#56: What's It Like To Be Asked To Save The World?

In Episode 56, Quinn & Brian ask: What’s it feel like to be asked to save the world?

Our guest is Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who is writing policy and leading the Green New Deal project at New Consensus, which is one of the main think tanks working on the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is one of the most important pieces of policy being worked on right now (editors note: or, you know, ever), and it could have wide sweeping effects that impact not just our generation but the future for everyone. Conversations around environmental topics tend to get real political real fast, but Rhiana reminds us that this isn’t a political issue – this is not a political game and millions of people will die. Sorry, no joke there, just a stark reality that too many people are happily ignoring.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#55: What Are The Energy Requirements of Well Being?

In Episode 55, Quinn & Brian ask: What are the energy requirements of well-being?

Our guest is Julia Steinberger, a Professor of Social Ecology & Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment. Her research examines the connections between resource use (energy and materials, greenhouse gas emissions) and societal performance (economic activity and human wellbeing) – or, what happens when you drive your car every damn day. She is interested in quantifying the current and historical linkages between resource use and socioeconomic parameters, and identifying alternative development pathways to guide the necessary transition to a low carbon society.

Basically, all her research can be boiled down to one important question: are we going to make it and maintain our standard of living, given the resources available to us and the technology we have now? And, well... it’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy and some things are going to have to change. Fast.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#54: The state that's not a state is greener than your state

In Episode 54, Quinn & Brian discuss: the state that’s not a state is a hell of a lot greener than your state.

Our guest is Jamie DeMarco, a State-Level Carbon Pricing Coordinator with our friends the Citizens' Climate Lobby (who are working to save our collective asses every single day, NBD). Jamie is dedicated to passing state-level legislation that will serve as a model and inspiration for future national lawmakers – so he definitely has his work cut out for him.

Dealing with society’s environmental self-harm, it turns out, is a lot like acknowledging a toxic relationship with your significant other: you acknowledge the problem (maybe publicly), stop participating in the toxic behavior, and then move to being proactive about the problem. What can we do on both a micro and macro scale to begin influencing environmental policy for the better, and encourage others to do the same?

We already have all of the technology we need to power our society from 100% renewable sources – we just lack the political will to get there. Luckily, we have people like Jamie out there creating will where there’s already a way.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#52: What's the Deal with the Green New Deal?

In Episode 52, Quinn & Brian ask (using their best Seinfeld impression): What’s the deal with the Green New Deal?

Our guest is Varshini Prakash, a founder of the Sunrise Movement, a veritable army of young folks fighting to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We think Varshini will be, no exaggeration, one of the most instrumental people in American politics (and for the future health of our planet) over the next couple years.

The Sunrise Movement’s army is comprised of ordinary people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places they love. They aren’t looking to the Left or the Right to solve the problem – they’re looking forward to unite millions of people and reclaim our democracy from the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executive and those who empower them. The cornerstone of this movement is the Green New Deal, a plan that will transform our economy and society at the scale needed to stop the climate crisis. So this summer, thousands of people from Sunrise will descend on one of the first Democratic Presidential debates to #ChangeTheDebate and make sure the #GreenNewDeal is a top issue in the 2020 election.

Like our friends Elsa Mengistu and Emelly Villa from episode 33, Varshini recognizes that #thisisZeroHour – and the Green New Deal is our chance to turn back the clock.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#47: The Future of Digital Health, Part II

In Episode 47, Quinn goes solo for a minute to discuss: America’s data and the future of digital health.

Quinn sits down for a one-on-one chat with Dave Gershgorn, the lead artificial intelligence reporter at Quartz (AKA qz.com), to figure out why our data is different, how the future we were promised is both here and pretty damn far away, and whether/why data is too white.

The worlds of healthcare and artificial intelligence are looking – big surprise – really biased right now, but with some effort, we can get to the colorful and diverse future of digital health we talked about with Dr. Indra Joshi and Maxine Mackintosh back in episode 43. Today, Dave provides some journalist-approved action steps that will help us get a little more informed on the subject so that we can all help make that future our reality.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#46: Is There Nuclear Waste in the Ocean (& Can We Become Super Heroes if There Is)?

In Episode 46, Quinn & Brian ask: Is there nuclear waste in the ocean... and can we become superheroes if there is?

Our guest is Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, an Associate Dean and Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Carolina, where she focuses on just ONE thing–– oh, wait, no, we got that wrong. She focuses on just about EVERYTHING: biogeochemistry and geochemistry; climate change; society, policy & environment; coastal processes; water resources & hydrology; and oceanography. She is also a co-author on a paper about the impact of the accident that happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant ("Fukushima Daiichi–Derived Radionuclides in the Ocean: Transport, Fate, and Impacts").

Make sure you put your learning hat on as you put in your headphones for this episode because Dr. Benitez-Nelson has some shit to teach us today. You’ll come away from this episode knowing more about the pros and cons of nuclear power – and the ocean in general – than you ever did before (unless you also happen to be a Renaissance scientist). And at the very least, you’ll have some fun facts to throw around when you talk about the upcoming release of Aquaman.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#40: What Takes a Young Woman from Art School to NASA... & Why Might That Change Everything Forever, for Everyone?

In Episode 40, Quinn & Brian ask: What would take a young woman from art school to NASA... and why might that change everything forever, for everyone, for good?


