What the hell? It’s just a more specific version of the point in inadequate equilibria, and don’t you want to know if you can do something better?
Presumably the reason why people are roleplaying everything in the first place is because, you’ll be seen badly if you stop roleplaying, and being seen badly hurts if you don’t have enough emotional resilience. Here’s my best attempt at how to break people out of this.
Man, most people are roleplaying everything. It’s not fixable by just telling them what concrete stuff they’re doing wrong, because they’re still running on the algorithm of roleplaying things. Which is why rationality, an attempted account of how to not do stuff wrong, ended in a social club, because it didn’t directly address that people are roleplaying everything anyways.
Nice, but the second paper is less on track, as the idea is more “people, society etc. coerce you to do things you don’t want” than “long vs short term preferences”.
Not something you’ll see in papers, but the point of willpower is to limit the amount of time doing stuff you don’t want to do. So, your community has some morality that isn’t convenient for you? That’s why it costs willpower to follow that morality. Your job is tiring? Maybe deep down you don’t believe it’s serving your interests.
If you have a false belief about what you want, e.g. “I actually want to keep this prestigious position because yay prestige, even though I get tired all the time at work”, well, that’s a thing a lot of people end up believing, because nobody told them to use “things that make you tired” as a proxy for “things I don’t want”.
Obviously this has nothing to do with e.g. blood glucose levels.
If you want to spend time predictably spinning in circles in your analysis because you can’t bring yourself to believe someone is lying, be my guest.
As for the specific authors: the individual reports written seem fine in themselves, and as for the geoengineering one, I know a guy who did a PhD under the author and said he’s generally trustworthy (I recall Vaniver was in his PhD program too). Like what I’m saying is the specific reports, e.g. Bickel’s report on geoengineering, seem fine, but Lomborg’s synthesis of them is shit, and you’re obscuring things with your niceness-and-good-faith approach.
b/c of doing the analysis and then not ranking shit in order.
Further down the list, we find a very controversial project, that is geo-engineering to reduce the intensity of incoming solar radiation to counteract global warming. According to a background paper, such investments would give a return rate of about 1,000. In spite of this enormous return rate, this is given moderate priority, apparently because it is deemed rather uncertain if this will actually work as intended.
> The lowest ranking accepted project, project no. 16, is called “Borehole and public hand pump intervention”. This has an estimated benefit-cost-ratio of loess than 3.4.
Next, we come to priority no. 17, the highest ranking not-accepted project. This is “Increased funding for green energy research and development”. According to the authors of the background paper, this has benefit-cost-ratios of 10 or more if the time horizon is slightly more than 1 decade. It is therefore a bit strange that this is placed below a project with a clearly less favourable benefit-cost-ratio.
do your own research if you disagree, but if you use “apparently because it is deemed rather uncertain if this will actually work as intended.” as an excuse to rate something poorly because you wanted to anyways rather than either do more research and update it, or even just make a guess, then wtf?
We are not playing, “is this plausibly defensible”, we are playing, “what was this person’s algorithm and are the systematically lying”.
Responding to your Dehaene book review and IFS thoughts as well as this:
On Dehaene: I read the 2018 version of Dehaene’s Consciousness and the Brain a while ago and would recommend it as a good intro to cognitive neurosci, your summary looks correct.
On meditation: it’s been said before, but >90% of people reading this are going to be high on “having models of how their brain works”, and low on “having actually sat down and processed their emotions through meditation or IFS or whatevs”. Double especially true for all the depressed Berkeley rationalists.
Oh, and fun thing: surely you’ve heard the idea that “pretty much all effective therapy and meditation and shit is just helping people sit down until they process their emotions instead of running from them like usual”. Well, here’s IFS being used that way, see from 4:51-5:32.
For the love of the spark, fucking don’t. At least separate yourself from the social ladder of EA and learn the real version of rationality first.
Or: ignore that advice, but at least don’t do the actual MCB implementation worldwide that costs a billion a year, talk with the scientists who worked on it and figure out the way that MCB could be done most efficiently. And then get things to the point of having a written plan, like, “hey government, here’s exactly how you can do MCB if you want, now you can execute this plan as written if/when you choose”. Do a test run over a small area, iterate and improve on the technology. B/c governments or big NGOs are more likely to do it if it’s fleshed out, e.g. lower risk from their POV.
Thanks! This all sounds right. “CCC has interesting heresies”—was there stuff other than MCB and global poverty? It’s an interesting parallel to EA—that they have interesting heresies, but are ultimately wrong about some key assumptions (that there’s room for more funding/that MCB is sufficient to stop all climate change, respectively. And they both have a fetish for working within systems rather than trying to change them at all.)
Kinda a shame that leftists are mostly not coming to the “how can we change systems that will undo any progress we make” thing with an effectiveness mindset, though at least these people are.
