Important, Not Important

Important, Not Important

Science for people who give a sh*t. Want to feel better AND unf*ck the world? The 6-time Webby nominee delivers deep conversations with the world's smartest people (scientists, doctors, CEO's, farmers, and more!), and digestible news updates every single week, loaded with tips and steps you and we can take to fix this place right up. We're talkin' clean energy and coral reefs, COVID vaccines and pediatric cancer research, clean water and carbon capture tech, asteroid deflection and artificial intelligence ethics. "A vital service in an era where important truths, outright fiction and mere trivia all compete for your attention.” - Craig Mazin, creator, writer, and executive producer of HBO's Chernobyl Hosted by Quinn Emmett


April 11, 2024 27 mins

This week:

Let’s talk about the Information Era.

Here's What You Can Do:

  • Donate (and subscribe!) to the 19th, an independent, non-profit, kick-ass newsroom reporting on gender and politics.
  • Volunteer with Tech Shift to build a fairer, more just technological future.
  • 🌏️ Get educated about the powerful institutions using technology to change society through the invaluable reportin...
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What have we learned from millennia of water insecurity, of climate changes and disasters, of building along freshwater ways and the ocean, that we can apply today?

That's today's big question, and my guest is Dr. Amber Wutich.

Dr. Wutich is an ASU President's Professor, Director of the Center for Global Health, and 2023 MacArthur Fellow.

She's an expert on water insecurity, and directs the Global Ethnohydrology Study, a cross cultur...

  • Mark as Played
    March 25, 2024 26 mins

    This week:

    Bernie decided March 15th is Long COVID Awareness Day, so I thought it was an appropriate moment to try to pull together the threads of why Long COVID pisses me off so much, examples of other self-defeating issues we never learned from, and a blueprint for how to do better, better.

    Here's What You Can Do:

    Mark as Played
    March 18, 2024 70 mins

    You know you're stressed. You know you're anxious. Do you have depression? And do you need to know the latest in the biology of how the brain works and depression works or doesn't work and whether the gut is involved in getting meaningful help?

    That's today's big question. I promise it's kind of one question, even if there are a ton of different answers, and they're going to be different for everybody.

    This conversation is a follow-...

  • Mark as Played
    March 13, 2024 29 mins

    This week:

    There are few problems so simple that a single donation can fix them.

    Usually, to turn a problem into a realistic opportunity takes many donations. Over time, spread over a large number of donors.

    But all the work before that is kind of exhausting: you’ve gotta make sure your donation goes to the right place, the right organization, the right people — usually the ones closest to the problem — with the most pragmat...

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    The climate clock is ticking faster and faster.

    How can we use capitalism to undo the bad stuff that capitalism did and maybe even make things better?

    That's today's big (loaded) question, and my returning guest is Akshat Rathi.

    Akshat is a London-based senior reporter, newsletter writer, and podcaster for Bloomberg News.

    Akshat has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Oxford, and a BTech in Chemical Engineering from th...

  • Mark as Played
    February 26, 2024 27 mins

    This week:

    Are we in the hardest part of the climate transition?

    Here's What You Can Do:

    • 🌎️ Donate to, a global movement working towards a fossil fuel-free world.
    • Volunteer with your local Mothers Out Front chapter to fight for a world that protects kids.
    • Get educated about building a clean energy company using the videos, exercises, and curriculum in Third Derivati...
    Mark as Played
    February 19, 2024 40 mins

    What are reverse coattails, and how might they slow climate change, prevent the next pandemic, and keep Nazis off of school boards?

    That's today's big question, and my returning guest is Amanda Litman.

    Amanda is one of my favorite people. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of Run for Something, which recruits and supports young, diverse progressives running for down-ballot office, state, and local, and all those fun le...

  • Mark as Played
    February 14, 2024 26 mins

    This week:

    How are we supposed to navigate this energy transition, AI, and pandemics, if we cannot agree on the most basic, fundamental shit?

    We argue about tradeoffs or gently suggest expanding the scope of our moral concern to include other people’s air, water, food, shelter, and health, instead of simply saying some things — like the lives of children — are simply, emphatically, non-negotiable.

    Here's What You Can Do:...
  • Mark as Played
    February 9, 2024 26 mins

    This week:

    Today’s essay is a bit of a departure — I just wanted to make super clear where I stand vis a vis the next eleven months.

