One of the core organizers of EA Russia. Currently studying “Data, Economics, and Development Policy” MIT MicroMasters program and “Data Analyst with R” track on DataCamp.
Here's a review of several courses from the program. I'm currently studying the third course out of five, and then I want to apply for on-campus accelerated Master's at MIT. I'll be happy to answer questions about the program if you have them.
I've done some investigation into this. All money goes to Arbor Day Foundation, but they are not planting trees themselves and work with partners like the US Forest Service.
To estimate cost-effectiveness we need to know tree mortality rate and estimated lifespan. The first factor depends on the region and maintenance level. US Forest Service estimated a 3% mortality rate per year. It takes around 40 years for a tree to absorb a tonne of CO2, and at least 30% of planted trees will survive to this age (0.97^40 ~ 30%). It's harder to estimate lifespan because trees can live hundreds and thousands of years. But it's less relevant if we want to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere in this century, not in the distant future. From these calculations, I can conclude that the cost-effectiveness of this program in the next 40 years must be around 3.3$ per tonne CO2 absorbed or cheaper. But it's just my back-of-the-envelope calculation for those who want some numbers. For example, Founders Pledge recommended intervention by The Coalition for Rainforest Nations avert a tonne of CO2 for 0.12$ with a plausible range $0.02-$0.72 (report). And these emissions will be averted right now, not in the future when trees grow up.
Overall, I stayed neutral to this campaign. On the one hand, I feel that it bring a lot of counterfactual dollars that would not be spent on charity otherwise. On the other, I think that paying too much attention to tree planting can take us away from the importance of reducing emissions.
David, thank you for a useful summary.
I already use some of the techniques (for example, closed space with chairs in the circle creates more friendly and warm atmosphere, than open space with low density and classroom style chairs).
We've been organizing meetups for 4 month and made some mistakes. Sometimes guests were bored, or they were expecting something else, because we chose improper audience sources. But meetups become better as we learn, and we'll use this advices to make them even better.
For me the most important idea here is to think more about the purpose of meetup and use it as a framework, reflect on it at the start and at the end (I've often started with logistics like timeline or rules).