#77: Hey, Colorado, Let’s Do the Right Thing in the 2020 U.S. Senate Elections

In Episode 77, Quinn & Brian discuss: How Colorado can do the right thing.

Our guest is Mike Johnston, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Colorado and the first of a series of conversations about the 2020 elections.

The 2020 Senate elections are going to be really important because flipping it is one of the only protections we might have from another four years of a Republican President – or, if we want to think a little more optimistically, it will allow a new President to make more significant and impactful changes to policies that affect everyone, everywhere. And Colorado is the state that we are most likely to flip seats, so it’s really going to set the tone for the rest of the 2020 elections.

And we like what Mike has done with his political career so far. As a State Senator, he passed major legislation that opened the doors of college to undocumented students, invested in renewable energy, and won a fight with the NRA to pass common sense gun safety. As Mike said when he announced his campaign, “Colorado deserves a U.S. Senator who will run to our hardest problems and show the leadership to pass real progressive policy.”

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#76: Save the Corals, Save the World

In Episode 76, Quinn & Brian discuss: What you don’t see (any more) when you snorkel.

Our guest is Dr. Kim Cobb, a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in climate change, specifically how the extremes of climate change are changing in the ocean due to anthropogenic greenhouse gasses. She describes herself as 40% Climate Scientist, 40% Mom, and 20% Indiana Jones, somehow managing to balance research in remote areas of the world with raising four children. So she’s definitely badass, probably super human.

Dr. Cobb, like some of our other guests who are researching the future of climate change impacts, is doing so with increasing urgency and desperation in a valiant effort to help us avoid the worst effects of climate change. As science and Dr. Cobb’s body of work are actively attacked by politicians, policy makers, and the public, she and her colleagues are being forced to stand up and scream that we need different policies, now, to keep our communities clean and safe – and we’re happy to at least offer our roof as another place to shout from.

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#75: Can Zebrafish Beat Childhood Cancer?

In Episode 75, Quinn & Brian discuss: Beating the crap out of childhood cancer with science and... zebrafish?

We’re getting really nerdy about beating childhood cancer with Dr. Jaclyn Taroni and Dr. Genevieve Kendall. Dr. Kendall is a Postdoctoral scholar at UT Southwestern Medical Center who utilizes zebrafish genetic models to understand how pediatric muscle cancers develop and better identify any therapies we can use to treat it.  Dr. Taroni is a Principal Data Scientist at the Childhood Cancer Data Lab, an initiative of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, and her job is to help childhood cancer researchers like Dr. Kendall use data to answer some of the most important questions in the field.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: these badasses are trying to beat kid cancer, so if you don’t care or understand why this is important, you’re a monster.


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#74: Incentivizing Those Dirty Capitalists to Solve Climate Change for Us

In Episode 74, Quinn & Brian discuss: Making carbon capture suck more (but this time, with carrots).

Our guest is Henry Elkus, the young and optimistic founder of Helena, an organization that assembles “some of the world’s most remarkable people to develop and lead projects that help build a better tomorrow.” They’re a little different from other think thanks, though, because they focus on one problem at a time, creating projects that aim to operationally address a societal problem.


The first project Helena focused on was a carbon capture solution – one of the most positive and lucrative possible solutions for addressing the excess carbon in our atmosphere, which has to be done if we want to slow down and possibly reverse climate catastrophe. They helped build and scale the world’s first commercial carbon capture company, Climeworks, creators of the first carbon capture plant that is carbon net-negative.

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#73: Did A.I. Just Make My Life’s Work Obsolete?

In Episode 73, Quinn & Brian ask: Did A.I. Take Our Jobs? 

Of course, we aren’t talking about our jobs. If A.I. took our jobs, the show would have won that Webby. We’re talking about really, really important jobs – like curing cancer and slowing down our climate collapse. But we are talking about people like our guest Dr. Mohammed AlQuraishi, who is a Department Fellow at the Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.

