Thanks for following up on this and posting a correction. I’d suggest updating your original post to include your updated fish consumption estimates. Or if that’s too much work, a correction on that post with a link to this new one would be helpful. As it stands now, it still says: “I also excluded fish because there is no significant correlation between income and fish consumption in African countries.” I think people are likely to find your original post when researching the meat eater problem, especially since the corresponding EA Concepts page cites it.
Since there are less than 1 million elephants alive today, even if each elephant has modestly more moral value than each human, elephant welfare is still very unlikely to meet the importance criteria.
Thanks for the feedback! Yes, I agree that many of the considerations for fishmeal and fish oil are similar. I originally wrote this post a long time ago which is why I did not reference your report in it, but I’ve now included it under “Some useful sources.”
A few comments on your report:
Your report says: “These days, any of the fish that are farmed more intensively around the world are carnivorous … ” This was confusing on a first read, but I assume that was a typo and you meant many? As far as I know, the vast majority of farmed fish are omnivorous or herbivorous.
I don’t think it’s correct to say that the fishmeal industry is on the decline. This World Bank report projects low growth through 2030. The current numbers are very high as well. Amongst vertebrates used by humans, feed fish are near the top in number of individuals.
You mention cultured meat as a possibility. A major obstacle to the competitiveness of cultured meat is the need for very low-cost culture media. See Open Phil’s report. To me it seems the approach of growing proteins and fatty acids in yeast, plants, etc. is likely to be relatively more feasible. As you note, companies are working on this already.
As of last month, fishmeal prices seem to be far more expensive than the number you mention, at $1470 per metric ton. Soybean meal prices have increased too though, at $353 per metric ton.
I’m surprised that “After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation” did not win, given that:
It started an important conversation, likely valuable for people seeking EA jobs, people providing EA career advice, and people hiring for EA jobs.
It generated 259 upvotes and 177 comments, which is more than I remember ever seeing.
It must have been unusually difficult for the author to write.
Perhaps a prompt to give optional anonymous, private, and/or brief constructive feedback after each upvote/downvote could help posters learn what was good/bad about the post while avoiding most of the costs of posting a lengthy comment.
The eligibility criteria seems to rule out nearly all EA-aligned organizations:
“Nominees must meet the following requirements to be eligible … ”
“Legal residents of one (1) of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or Canada (excluding Quebec) (“Territory”)”
“A creator or founder of a social impact organization (“Organization”) that … Has a primary objective related to improving health, education, or esteem or to leadership development and serves low- and middle-income women and/or children in the Territory. (The Organization may have tangential operations outside of the Territory, but, to be eligible for this contest, its core mission and programming must be directed within the Territory.)
I agree with Jim’s comment above. As the graph here suggests, the supply of wild fish appears to have been flat since the 90s, and the increase in demand has been met by the supply of farmed fish. So I think it’s likely that consumption of wild fish will just cause someone else to consume farmed fish instead.
With regard to fish oil: Most of it originates from small wild fish such as anchovies. There’s an entire industry dedicated to harvesting fish oil and fishmeal, and most of it is used as feed for carnivorous farmed fish like salmon. Fish oil seems to be mostly supply constrained as well, and the aquaculture industry is responding by feeding carnivorous fish more plant oils. I’ve written about this here and here, and should probably move these to the EA Forum now that less polished posts are encouraged.
Thanks for working on this! I’m impressed by this and your other work on identifying and investigating groups of farmed animals that exist in large numbers but have been overlooked by other EAs, researchers, advocates, etc.
There is also a discussion of the paper on Facebook.
Government social safety nets for elderly people (such as Social Security in the US) reduce the need for young adults to provide direct care to their elderly parents. This seems likely related.
To me this seems more of an expansion in moral circles though. Most of us in the developed world now seem to think that we’re responsible for everyone’s elderly parents rather than just our own.
An update: We’ve sent follow-up e-mails to all organizations expected to receive a nontrivial amount of donations and/or matches informing them the amounts they should be receiving. Some organizations have helpfully reported to us the donated, matched, and/or total amounts that either (a) Facebook informed them they’ll be receiving or (b) they’ve already received. For the organizations that have reported at least some of this information, the table under “Estimated from Fundraisers vs. Reported by Organizations” on our “Donated and Matched Data” page shows the amounts we’ve estimated from fundraiser page data vs. the amounts reported to us by the organizations.
This announcement today on GiveWell’s blog looks relevant. It seems GiveWell is beginning to look at interventions consistent with a hits-based giving approach.
Yes, this was a problem in both 2017 and 2018, and our 2018 match percent would have been higher than 65% without these problems. I think Cullen’s estimates account for this though.
In 2018 we conducted a survey try to to understand this better. We should be able to use some of the results to make better recommendations in 2019.
I don’t think Facebook permits automated donations, so I don’t think this will be feasible.
Thanks for all this work on this! A few comments and questions:
1. I think there’s another important benefit that I didn’t see mentioned: There’s a risk that people’s donations may be influenced towards less effective organizations just for the tax deduction. Permitting people to get tax deductions when donating to a wide variety of effective organizations can help mitigate this risk. My guess is that this is a more important consideration than tax deductions providing incentives to donate more.
2. Do Canadian donors already have a way to get tax deductions for donating to EA Funds? It seems like it could be worthwhile to give Canadian donors this option, though the benefits would need to be weighed against any administrative overhead it would create for RC and CEA.
3. Have you thought about permitting something like an optional 5% “tip” when people make their donations to help fund your operations? Perhaps opt-in by default? I have seen this option Crowdfunding websites, for instance. GiveWell also has an optional 10% “tip,” though they’re opt-out by default, and their value-add is different.
It’s also notable that PayPal announced that they were doing a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $500k in donations through the PayPal Giving Fund on Giving Tuesday, separately from the Facebook match.
That post was made on Giving Tuesday itself and the details there are very limited, but I found this post by an organization with a date of Nov 23, along with the match start and end time. I’m going to dig into this some more. Maybe we can ask some EA-aligned organizations signed up for the PayPal Giving Fund if they can keep an eye out for this and give us an early tipoff.
A number of people got $20k matched out of $20k donations. This required 8 donations of $2500 each.
I think improving recruitment could help. I did recruit people in late September 2018 after Facebook dropped a hint that they would do a repeat, but in retrospect it may have helped to focus on recruiting individuals who would be able to commit to 80 hours (or whatever) if necessary.
This might not be so easy though, since I suspect most people with the skills to do this well are already working on other things and would have difficulty sparing that many hours. Perhaps compensation (e.g. through a grant) could help, but I’m not sure.
I also don’t think having large numbers of people each working 10 hours would help, because managing, training, and delegating tasks to that many people would be impractical.
Thanks for the suggestion. I already had EA Grants in mind as an option, but it’s interesting to know that the EA Meta Fund lists a fundraising project as an example. As William noted, we were more time constrained rather than funding constrained this year. However, I’ll keep this in mind as an option for future years if our circumstances change, or if we can come up with effective ways to convert funding into time.
One other complication with applying for a grant is that we wont know whether there’s a worthwhile opportunity until a month or so in advance. After that, if there is a worthwhile opportunity, then we’d need to start working immediately. So we’d probably need to apply for a grant early and, if a worthwhile opportunity doesn’t materialize, then we’d need to (a) use the grant to work on something else or (b) return it.