I’ll give an answer that considers the details of the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) and geoengineering, rather than being primarily a priori. I’ve spent a day and a half digging around and have zero prior knowledge. I spent too much time reading Lomborg and CCC in retrospect, so I mention him disproportionately relative to other sources.
Cross-posted to my blog.
Here’s what I notice:
1. Lomborg and his CCC seem very cost-benefit focused in their analysis. A few others are too, but see point 4. Basically, it’s easy to compare climate interventions to other interventions, but hard to figure out how much damage warming and other climate change will cause, so you can’t really figure out the benefit part of the cost-benefit analysis.
2. Lomborg and his CCC has recieved a ton of criticism for systematically making errors that underestimate the effect of climate change, and never making errors that overestimate the effect of it. One detailed account of him making such an error that could not have been made in good faith, is given here. He also literally lies in his cost-benefit analysis (by more than 10x).
There’s a lot of articles about Lomborg e.g. taking a 700k salary and getting donations from Koch and Exxon, which showed up before I found the above examples of him lying about data. I reacted to the info on his salary/funding by saying, “this is indicative of him being sketchy, but instead of just changing my estimate of how likely he is to be sketch by however much (“updating”) and calling it a day, I’m going to take this as a cue to dig into things until I have a firm understanding of whether this guy is systematically lying or not”. Turns out he’s a liar (see previous paragraph).
3. Page 33 of this CCC paper notes that,
To place SRM 1 [a plan which, by definition, reduces the amount of heat from the sun that stays in the earth’s atmosphere by 1 watt per square meter] in perspective, 1 W m-2 is about 0.3% of the [average over the earth] incoming solar radiation of 341 W m-2 (Kiehl and Trenberth, 1997; Trenberth et al., 2009).
Which corresponds to a 0.6 C average temperature change. This should put in perspective what a huge effect a 0.3% change in how much heat gets stays in earth’s atmosphere has on global temperatures. If all the glaciers melted, the earth’s temperature would rise 10 C, because glaciers are good at reflecting heat back away from the earth (back of envelope, me); if the earth became totally frozen, the temperature would drop by 55 C (see this page), which is why the thing this post is about, MCB, can realistically change global temperatures by a couple degrees C. Note that 1⁄2 of the global temperature change that already happened was because some glaciers and snow already melted and stopped reflecting heat away from the earth. Basically, the science behind MCB is pretty solid and I’d expect it to basically work.
AFAICT the IPCC estimates of how much warming there will be in the future seem to take into account the fact that the melting of the glaciers will further speed warming in itself, in addition to the warming you get from rising CO2 levels. Except they don’t ever explicitly say whether that was considered as a factor, so I can’t be totally sure they took that into account, even though it sounds like the most obvious thing to consider. (I skimmed this whole damn thing, and it wasn’t said either way!) I guess my next course of action could be to annoy an author about it, though I think I’ll be lazy and not.
4. We have little enough data on “how much economic damage has global warming done so far” that we can’t make decent extrapolations to “how much economic damage will global warming do later”. Like, you have papers saying that the economic damage from 3 C of warming could be 1%, 5-20%, 23%, or 35% of the GDP. When you have zip for data, you fall back on your politics.
5. The obvious game theory consideration of, “it’s better if someone other than you spends money on global warming”. The normal lefty position of, “our institutions aren’t set up to coordinate well on this sort of problem, and every action against climate change, until we change, will predictably be a stopgap measure”. The unusual conservative position of, “just do the cost-benefit analysis for MCB”. How much damn energy I’ve spent filtering out the selectivity in what scraps of data scientists and economists want to show me. /rant
Here’s what I’m taking away from all that:
CCC isn’t reliable in general, but others have made estimates of the cost of worldwide MCB. I’m inclined to believe CCC about MCB in particular, as their numbers match up with others’. MCB is the most cost-effective climate intervention by a ~50x margin, and the estimated cost of worldwide MCB is 750M-1.5B USD annually. The exact technology needed to do MCB hasn’t been fleshed out yet, but could be engineered in a straightforward way.
By CCC’s own analysis, deploying worldwide MCB is >10x more cost-effective than standard global poverty interventions, and the fact that OPP and Givewell have far more funding than they know what to do with (even though they’re lying and saying they don’t), makes MCB even more attractive than this in practice.
Personally, I suspect that fleshing out the details of how MCB could be done in practice, would be more cost-effective than instituting a full-blown implementation of MCB, as having a well-defined way to implement it would reduce the friction for other(s) to implement it. Once I have hella money, it’s something I’d fund (the research on how to do it, but certainly not the actual MCB). Like, to get things to the point of having a written plan, “hey government, here’s exactly how you can do MCB if you want, now you can execute this plan as written if/when you choose”. I expect other interventions (re: factory farming) to be more effective than the actual MCB at preventing suffering.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for bringing MCB to my attention. Stay awesome.
