April 9, 2019

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

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

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Important, Not Important is produced by Crate Media


Quinn:Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.

Brian:And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy. This is the podcast where we dive into a specific topic or question affecting everyone on the planet right now or in the next 10 years. If it can kill us or turn us into Iron Man or Captain Marvel or ... You've written Hawkeye here, but I'm not that into Hawkeye.

Quinn:I know. You know what? I wrote it, and I don't believe in it.

Brian:The point is we're in. Our guests are scientists, doctors, engineers, politicians, astronauts. We had a reverend. We work together toward action steps that our listeners can take with their voice, their vote, and their dollar.

Quinn:Truth. This is your friendly reminder that you can send questions, thoughts, and feedback or hand-drawn pictures, hate mail, ransom notes, whatever you need, at Twitter @Importantnotimp, or you can email us at You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter at There's a lot to do there, including ... Holy shit balls. Okay. Holy shit. We have been nominated, Brian and I, as best podcast host in the 2019 Webbys, the 23rd Webbys, which ...

Brian:23rd Webbys [crosstalk 00:01:22]. Insane.

Quinn:Fucking crazy. People who have won a Webby: Prince. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of people. Beastie Boys.

Brian:There are so many people. The nominations this year are insane.

Quinn:It's completely insane. 13,000 entries. All right. The other nominees in that category for best podcast host are Serial ...

Brian:You may have heard of it.

Quinn:So the biggest podcast of all time. For like 60% of people, it's their first podcast. So they're kind of there. Pod Save the People with DeRay Mckesson, who's just a hero, incredible leader, 21st century civil rights leader for the Black Lives Matter movement from Baltimore. And Night Vale, who ... The folks there are some of the most creative people ever. I mean, that whole series and everything they've built there is incredible. Anyways, and then us.

Brian:And then there's us.

Quinn:I don't know how the fuck we made the list, but it's amazing, and look. There's two awards. There's a Judges' Award, which we have no control over, but we're going to send Teddy to them. And there's the People's Vote Award, which we're also not going to win. But we're in it, so we would be hugely appreciative if, right now, you went to to vote for us. We're going to try to take this thing home. It's going to take 10 seconds.

Quinn:We are the only independent show on that list, which is crazy. We couldn't be more proud of that and proud of the work we do here every day. Brian hates driving to the office, and I told him it was going to fucking pay off one of these times.

Brian:It rained on me today.

Quinn:We got him a new desk and everything. It didn't rain.

Brian:Why would I lie?

Quinn:Anyways, we're so thankful. Thank you for listening and supporting us along the way. You can do it on your phone or your computer or whatever you got. We would appreciate it.

Brian:Very much.

Quinn:So back to it. Hey, Brian, this week's question is ... I thought we'd go light today: how do we atone for poisoning generations of American minorities?

Brian:So light. Just super-

Quinn:You don't have the answer?

Brian:Oh, no.

Quinn:Oh, okay. Okay, great.

Brian:We have somebody that does have some answers.

Quinn:Yeah. Tell us about our guest today.

Brian:Well, our guest to gently hold our hands through this is the very impressive Dr. Michael Dorsey. He is a recognized expert on global energy, finance, and sustainability matters. In 2013, the National Journal named him one of 200 national energy and environment expert insiders. In 1997, Rotary International gave Dr. Dorsey their highest honor, the Paul Harris Medal For Distinguished Service to Humanity.

Quinn:You're next.

Brian:I think I'm getting one of those. He's a graduate of the University of Michigan, Yale, and the John Hopkins University. Dr. Dorsey is a full member of the Club of Rome, and he's on about 1,000 boards and has worked for Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama in the areas of energy, environment, and sustainability.

Quinn:I'm pretty sure the Paul Harris Medal For Distinguished Service to Humanity is what comes right after Best Podcast Host.

Brian:I wonder how many-

Quinn:[crosstalk 00:04:16].

Brian:... email blasts he shot out to win that award.

Quinn:Oh Jesus. Yeah, I know, right? How many custom Instagram stories, graphics he made? Anyways, listen. This is a good one.

Brian:Really good.

Quinn:Incredibly smart dude, so well traveled, and just seems to ... A guy from Detroit out there who's making change everywhere he goes, which is everywhere. So fascinating chat, and we're going to dig into the history of what we have done to make this an unfair playing field just like everything else.