Still, Dr. AlQuraishi is hopeful about the future and his role in it – an attitude so refreshing it’s like stumbling onto a digital oasis in the internet’s hateful and pessimistic desert.

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#72: How is Climate Change Already Affecting Indian Monsoons (& People)?

In Episode 72, Quinn & Brian discuss: Monsoons, food, and people.


Our guest is Dr. Deepti Singh, an Assistant Professor in the School of the Environment at Washington State University - Vancouver who is motivated by the potential for climate studies to minimize future disaster risk to vulnerable communities around the world.

Because here’s the thing: while there are still many people and governments who are still denying the existence and impact of climate change – or our active climate crisis – it’s already having a noticeable and negative impact on our planet and the people who live on it. And this is, perhaps, the most obvious (really, it’s pretty obvious) when we look at what’s happening to already extreme weather phenomenon, such as monsoons.

Good news: we also talk about Dr. Singh’s dog!

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#71: Why Raising the Status of Girls can Help Change Everything

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In Episode 71, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why raising the status of girls can help change everything.

Our guest is Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, an expert in just about everything who’s made a very specific list of all the ways we can and should be fighting climate change and the climate crisis. She even put the list in order for us – and you won’t believe what number six is!

So, this episode is pretty much an audio version of a Buzzfeed listicle, except it could literally change everything and save the planet. But you should still share it to Facebook like you would any other Buzzfeed list. That’d be swell.

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#70: Who’s Fixing the People Fixing Our Planet?

Show Notes

In Episode 70, Quinn & Brian discuss: When things are broken, when the people who are working on those things are also broken, and why we need to help them.

Our guest is Nikki Silvestri, the founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a project development firm designing economic and environmental strategies with human left in. As the Co-Founder of Live Real and former Executive Director of People's Grocery and Green for All, Nikki has built and strengthened social equity for underrepresented populations in food systems, social services, public health, climate solutions, and economic development. She is a nationally recognized thought leader and general good doer, including being named as one of The Root's 100 Most Influential African Americans and receiving ELLE Magazine's "Gold" Award and OxFam America's "Act Local, Think Global" Award.

We don’t hesitate or feel like we’re overselling things when we say that what Nikki has to say is something that most people need to hear, and this could be a truly transformative message if it falls on the right ears. Brian said it, Quinn took credit for it, and now we hope you take it to heart.

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#69: Rebuilding Los Angeles & L.A.’s Green New Deal

Show Notes

In Episode 69, Quinn & Brian discuss: Rebuilding Los Angeles and L.A.’s Green New Deal.

Our guest is Jeanalee Obergfell, who works just down the street from Important, Not Important HQ as a City Planning Associate for Los Angeles. When it comes to making L.A. greener and more equitable, you know Jeanalee is either helping someone’s cause or leading the charge.

Really, if the Game of Thrones were the game of creating more equitable housing and transportation options in a less hot and more breathable city (as opposed to literally burning all of the infrastructure and citizens, like some people), Jeanalee would be sitting on the Iron Throne. But, will real life end better than the show? For our sake, we sure hope so.

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#68: Let’s Send Our Homework into Space

In Episode 68, Quinn & Brian discuss: Sending our homework to space.

Our guest is Michelle Lucas, an actual rocket scientist and the founder of Higher Orbits. Michelle spent 10 years at NASA, where part of her role involved teaching astronauts how to... you know, do space stuff. And now, at Higher Orbits, she’s teaching young people who aren’t astronauts yet, but might be, some day, because of her!

Now, this isn’t an episode about how to get away with not doing your homework. On the contrary, this is an episode that might actually make a kid want to do their homework – because, this time, an actual astronaut in space might help them finish it.

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#67: Is Climate Change Flippable?

In Episode 67, Quinn & Brian ask: Is Climate Change Flippable?

Our guest is Catherine Vaughan, CEO and Co-Founder of Flippable, an organization dedicated to flipping state governments from red to blue. You may not be surprised that Catherine is, indeed, one of the people trying to make a positive change by getting states back on the light side of the Force.

