Animal welfare

Summary

One of the four focus areas as outlined by lukeprog here.

Some things to look into:

  • What is the goal? The goal of animal welfare activism is generally to reduce or eliminate suffering and increase the wellbeing and subjectively positive experience of nonhuman animals.

There is substantial debate about how best to accomplish that goal. Animal activists which animals are capable of experiencing subjectively positive and negative experiences, how much animals in factory farms vs. animals in the wild suffer, and where the best opportunities for progress lie.

Some support consumerist approaches (for example, supporting promising fake meat companies), others advocate for the use of leaflets and ad campaigns, while still others believe that more radical forms of activism such as protests are most effective.

  • How effective is it to try to convince people to become vegan/vegetarian?

  • Can we/how do we compare animal suffering to human suffering, and what sort of rough dollar costs can we come up with for the cause? Animal Charity Evaluators currently estimates that one of its top charities, Animal Equality (AE), spares 10.9 lives for each $1 donation. For comparison, GiveWell estimates that it takes $3,400 to save one life through the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). At face value, these estimates indicate donations can save 37,060 times more lives if given to AE than to AMF, although it’s important to consider variables like the difference between quality of life in a developing country from quality of life in industrial agriculture, the ability of different beings to experience suffering, and the lifespan of various populations.

  • GiveWell’s investigation: http://www.givewell.org/labs/causes/treatment-animals-industrial-agriculture

  • Talk about how animal suffering is very controversial as a cause. Even GiveWell employees have very different opinions about how useful ending factory farming is, for instance.

  • FIXME: Don’t just make this page a collection of quotes from ACE…

Importance

From Animal Charity Evaluators:

The number of nonhuman animals in the world is staggering. At this moment, there are roughly 7 billion humans in existence, but there are 24 billion land-dwelling farmed animals and many more wild animals in the world. Additionally, just as the expected number of human descendants in the far future dwarfs the current number of humans, the expected number of animals in the far future is exceedingly large. In this regard, it is crucial to ensure that humanity acts with much greater concern for animals for the coming centuries.

Tractability

From Animal Charity Evaluators:

Our current research indicates that we can help large numbers of animals for low costs. Additionally, historical evidence from previous social movements suggests it is possible to substantially affect the ideas and moral values of humanity on a large scale. Finally, there is an abundance of research from social psychology, marketing, and other areas that illustrates the ability of purposeful messaging to change individual attitudes and behaviors. The totality of this evidence gives us good reason to believe that we can make serious improvements in the lives of animals.

Neglectedness

From Animal Charity Evaluators:

The vast majority of philanthropic funding in the United States goes towards human aid. Even among the funding spent on animals, only a small portion goes to farmed animals, despite the fact that farmed animals make up the overwhelming majority of animals killed or used by humans in the United States. Given the scarcity of philanthropic support for animals, we expect the cause of animal advocacy to be particularly promising for people interested in doing the most good with their resources. There is also little existing guidance about where to give and what to do to benefit animals the most.

See also