Brian:Way to go.

Quinn:Yep. Way to go, everybody.

Brian:Way to go, everybody.

Quinn:Let's go dig into it. We got some positive outlook going forward. Let's do it.

Brian:Let's do it.

Quinn:Our guest today is Dr. Micheal Dorsey. Together, we're going to just get into it. How do we atone for basically poisoning generations of American minorities? Michael, welcome.

Michael Dorsey:Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Quinn:For sure.

Brian:What a topic discussion. Holy cow.

Quinn:Yeah. Good stuff. We're starting off light today.

Brian:Yeah. Doctor, tell us just real quick who you are and what you do.

Michael Dorsey:I'm Michael Dorsey, and principally, I'm an investor in solar energy. That's, I suppose, what you'd call my day job. But I'm also ... have been long time involved in working on environmental justice issues, environmentalism, various kinds of activism, and then I'm a recovering professor after a decade at Dartmouth and a bit of time at Wesleyan and then had been visiting faculty at other institutions as well. That was mostly in the early 21st century.

Quinn:Got it. What made you ... I mean, I feel like there's 1,000 reasons for this, that you're here all the time and that my friends tell me about it. But what made you specifically run away from academia as fast as possible?

Michael Dorsey:Well, I didn't think I ran away. I wouldn't characterize it as running away. I gently walked out the door, and then it's kind of like the mafia in the strict sense of that term. You never really leave it. Some colleagues and I right now are working through an entity called The Climate Working Group, which is heavily biased of New York based academics, but it's a truly worldwide group. And we've got an edited volume we're working on for Rutledge's Quick Press label. That's going to come out later this year.

Michael Dorsey:It's on the interface of climate and art, so you got coauthors like Paul Miller, who's also known as DJ Spooky, and various other folks that are working on that. So we're constantly producing, and "we" is my collective of scholarly colleagues but also scholar activists, intellectuals, other professionals, constantly working in the knowledge-production space. Once you're in that, you never leave it, and really, the world is kind of an academy.

Michael Dorsey:So, while I'm formally not associated with the university, that's a space that I'll probably be in, knowledge production, for the rest of my life.

Quinn:That's cool, man. So kind of left the formal constraints a little bit. And, like you said, knowledge production doesn't really leave you, the itch to get those things out there. That sounds awesome.

Michael Dorsey:Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Brian:All right. Well, let's get into it. As a reminder, what we do here is set up a little context for our question or our topic, dig into some action-oriented questions that get to the core of why we should all give a shit about it, and what we can all do about it.

Quinn:Does that sound good?

Michael Dorsey:Sounds like a plan.

Quinn:Awesome. Michael, we like to kick this thing off with one very important question to set the tone a little bit. Instead of saying, "Tell us your entire life story," as interesting as I'm sure that is, we like to pivot a little bit and say, "Michael, why are you vital to the survival of the species?"

Michael Dorsey:If I dared answer such a grandiose question-

Quinn:Please be bold.

Michael Dorsey:... I would probably be offering your listeners the most grotesque amount of hyperbole ever possible on podcast or radio or the airwaves. So I wouldn't say individually critical. However, it is the collective of individuals that I'm working with. What we're trying to do is deliver 22nd century technology through changing the production of energy as we know it. We're doing that by actively working and installing renewable energy, particularly solar.

Michael Dorsey:I just came back from India a couple weeks ago, where I'd begun to openly invest and actively invest in a new up-and-coming, soon to be tier-one solar panel manufacturer. Tier one simply means they produce a gigawatt's quantity of solar panels per year. They're not there yet. They're soon going to be there.

Michael Dorsey:I also actively invest in solar developers, particularly green fuel developers. I have a minority stake in a couple of Spanish solar developers. We've ... now have partnerships in the Americas as well as southern Africa. We're looking at building out almost a 200-megawatt project in one project in Zimbabwe, where we're fully 18 months down track on that. We're doing smaller projects all over the world. We just are right now in process on a three-megawatt project for a school in Puerto Rico.