So, when it comes to things like climate change, cancer, clean energy, (the Presidency,) artificial intelligence... are those things Flippable? The answer better be yes, or this is going to be a very depressing episode. So, pay attention today, because the answer just might help us get on the right track to an even better place – not to where we were or are, obviously, because that place was and is not great.

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#66: So We Can't Just Blow Up An Asteroid, Then?

In Episode 66, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why, apparently, we shouldn’t just blow up asteroids.

Our guest is Professor K.T. Ramesh, who is a professor of mechanical engineering at John Hopkins, founding director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI), and our new hero. You can think of HEMI as a real-life Avengers (no, we’re not just stuck on Endgame), except every member is like Bruce Banner without all the Hulk-iness or Tony Stark if he was never kidnapped by terrorists. Every day, they’re working to protect people, structures, and the planet, exploring a number of topics that are both critically important and impenetrably complicated.

One of their newest studies reveals that Hollywood and Atari may, in fact, have been incorrect when they repeatedly suggested that one viable way to defend the planet from an incoming asteroid would be blowing it up. We don’t know about you, but we certainly feel lied to – so it’s refreshing to have this conversation with Professor Ramesh to set the record straight.

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#65: Chernobyl: A Preventable and Rare Accident from the Past or a Vivid Picture of Our Hellish Nuclear Future?

In Episode 65, Quinn asks: Is Chernobyl a preventable and rare accident from the past or a vivid picture of our hellish nuclear future?

Our guest is Craig Mazin, screenwriter, podcaster, and the creator and executive producer of a new HBO mini-series called Chernobyl – which is debuting TODAY, May 6th. So, if you currently have an account just to watch Game of Thrones, you’re in luck!

We’ve had some nuclear accidents, but we’ve learned from them... right? We answer that question, talk about the how and why of nuclear power (and disaster), and take a gander into the future of energy.

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#64: Sunrise Movement Tour - Live (ish) in LA!

In a very special Episode 64, Quinn & Brian discuss (live! Kind of): everything that’s good at the Sunrise Movement Tour (and everything that’s not-so-good in the local communities)!

Our guests are politician and native Hawaiian Kaniela Ing, environmental activist Michelle Cerecerez, native activist Miguel Quimichipilli Bravo, and LA City Councilmember Nury Martinez.

We make some new friends and have a lot of fun while we chat about the Green New Deal, supporting indigenous people, the scars of hyper gentrification, being surprised when you meet people with basic consideration for other human beings, environmental racism, and all of the important work that Sunrise Movement is doing here in California.

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#63: How Do We Build A New Pipeline of Sustainable Farmers?

In Episode 63, Quinn & Brian ask: How do we build a new pipeline of sustainable food growers?

Our guest is Dena Leibman, the Executive Director of the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (or Future Harvest for short), a non-profit that works to build a sustainable Chesapeake Foodshed from farm and fishery to table. But Dena is one to practice what she preaches – or a workaholic – so the Leibman family also started ZigBone Farm Retreat, a 100-acre sheep and goat farm in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains that they are slowly converting into a naturally built retreat center and event space.

And you know what’s really cool? Food without a bunch of shit in it, literally and figuratively; food that keeps us healthy instead of making us sick; food that makes us stronger, faster, and generally more like The Six Million Dollar Man. Today, we learn where our current food pipeline fails us – and what we can do to start supporting more sustainable farming and distribution practices today.

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#62: Where Does Ebola Go From Here?

In Episode 62, Quinn & Brian ask: Where does Ebola go from here?

Our guest is Karin Huster, a Field Coordinator at Doctors Without Borders, where she is currently bouncing between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. She spent a decade in the trauma ICU before flinging herself head first into humanitarian efforts across the globe. She’s sorta the Forest Gump of humanitarian field nurses; if there’s a health-related outbreak, or a storm-related outbreak that turns into a health-related outbreak, she’s there – and she’s inspiring as hell!