I’d say: stop wanting MCB to work out so much. Don’t just hope that it’s gonna get approved, mate. Convincing people of stuff if fricking impossible. I think you’re seriously overestimating how likely this is.
It’s 750m/yr, and that’s including air capture costs as well. see p3 here
Instead we just have a bunch of moderate liberal democracies who are institutionally incapable of doing anything significant.
Awesome burn! :D
a group of nations can do it without needing very much political energy.
I mean, if your plan is “convince people or governments to do a thing” rather than “do this thing myself”, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s probably within the scope of an individual NGO or maybe a hella determined individual to pull this sort of thing off, no? I guess you’d have to try, and see if anyone decided it was illegal after you started!
Hey, important question: I liked your first two links at the top of this post, were there any others you found helpful in your own research? I’ve been meaning to do my own research on what geoengineering stuff would be effective.
Added: Ok, I spent a few hours actually reading science and looking into it. So this says the “make clouds over the ocean, so light + warmth gets reflected back into space” strategy has “the capacity to balance global warming up to the carbon dioxide-doubling point”. Which is like two to fourish degrees C. Which I can’t find a figure on how long that’s expected to take, except we went from like 355 to 415 ppm from 1991 to 2019. So this is roughly a century of warming you’d be undoing.
Further, the MCB seems like a very solid approach. I didn’t get a good quantified feeling for how big of a deal various types of non-warming climate are though. Any info there?
Note that you could (maybe) just do a fifth of the full version of Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB): spend a bit less and do it over less of the ocean, and then be like ” ‘oops’ I’m done funding this, but wow it lowered global temperatures by 0.4 C (hopefully a statistically significant difference?), guess someone else better fund it now”, and then see if anyone takes the bait, and then use the rest of your money for something else.
But overall, MCB seems… like the effect size might be enough to justify unilaterally doing it even though it’s not a great game theoretic idea. I’d have to think more about that part of it, but unless I come up with something better, I’ll fund it once I have a spare couple billion.
Edit: I ended up spending a bit over a day looking into geoengineering and the Copenhagen Consensus Center after writing this, so go look at my answer for a more informed take that includes what I learned from doing that. My below 2 long-form comments are not exactly wrong, but more poorly informed than that answer.
Awesome! I’d wanted to know what the actually useful geoengineering stuff was.
I do buy the claim that public support for any sort of emission control will evaporate the moment geoengineering is realised as a tolerable alternative… Major emitters have already signalled a clear lack of any real will to change. The humans will not repent. Move on. Stop waiting for humanity to be punished for its sin, act, do something that has some chance of solving the problem.
From a game theory POV, “dont pressure emitters” is basically just “surrender”. In theory, “emitters who don’t want to change” can and should be coerced by force, whether that’s within a nation by laws (which will ultimately be enforced with force if broken), or internationally, by threat of military force that’s willing to follow through. Like, that’s how you’d game theoretically not lose.
In practice, fuck me if you’re able to get any coordination to work.
There’s a case for, “don’t do geoengineering until you have an actual solid international power alliance capable of doing regulation”. Because then the emissions agreements are set.
In practice, what’s the actual utilitarian thing to do? Well, the main unanswered question is, how much can cloud brightening be scaled? Can it keep temperatures constant if emissions levels go 5, even 20x? Secondly, what can be done about e.g. ocean acidification and other non-warming issues? I have zero knowledge here. But if it scales that well, then throw out the game theory and just do the geoengineering.
If you’re a lone EA and you’re trying to use this information, presumably your options are, “do startup and try to get >$10B”, and “gain control of a tiny country, boost military, start threatening emitters”.
added: or “do startup, make money, then fund research”.
because such discussion would make it harder to morally pressure people into reducing carbon emissions. I don’t know how to see this as anything other than an adversarial action against reasonable discourse
ffs, because incentives. You’re playing tragedy of the commons, and your best move is to make there be more shared resources people can just take?
Basically, don’t let your thinking on what is useful affect your thinking on what’s likely.
It’s a pretty clear way of endorsing something to call it “honest reporting”.
It also seems like there’s an argument for weighting urgency in planning that could lead to ‘distorted’ timelines while being a rational response to uncertainty.
It’s important to do the “what are all the possible outcomes and what are the probabilities of each” calculation before you start thinking about weightings of how bad/good various outcomes are.
I’m wary of using words like “lie” or “scam” to mean “honest reporting of unconsciously biased reasoning”
When someone is systematically trying to convince you of a thing, do not be like, “nice honest report”, but be like, “let me think for myself whether that is correct”.