Michael Dorsey:So the solution that we're working on is pushing the build-out of renewable energy globally and then, right alongside that, in parallel, working to change the rules to make that build-out more realizable, let us say, to make it happen faster, to make its uptake more sensible, to also enable it to be accessed by the poorest of the poor as well as to push the richest of the rich to get behind it, particularly from the investing side, and then to twin that with education about the viability of future energy, and then to also force a conversation about where we see, at least some of my colleagues and I, see the future, the medium to longer term future of energy.

Michael Dorsey:Right now, the average solar panel, in terms of just its true cost, is down near a quarter, 25 cents for those Americans out there listening. So that means we're just under $10 the average home, which takes about two to three dozen panels. For just under $10, you can put panels, real cost, on the average home. It doesn't include all the labor costs, but the real cost. So, right now, we're really close to what we call the margin zero effect, where the hardware will essentially be effectively free. That has huge implications on the political economy of not just how we produce energy but what we can do with the profits that still come from it looking forward.

Michael Dorsey:That has huge implications for it, you can imagine. If you can generate money from something that's essentially free, you can put money elsewhere. You can take the profits that come from energy production and put them into health care and improving health care. You can put them into education. You can put them into many other things. So we are pursuing this, at least certainly from a business vantage, absolutely, but also twinning that with education, with activism, to essentially deliver climate justice, as it were, and to fight climate injustice and to fight environmental racism.

Michael Dorsey:We think ... We don't think; we actually know because we've done the numbers, we've done the math, we've done our homework ... that that future deliverable, delivering renewable energy towards a goal of using it to be a beachhead against climate injustice, we know it's possible. We know it's doable. We know that in states like South Carolina, there's more people working in the solar industry than there are in mining these days. We know in states like Texas, we got more people in solar and wind than we have in oil and gas.

Michael Dorsey:So we know in very particular areas where you wouldn't necessarily think it's happening, the solar revolution is playing out very, very aggressively. I like to remind people that the trillion-dollar train, which is really what renewable energy is, has long left the station. Anybody who's not on it is essentially a damn fool. So that's what we're up to.

Quinn:No, I dig it. So little baby steps, then. It seems like small goals.

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely. Absolutely, because you only deliver and ask for the impossible. That's the only thing that's reasonable these days.

Quinn:Yeah. Well, that's what we need, right?

Michael Dorsey:Right.

Quinn:All right. That's awesome. So very forward looking, but at the same time recognizing that the justice side and the business side and the technology side all have to go together. And that does seem like, thankfully, a theme and an ethos behind so much of what is going into planning the next generation of these economies, right, of this-

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely.

Quinn:... legislation where it exists, or regulation or market-based solutions, whatever they are, for a lot of them. Some of them do not, and there's a lot of people have arguments with this. But it seems like to the folks that, well, I guess the ones that we like the best, it goes hand in hand.

Quinn:What I want to do today is really dig into why that's necessary and kind of why, if you walk through an elementary school and there's a rule that says, "Don't put gum in the lockers," it's because somebody fucking put gum in lockers, which is ... The rules exists for a reason, and we have to talk about environmental justice because there's been a fair amount of injustice for quite a while.

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely.

Quinn:That's kind of what I want to dig into today. So, just for a little context for everybody, a little bit of a reminder, this is not the first time we've talked about environmental justice on here. But to clarify again what that means, let's use the EPA's official definition. It is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Quinn:Now, I use the EPA's-

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely.

Quinn:I use the EPA's definition right there not because they are actively upholding that, or you're probably thinking, "Well, at least this iteration of the EPA doesn't." But, really, the lack of environmental justice per that specific doctrine or anything like it has been comprehensive. The injustice has been comprehensive and significant and very specific for decades now.

Quinn:In America, 68% of African Americans and 40% of Latinos live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. That just didn't happen in the past two years. There's decades building there. And that's the baseline, right? Dirty air, dirty water, breathing issues, asthma, heart issues, food issues, heat issues, chemical dumping grounds. These are all everyday life for America's minorities.

Quinn:These relatively permanent issues are why folks like yourself and one of our favorite humans on the planet, Rihanna Gunn-Wright, the architect of the Green New Deal, are working to make sure that environmental justice and environmental equality and these new jobs and new technologies are in lockstep, like you said, and they're a codified part of any new legislation that seeks to slow down this Armageddon-like climate nightmare we're building towards.

