

I am con­flat­ing my per­sonal ca­reer de­ci­sions and the ac­cel­er­a­tion of the pro­ject. But this is be­cause I am the pri­mary per­son do­ing/​fund­ing this pro­ject.

I am also very open to other sug­ges­tions.

Edit: here is the cost per life saved pa­per now that it is pub­lished.


The value
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