    A MAGA party don't stop unless we stop it.

    Here's What You Can Do:

    • Donate to Voters of Tomorrow to defend democracy for the next generation.
    • Volunteer with Run For Something to help young, diverse progressives get elected.
    • 🌍️ Get educated about ...
    Mark as Played
    February 7, 2024 37 mins

    This week:

    Today’s essay is my version of a 2024 preview. Unlike other previews, though, it’s less, “This is what is going to happen” and more “These are the table stakes as far as I can tell.”

    I think that approach is much more helpful, but you can be the judge.

    Here's What You Can Do:

    • Donate to the 19th, an independent newsroom that focuses on gender, politics, and policy. Journalism is being hit hard...
    Mark as Played
    January 29, 2024 36 mins

    This week:

    I’m back today to share my 2023 wrap-up. It’s a pretty stream-of-consciousness endeavor, but I think it sums up where I was right in my 2023 preview, where I was very wrong, how the world changed — or didn’t — and most importantly, how we responded.

    Here's What You Can Do:

    • Donate to CAMFED to help them educate 5 million girls in Africa by 2030 (educating girls is key to building climate...
    Mark as Played
    January 22, 2024 75 mins

    How will the universe end?

    That's today's big question, and my guest is Sarafina El-Badry Nance.

    Sarafina is an NSF graduate research fellow, astrophysics Ph.D. candidate, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Science 2022 honoree, specializing in supernova and cosmology.

    She's also the author of the new, honest, and empowering memoir "Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark".

    Sarafina and I recorded this conversation ba...

  • Mark as Played

    Why does it matter who reviews our video games?

    That's today's big question, and my guest is Swapna Krishna.

    Swapna and I recorded this conversation in 2022, and as gaming and the entire media ecosystem changes and evolves and is pulled apart and merged, it's more important than ever to find reputable sources we not only trust, but who we have a connection with, and that's why representation matters so much.

    Swapna is a writer and ...

  • Mark as Played
    January 8, 2024 73 mins

    How do we get our attention back?

    That's today's big question. I think about it every day, and my guest is Johann Hari. Johann and I recorded this conversation in 2022, and with the Internet in general and social networks of the past fifteen years being straight-up pulled apart, I think it's more relevant than ever.

    Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, an executive producer of an Oscar-nominated mov...

  • Mark as Played
    January 1, 2024 75 mins

    How's your mental health around climate change?

    That is today's big question, and my guest is Britt Wray. Britt and I recorded this conversation in 2022. It is an all-time favorite of mine and of our listeners.

    Britt is the author of the fantastic book, Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis. She has a passionate generational perspective on how to stay sane amid climate disruption. Britt has a PhD in science c...

  • Mark as Played
    December 4, 2023 55 mins

    Has there ever been a more important time, a more consequential time, to lead with ethics?

    That's today's big question, and my guest is Dr. Susan Liautaud. Susan is the author of The Power of Ethics and of the Little Book of Big Ethical Questions.

    She teaches cutting-edge ethics courses at Stanford University. She is the Chair of the Council Trustees at the London School of Economics and Political...

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    What are the best holiday gifts that aren't privacy nightmares?

    That's today's big question, and my guest is Jen Caltrider.

    Jen is the lead researcher for Mozilla's Privacy Not Included program where since 2017 Mozilla has published 15 editions of Privacy Not Included, their Consumer Tech Buyer's Guide.

    They've reviewed over 500 gadgets, apps, cars now, and more, assessing their security features w...

  • Mark as Played
    November 22, 2023 19 mins

    This week:

    How the hell does the brain work? And what does it have to do with lemonade stands and school supplies?

    Here's What You Can Do:

    • Donate to support The Markup’s invaluable work examining the ways technology is being used to change society.
    • Volunteer with your local Surfrider chapter to keep our waterways, oceans, and beaches clean.
    • Get educated about the easiest ways your company can improve sustainabilit...
    Mark as Played
    November 20, 2023 62 mins

    I think about time a lot. Some days I feel ancient, some days I can’t believe how old I am.

    I’ve got kids, too. I can’t believe how fast they’ve grown up already. They love so many things. Swimming. Cooking. Plain pasta. The beach. Vegetables, somehow. Their friends. Their family. Dinosaurs.

    Man, oh man, do they love dinosaurs.

    I love to challenge them, to help them think about how long ago it all was, and how long it lasted. How...

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