Quinn:If we're building a new energy system for a new world, it has to include people, too. Not just the planet, not just the technology. The people. Not just power plants and not just white people, but everyone else. But here is the thornier question because we can't just move forward, at least in my perspective, and I think there's a fair amount of other people that feel this way, too. But it is a thorny one. And, for some stupid reason, it's a taboo question for many, or the ultimate [inaudible 00:16:58], which is basically, how do we atone for poisoning generations of American minorities, for building those power plants in those specific areas?

Quinn:Michael, I actually want to take a quick step back as we get into this here because you are maybe the most well-traveled human I've ever encountered. I feel like I have somewhat of a semblance of an answer to this, but I would love to know that I'm wrong in a million different ways.

Brian:I would love to know that Quinn's wrong.

Quinn:Yep. Thank you, Brian. That's great. How do international minorities compare to Americans in their suspect? I hesitate to think of cities like Deli or Beijing because everybody's fucked there. But somewhere like London or somewhere analogous or maybe a little more suburban and rural. Have these systems been designed the same way? Is environmental injustice institutionalized in those places as well?

Michael Dorsey:Unfortunately ... And I think it's very important for your listeners to understand and make in their minds the distinction between environmental justice ... And I love the fact that you began from what I would consider the first principle's position, using the EPA's definition of what environmental justice is about. But I want to make the distinction between environmental justice for your listeners and environmental injustice, as well as environmental racism.

Quinn:Please, please.

Michael Dorsey:It's important to make that distinction simply because, to answer your question dead-on, there is indeed the problem of environmental injustice in other countries, not just the United States. Many colleagues have looked at this. Colleagues at University of Michigan, Dr. Dorceta Taylor, folks at Tufts, Dr. Julian Agyeman, and many, many others have been looking at the incidence of environmental injustice in other countries. Julian, Dr. Agyeman, from Tufts has looked at a lot of this, this problem of environmental racism in the United Kingdom in particular.

Michael Dorsey:So where we have other ethnic minority groups, marginalized people, of which all countries have such individuals, such populations of individuals, it is a common thing to see that those on the margins of society, whether they be poor, disenfranchised, or whether they be black, brown, or otherwise, they are oftentimes, more often than not, the recipient of noxious chemicals, marginalization in other forms, political/economic marginalization. And that's not ... I'll say it's not completely unlike it is in the United States.

Michael Dorsey:It certainly is different because if you just go a few miles from my hometown of Detroit and walk south and you get into Canada, the very categories of African American, they change because we're no longer in America. So we've got Canadians of African descent and so forth, but though the categories change, you still have got marginalized people, native brothers and sisters, First Nations folks in Canada, being the recipient of environmental racism in many forms, whether it's pipelines or various pernicious forms of extractivism and so forth.

Michael Dorsey:So you do have that problem. You see indigenous folks to the south of the United States in Mexico again being on the short end of the stick, as it were, in terms of being disproportionately burdened by chemicals and hazards. One of my early research efforts for my master's was looking at a gold mine that was poisoning native folks in Mexico, and northern Mexico in particular. They were being poisoned by the Hecla Mining Company in Sonora, Mexico.

Michael Dorsey:So the problem of environmental racism is by no means unique to the United States. And, as you might imagine, as a consequence of its failure to be unique to the United States, the global movement for environmental justice, which parallels the global movement for climate justice, is absolutely not unique to the United States either. You've got groups around the world, whether they be in Europe, whether they're in Africa or in Asia, Latin America, around the world, fighting for environmental justice, fighting against despondent ... I'll call them crypto-klepto-pernicious transnational corporations, a lot of them sycophantic and sociopathic recidivistic corporate criminals.

Michael Dorsey:By that, I mean a very technical term of they're repeat offenders. They've been poisoning communities over and over again. They've been brought to court for justice. They've paid fines and they continue to poison communities. So the only way we ought to describe some of these corporations is as sociopathic, as recidivistic corporate criminals, which many of them are by definition. So the resistance to that kind of activity, that kind of sociopathy, is indeed thankfully a global movement. And it's taking shape in the form of a movement for climate justice, a movement for environmental justice.

