#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.

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

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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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#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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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#57: Make Food Great (Nutritious) Again

In Episode 57, Quinn & Brian discuss: Why more food ≠ more nutrition.

Our guests are Professors Kristie Ebi and Irakli Loladze. Dr. Ebi is the Rohm & Haas Endowed Professorship in Public Health Sciences at the University of Washington, where she has been conducting research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for over twenty years. She focuses on understanding sources of vulnerability, estimating current and future health risks of climate change, and designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments. Dr. Loladze is a professor of health sciences at the Bryan Medical Center at Bryan College, where he applies mathematical, computational, and statistical methods to life sciences – which is to say, he’s a math biologist.

Dr. Ebi recently testified in front of Congress – specifically, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology – in the first of a series of hearings on climate science and why it matters (a series of conversations we’re pretty surprised and excited are actually happening at all, if you need any more evidence that your vote matters). She was speaking about the health implications, which Dr. Loladze has also spent much of his life studying. In fact, he linked rising CO2 levels to the quality of human nutrition and obesity, revealing that some of the advancements that allow us to grow more food also reduce the nutritional quality of those foods.
But you want to know what’s really screwed up about the whole situation? These two don’t have any funding for this potentially world-saving research.

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

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#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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#53: How the Hell Do We Pull Clean Drinking Water Out of Thin Air?

In Episode 53, Quinn & Brian ask: How the hell do we pull clean drinking water out of thin air?

Our guest is Dr. Shing-Chung “Josh” Wong, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Akron In addition to pursuing bio-inspired materials research, he has worked on mechanical behavior and functional properties of polymers, electrospinning, processing-structure-property relationships, coatings, bio- and nano-materials, and composites. Dr. Wong has authored and co-authored over 70 archived articles in book, journal, and patent literatures, and in 2007, he was selected as a recipient for the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

There are a lot of words you may not understand in that bio – don’t worry, you’re not alone – but the reason Josh is awesome and we wanted him on the show comes down to one simple fact: he has invented some very cool shit that benefits anyone who enjoys being alive on Earth. He comes from a place of such moral integrity, constantly striving to use his capacity for innovation and discovery to help other people... a trait that is almost staggeringly uncommon these days, to our detriment.

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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#50: It’s Getting Hot in Herre & America’s Poor are (Not Surprisingly) Dying Fastest

In Episode 50, Quinn & Brian discuss: How D.C. and LA are dealing with urban heat issues.  

Our guests are Yesim Sayin Taylor and Molly Peterson. Yesim is the founding Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center and Molly is a renowned reporter focusing on the environment and climate change (and our first returning guest!).

We all remember when Nelly said, “It’s getting hot in herre,” but not a lot of people remember the whole verse: “It’s getting hot in herre, so take off all your clothes / all of the poor minorities in America are suffering and dying before everybody else / Uh, uh, uh, let it hang all out.” But it’s a shame, really, because if we’d just paid more attention to Nelly’s important message back in 2002, maybe we wouldn’t be facing this problem today.

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

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#44: Is Food Waste the Stupidest Thing We Do (& How Do We Cut it in Half)?

In Episode 44, Quinn & Brian ask: Is food waste the stupidest thing we do, as a species, and how can we cut it in half? (or: avocado toast is about to go off, son)

Our guest is Dr. James Rogers, founder and CEO of Apeel Sciences and one of our most mind-blowing guests yet. You may think you know about avocados, but you have no idea.

Apeel Sciences is an agricultural innovation company that creates plant-based technologies to extend the shelf life of fresh produce – like an organic rinse that keeps produce fresh twice as long! These innovations are vital for our survival because, as we said in the title, food waste is quite possibly the stupidest thing our species does. And all of you American Exceptionalism fans out there will be pumped to know that we are the very best, wasting about $165 BILLION of food every year. That means almost 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten. It’s staggering and a little heartbreaking, but Dr. Rogers is here to help.

To listen to the episode go here. To read the transcript, go here.

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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.

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

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#33: This is Zero Hour... So What The Hell Are You Doing?

In Episode 33, Quinn & Brian ask: This is Zero Hour... so what the hell are you doing?

Our guests are Elsa Mengistu and Emelly Villa, two of the young people behind Zero Hour, a movement that is aligning the voices of diverse in the conversation on climate and environmental justice. They’re doing incredible things to make this the world they want to (and can) live in – and they’re only 17 and 18!

The older generations, all around the world, have been stealing the future away from their children and grandchildren for far too long – and their children and grandchildren are fed up. #thisisZeroHour to act on climate change, and neither our planet or the youth can afford to wait any longer. If this episode doesn’t convince you to hop on board The Revolution train – not just any revolution, but the capital letter Revolution that’s going to change the world (and maybe put some backs against the wall) – then there’s probably nothing that will.

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

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#32: Are You Ready for Some Radical Environmental Justice?

In Episode 32, Quinn & Brian ask: Are You Ready for Some Radical Environmental Justice?

Our guest is Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director of Creation Justice Ministries, which we’re pretty sure means she’s the boss of all the religious folks out there – and luckily enough for you pious people, she’s delightful! The mission of Creation Justice Ministries is to “educate, equip, and mobilize Christian communities and individuals to protect, restore, and rightly share God's Creation.” But more than that, and this is why we really wanted to chat with Shantha, they focus on providing support to the vulnerable and marginalized.

As an individual, when you watch the news and see all of the problems in the world (and then maybe pour yourself another drink or cry a little), those big problems can feel insurmountable for a regular person. And as the environment rapidly deteriorates and starts fighting back, the marginalized communities that are already suffering the most from our systematic problems just get more crap piled onto them.

But Creation Justice Ministries is going into small vulnerable communities, asking the people who live there what actually needs to be done, and then educating them on how to solve those problems themselves. Because that’s where people actually give a shit, and that’s where you can have the most impact.

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

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#31: Can Texas Go (Clean Energy) Independent?

In Episode 31, Quinn & Brian ask: Can Texas Go (Clean Energy) Independent?

Joining us this week is Congressional candidate for Texas district 21, Joseph Kopser. He’s a military vet and clean energy entrepreneur on the hunt for enemy of science Lamar Hunt’s seat.

This is the first in our series of conversations with candidates supported by 314 Action, the largest pro-science advocacy organization committed to electing scientists and STEM professionals to public office.

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

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#30: What's the Business Incentive for Going Green?

In Episode 30, Quinn & Brian ask: what’s the business incentive for climate/clean energy action?

In light of the Paris Agreement and all the bullshit that’s gone down since, we drafted Will Hackman to be our guest and explain it all.

Will’s been a campaign manager for the House and Senate, he’s worked as a marine fisheries conservation advocate, he represented Georgetown University at the UN climate change conference, and he’s an author on various energy, environmental, and climate change topics.

He’s also leaving immediately after this call to go to Alaska and potentially never come back.

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

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#29: The Pope Has Decided to Fix Climate Change With His Own Bare Hands

In Episode 29, Quinn & Brian ponder the fact that the Pope Has Decided to Defeat Climate Change With His Own Bare Hands

Our guest — Jose Aguto. Jose is the Associate Director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, where he works to lead Catholicism into climate action, which includes building and providing the tools to do so.

We’re excited to continue our streak of talking to and hopefully not insulting the last segments of the population that we (desperately) need to get on board with climate action — whatever their beliefs. Cracking this little problem is gonna take every single last one of us, and yes that means you too, Steve.

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

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