Our guest is Ariel Waldman, the author of What's It Like in Space? Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There, the founder of Spacehack.org, the global director of Science Hack Day (something she awesomely calls “massively multiplayer science”), and a member of the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts – a program that nurtures radical, science fiction-inspired ideas that could transform future space missions.


Ariel is helping to build a great new future full of exciting ideas, and she does everything in her power to invite others to collaborate and contribute themselves. She’s doing all of the things, and while you don't have to do all of them too, Ariel is an inspiration for all of us to get out there and do SOMETHING! Plus, she is single handedly proving to parents everywhere that you can, in fact, do something with an art degree.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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#39: Is The Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?

In Episode 39, Quinn & Brian ask: Is The Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?

Our guest is Dawn “Deepsea Dawn” Wright, Ph.D., the Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (AKA Esri) and a Professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State University. She also happens to have the distinction of being the first African-American woman to dive to the ocean floor in the deep submersible ALVIN (which we would totally be up for doing if anyone has a spare submergible chipmunk for us to ride).

Dr. Wright leads efforts to map the entirety of the ocean floor in, essentially, the same detail as the Google Maps app on your phone. This is one of the grandest endeavors that our society has yet to undertake, and it’s not just a good excuse to take a ride in a cool submarine. In many ways, we understand the stars and celestial bodies better than we understand the water that covers the majority of our planet – and we need to understand it if we’re going to protect it and prevent the depletion of oxygen.

P.S. If you like golden retriever puppies, you should definitely follow Dawn on Instagram.

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#38: Is It Harder to Build Clean Power Plants or Play in a Reputable Cover Band?

In Episode 38, Quinn & Brian ask: Is it harder to build clean power plants or play in a reputable cover band?

Our guest is Sean Casten, a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur, and cover band member who is running for Congress in Illinois’ 6th district. Let’s let out a big “whoop whoop!” for Brian’s home district!

Sean is running against Peter “Skeletor” Roskam, who called climate change “junk science,” which is really all we need to hear to know that Sean is the right man for Illinois’’ 6th district. Plus, Sean is backed by our friends at 314 Action, an incredible group of people who are smarter than us trying to get other people who are smarter than us elected. You can check out our previous episodes with 314 Action founder Shaughnessy Naughton (episode 35) and fellow Congressional candidates Chrissy Houlahan (episode 37) and Joseph Kopser (episode 32) – and we’ll have even more STEM-ific candidates coming before the Midterm elections on Nov. 6th.

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#37: Why Does Congress Need a Female Air Force Officer / Engineer / Chemistry Teacher / Mom?

In Episode 37, Quinn & Brian ask: Why does Congress need a female Air Force Officer / Engineer / Chemistry Teacher / Mom among its ranks? (Possibly our dumbest question yet?)

Our guest is Chrissy Houlahan, a candidate for Pennsylvania District 6 on Nov. 6th. We dig into the very personal reasons she’s running, what’s so special about Pennsylvania, and the first thing she’s going to do when she gets elected. Plus, how did she collect such an impressive list of bona fides?

Chrissy shares some incredibly insightful facts that highlight why this Pennsylvania race is so important – because, as it turns out, when you do your research, you get facts! (It’s one of the firsts time we’ve heard these from a politician, too, so don’t feel too embarrassed if it’s your first time hearing about this.) Chrissy is one of our featured conversations in partnership with 314 Action, an organization working hard to put STEM candidates in office. You can learn more about the organization in our interview with the founder, Shaughnessy Naughton, back in episode 35 and support them at 314action.org.

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#36: Can Latinos Save the World?

In Episode 36, Quinn & Brian ask: Can Latinos save the planet?

Our guest is Mark Magana, the Founding President & CEO of GreenLatinos, a national coalition of Latino environmental, natural resources, and conservation advocates. Mark started the organization 10 years ago (with the super pithy name National Latinos Coalition on Climate Change) in an effort to garner support for a cap and trade bill in Congress. What they found, however, was that Latinos in the environmental movement were siloed in different sectors – so they changed their name and set out on a mission to break down those barriers.

Somewhere between a professional organization and an environmental policy organization, GreenLatinos now brings together Latinos in every sector of the environmental movement to work with one other on behalf of their communities and each other. As our previous guests Elsa and Emelly would say, it’s zero hour – so we have to get out from behind these desks, take the activism to the front lines, and actually do something to create change. We acknowledge and understand that no heritage makes up a homogenous voting block, but we can’t think of anyone better poised to save the planet than the united efforts of the most rapidly growing population in our country, who are also disproportionately affected by climate issues.

But here’s the good news: every 30 seconds, a Latino turns 18. That’s 66,000 new voters every month, and that represents a huge potential for change. This is something that the white folks in charge are clearly scared of and actively working to suppress – but with your support, we can help make that potential for change a reality.

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#15: Can carbon capture be a building block in climate action, Part II?

In Episode 15, Quinn and Brian dig deeper and ask: Can carbon capture be a building block in climate action, part II?

On the mic: Akshat Rathi, a reporter for Quartz in London. He wrote a series last year called The Race to Zero Emissions about carbon capture, and we dig into that, and the next 10 years of CCS, today.

Akshat’s resume: he’s previously worked at The Economist and The Conversation. His writing has appeared in Nature, The Guardian and The Hindu. He has a PhD in chemistry from Oxford University and a BTech in chemical engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, and if that isn’t enough to convince you, well I’m sorry.

Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript here.

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