Quinn:Yeah. Well, I think that ... Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense, and I'm glad to see that we're finally seeing some relatively systematic whiplash of ... And I'm not sure what enables it the most. I don't know if it's social media, which everyone loves to rip on, but it has undoubtedly connected so many people in so many ways. We can see someone like Rhiana Gunn-Wright brought to the front. We can see these children skipping school all over the world to march for injustice. We can see a Black Lives Matter march because another black man is shot in the street.

Quinn:We can see these things. We can measure these things. Anybody can get one of these meters that hooks up to your house and goes on to an open grid and can show how poisonous your neighborhood is. It feels like we're just at almost a breaking point where all of these things are enabling a lot of mass chaos but hopefully some good things to come from it.

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely. Well, I wouldn't by any means limit the battle for environmental justice to social media. The reality is that most people worth their salt, which most people are worth their salt, will fight to the bitter end for their own lives, but certainly for the lives of their children, independent of whether they can tweet about it or not and-

Quinn:Sure. Of course.

Michael Dorsey:... independent of whether they can get on Facebook and talk about it or not. So really, what's, I think, really interesting is that you've seen now a good generation and a half, two, three-generation-old movement leveraging some new tools, some new social media tools. But, really, most people forget that Sunday morning, April 4, when that shot rang around the world and took the life of Martin Luther King Jr., he was actually down in Memphis agitating for the rights of trash workers, to give them a better protection and to protect them from their exposures that they were facing.

Michael Dorsey:So this movement for the protection against toxic mayhem is a really old movement, and it's been going on for quite some time. It really, on a certain level, underpins and underscores the global movement for a healthy, safe, clean environment.

Quinn:Sure. You're right. I didn't mean to shade over those by any stretch. Again, like I think I said before we got going, we try to point people towards action steps to keep going a lot of this newer momentum involving a lot of newer folks that are marching in the streets or online for the first time, and they're learning from people like John Lewis and others who have been doing it for forever. Ray Nickerson wouldn't exist without Martin Luther King Jr., shot literally 51 years ago today, I think. Right? 1968. Right.

Michael Dorsey:That's right. It's April 4 today. That's right.

Quinn:Today. That's right.

Michael Dorsey:Absolutely right.

Quinn:That was not intended today, but I think it's kind of perfect.

Brian:[crosstalk 00:25:21].

Quinn:And you're right. They wouldn't exist without people like incredible John Lewis and all those other folks who have been doing it for so long. Like you said, it's interesting to see the folks who've been doing it forever and the new folks taking the mantle, using some of these new tools, and recognizing that their voice can have such a broader reach now.

Quinn:Obviously, young black men have been getting shot in the streets or worse for many decades and centuries in America. It's just that when it happens, everyone in the world finds out about it 30 seconds later now because it is either broadcast live, or someone is there reporting it, or his family reports it. And we're able to see that. Again, it can make things chaotic, but it is, I think, starting to cause some change. I think that's really important.

Quinn:Go ahead, Brian. What were you going to say?

Brian:Well, how does it go down? Let's get to, how is it happening in the US? Are we only making affordable real estate for minorities in communities that already have a power plant or trash water, or is it vice versa? Are we dumping in their nice backyards, ruining it? Or do we build a power plant in their backyard and poison their air and destroy their property values? Or both, probably.

Michael Dorsey:Well, the data is in, in terms of the way in which environmental racism works. There's very little chicken/egg problems. That was an old debate maybe 20 years ago when people dared argue, "Well, those poor people moved in next to that facility." But the reality is that there has been a good, long, now coming into almost a generation of data from folks, whether it's Dr. Robert Bullard, folks like Paul Mohai, again another ... There's a big critical mass of researchers at the University of Michigan, Paul Mohai and Dr. [inaudible 00:27:23], who was my professor at Michigan, and Dorceta Taylor, who's there now, that have been collecting and gathering this data for, again, going on a couple generations.

Michael Dorsey:Unfortunately, in the United States, we call it environmental racism because there has been a good, hefty track record of the disproportionate siting of toxic and hazardous waste facilities in communities of color. People of color more, many, many times over, more likely to be the recipient of that disproportionate siting than their white counterparts in the United States. So the facilities themselves are targeting those communities, and they oftentimes ... The data is in that they target those communities independent of wealth.