The latest Ebola outbreak started in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2018, which is the worst on record for the DRC and the second largest Ebola outbreak in recorded history. Ebola is a beast of a disease, the kind of thing Hollywood uses as a go-to when they need a horrible disease outbreak. However, we do actually have some experimental drugs for treatment and a promising vaccine, thanks to recent medical advancements, but they don’t seem to be doing a lot to slow the spread of this disease. But why? We get into it in this episode, and Karin explains in further detail in a beautifully written New York Times opinion piece, “Why Couldn’t My Ebola Treatment Center Save This Baby?”

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#61: How Do We Atone for Poisoning Generations of American Minorities?

In Episode 61, Quinn & Brian ask: How do we atone for poisoning generations of American minorities?

Our guest is Dr. Michael Dorsey, a recognized expert on global energy, finance and sustainability matters. Dr. Dorsey holds Rotary International’s highest honor, The Paul Harris Medal for Distinguished Service to Humanity, and is a “full member” of the Club of Rome. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Yale, and Johns Hopkins University, he is currently Senior Program Officer for Sustainability at the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Dr. Dorsey is out there making change wherever he goes – which is just about everywhere, really – and today, he’s going to hold our hands and walk us through the history of environmental injustice in the United States (and beyond) – and how, ultimately, we can work together to make things better for future generations.

We also have some BIG news to announce: we have been nominated as Best Podcast Host in the 2019 Webbys! We are so incredibly honored to be nominated with the likes of Serial, Conversations With People Who Hate Me, Ear Biscuits, and Pod Save The People. We’re the only independent podcast on the list, and with your help, maybe we won’t come in last! (Just kidding... kinda.) You can show us your support by going to importantnotimportant.com/vote!

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#60: Why You Should Run for Something in 2020

In Episode 60, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why YOU should run for something in 2020!

Our guest is Amanda Litman, the co-founder and Executive Director of Run For Something, a PAC that helps recruit and support young diverse progressives to run for down-ballot races in order to build a bench for the future. They aim to lower the barriers to entry for these candidates – which could and should be you, unless you’re a white guy (because we have plenty of those) – by helping them with seed money, organization building, and access to training.

According to Run For Something’s strategic plan, their mission is to change the face of progressive politics, quite literally, by encouraging and supporting local candidates who can improve lives today, and who may be able to run for office on a national level in the future. They will never merge with the Democratic Party, and they never plan to support candidates in federal races – they are just here to create a much-needed, long-lasting infrastructure for regular people who just want to solve problems in their communities, but who have trouble finding resources because they’re not already part of the existing political system.

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#59: Is Florida the Harbinger of Doom? (Probably)

In Episode 59, Quinn & Brian ask: Is Florida the harbinger of doom? (Probably)

Our guest is Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida. His lab, The Moreno Lab, lies at the interface between ecology and pathogenesis, studying the emergence and evolution of bacterial pathogens. From what we can tell, this means they’re focusing on how and why bacteria want to eat and/or kill us.

This episode contains what has to be some of the most scientifically-laden potty talk you’ve ever heard as we learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly awaiting us in our poop and the water. But don’t get us wrong, this is some serious shit.

We’ll also spoil one big takeaway from this episode now, and we hope you take it to heart: do NOT retire to Florida.

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#58: Is Faith Sustainable?

In Episode 58, Quinn & Brian ask: Is faith sustainable?

Our guest is Dekila Chungyalpa, a trained scientist and Buddhist operating at the intersection of science, faith, and the environment. She is the director of The Loka Initiative, a new and innovative education and outreach program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for faith leaders and religious institutions. Its mission is to support faith-led environmental efforts locally and around the world through collaborations with faith leaders and religious institutions on environmental protection, sustainable development, and global health issues.

Dekila believes that science and religion can be sympathetic, rather than adversarial, in their commitment to solving environmental and social problems compassionately and effectively. We are all different, in oh so very many ways, but there’s one thing that that every single human being has in common: if we destroy the planet through our own negligence, there will be nowhere left for us to argue about (and kill each other over) religion and politics.

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