Michael Dorsey:It's not the case so much that you think, well, okay, perhaps if you have more economically advantaged African Americans, that somehow they're going to miss the toxic facility. Indeed, the opposite is true. Their facilities are tracking and setting up and disproportionately siting themselves in black and brown communities, more so than they are in white communities. That's just the facts. There's nothing to [inaudible 00:28:39] about it.

Michael Dorsey:That's why I like where you began with the EPA. Their reason that the EPA set up its office, now called the Office of Environmental Justice ... It should be called the Office of Environmental Equity ... back in the 20th century when they first began. But that name was quickly changed over to the Office of Environmental Justice. Their reason why they set it up was to tackle this problem that they recognized. And, despite the office being consistently underfunded, consistently marginalized by president after president, going back now 25+ years, the fact is that the EPA recognizes this problem.

Michael Dorsey:It's one that's taken seriously. It's one where we've seen a lot of litigation, as well, on behalf of a great number of communities. It's one we've seen an example of, the Flint case in Michigan. We've seen the criminal activity touched the doorstep of the former governor of the state of Michigan. So, well, we've got ... A number of folks have been indited, some folks facing quite serious criminal charges for their environmental racism that they've meted out against the citizens of Flint, Michigan.

Michael Dorsey:So this is actually not just an apocryphal problem, not just a theoretical problem that scholars have just been looking at, but it's a very real problem that has put real lives at risk, harmed a great number of citizens in the United States, and it's a problem that folks are actively battling. It's something that many folks ... We certainly take it seriously. But different communities are responding in a great number of different ways, whether it's in Flint, Michigan, whether it's communities like Chester, Pennsylvania, where they've taken the old Westinghouse incinerator that was there and had a big battle against that, whether it's in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor. A great number of communities all around the United States have been fighting this problem.

Quinn:We're getting into how we're fighting that problem, and I appreciate your appreciation for first principles. It's something that I can't say I was too schooled on younger, but the more I read, and whether it's Marcus Aurelius or other things like that later on, it is incredible how much it can clarify your thinking when you build those systems for yourself.

Michael Dorsey:Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Some of this problem is, even though I would not say the US government has been leading the resistance ... By no means, and they've been getting chastised by this. But a great number of the studies that have unearthed and exposed environmental racism have come out of government agencies. One of the earliest ones in the early '80s came out of the General Accounting Office. That was commissioned by some Congress folks, but it revealed the extent of environmental racism and disproportionate siting of hazards in North Carolina. That was a General Accounting Office study in 1983.

Michael Dorsey:So the government has ... Though they haven't been checking the problem, they've been doing a damn good job of coming up with some reports that identify it.

Quinn:Sure. And, again, it's very easy and important to point out when that is not functioning correctly or when we have been led astray in some way or that first mission statement of theirs, that principle, is being misused or misguided or not applied at all. But, like you said, there is a lot of support there, and it's going forward. We'll get into the action stuff here as well. Governments are always going to have the most power to do something because there is no private entity that even comes close, whether we're talking about pure financials or the ability to legislate on a local or state or a federal or even, in this case going forward, international level.

Quinn:It is a vital entity. Whether you're a libertarian or a liberal or conservative, it is going to have the most impact on whatever level we're talking about. So-

Brian:And, as Quinn mentioned, talking about action, how are we talking about environmental justice now going forward? What's the plan? And maybe you can talk to us a little bit about how you're building it into your plans.

Michael Dorsey:Well, it really depends almost on where you are. Like I said, there is not only a domestic US environmental justice movement; there's a global environmental justice movement. And that movement is largely ... As you mentioned earlier, it is about protecting people, first and foremost, from the disproportionate targeting and siting of hazardous chemical and toxic materials.

Michael Dorsey:But there's a variety of ways that community groups, organizations, individually, even, have been fighting this. Some of it is what I like to call keeping the heat in the street, as it were. But, at the same time, there's been not just watching, but a lot of pressure on those in the suites as well. By that, there's been litigation and lawsuits against many of the polluters. There've been many, many protests in different communities. People have brought in researchers and experts to better identify the extent of poisoning and what kinds of hazards that people are facing.

Michael Dorsey:There've been lots of studies that have been going on to track the legacy of poisoning of communities and then to come up with strategies for remediation. So there's a variety of things, tactics, and strategies that leaders and organizations have been deploying, and they've been deploying them for quite some time. There's also, I would say, an effort, particularly amongst some of the leading activist groups, to link their struggles not just domestically but worldwide.

Michael Dorsey:You've seen a big, big effort to hold some of those sociopathic corporations, like Chevron or Royal Dutch Shell, accountable not just because they've been poisoning and harming people in the Bay Area in the case of Chevron, as it has been for decades and decades, and in East Bay in particular, but also, those communities in East Bay have been working with effective communities in places as far away as Ecuador, where they've also been the unfortunate recipient ... You can't say beneficiary, but the unfortunate recipient of Chevron's echo side, and as far away as Ecuador and Amazon.

Michael Dorsey:You've seen strategies that ... People in Louisiana's Chemical Corridor, as it's called, fighting against the likes of Shell Oil, connect with those folks in the Niger River Delta in Nigeria to fight against that same sociopathic, recidivistic criminal corporation in the form of Royal Dutch Shell. So you've seen a variety of strategies, and those communities aren't just marching and protesting, which ... They've done all that, but they're hauling Shell into court in the United Kingdom. They're hauling Chevron into court in a variety of venues. They had a landmark decision against Chevron in Ecuador that was upheld by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court.

Michael Dorsey:So there's a phalanx, as it were, of community strategies rooted in legal agitation, rooted in civic agitation, rooted in research, and also rooted in strategies to essentially get out of these bad polluting activities writ large. So you've got communities making the case and making demands that they have pension funds and they have funds where they may have resources and things divested in these companies, and you're seeing now a big [C 00:37:03] change in movement, particularly not just because oil is cheap in the case of oil, but there's a pressure that's getting people to get out of all these bad industries and then to back things that work, whether it's renewables or whether it's other sorts of things.

Michael Dorsey:There's a variety of, I'll call them, pushing and pulling strategies at play, infinitely creative, infinitely dynamic, responding to the evil, as it were, of sociopathic corporate criminals, whether they be Shell or whether they be Exxon, whether they be Monsanto. You name the evil boogeyman that's been poisoning and killing and undermining communities from east to west, north to south, around the world backwards and forward.

Quinn:Sure. Sure. So we're talking about over, let's say, the last 50 years, 100 years, millions of American minorities, from indigenous people to African Americans to the increasing number of Latino folks here, who have suffered in some way, from small to large, from many of these environmental injustices. The big question is ... And sometimes this means, like you said, hyper-local litigation against a massive multinational oil company. But how do we design a system to repay them?

Quinn:The word that scares everyone always is reparations. There's been talk of reparations for American slavery, which ... Of course, right? It's the first offense. But the system wasn't abandoned after that. I mean, all you have to do is learn about Reconstruction and everything after that. It was redesigned and built upon, from housing and food to the new Jim Crow and prisons. But keep digging in specifically to environmental reparations.

Quinn:How do we do that? Why is this conversation confronting, in a tangible way, our past in such a non-starter? And what do we have to do to get that ball moving to make that a part of the national discourse, not just planning for the future but looking to the past as well?

Michael Dorsey:I don't know for whom the world "reparations" is scary. I'd love to meet those individuals [crosstalk 00:39:26].

Quinn:I think a lot of old white guys in Washington.

Brian:Old white people.

Michael Dorsey:Well, I'm not trafficking with that kind of nonsense. The reality is that we can put a price tag upon, let us say, reprehensible actions, oftentimes. Whether or not we like to do so is another thing altogether. But we do have the ability to value [tortious 00:39:52] harm, whether it's from pollution or hazardous waste of facilities. We can value it in a great number of ways.

Michael Dorsey:Given that that is possible, there is indeed an effort afoot. It has been met with, indeed, you're right, a lot of resistance both in courts as well as those old white men that you're talking about who maybe don't want to hear about it. But we have the ability to identify in cost and put a dollar value on certain kinds of harm, and then to assume that we do, we can have a conversation about, well, how people should be compensated.

Michael Dorsey:The challenge, however, I think, is do we and can we value the loss of life? Now, technically, there are ways to do that. But really, I think we've got two solution sets going forward. We've got folks that are making demands to seek compensation from harm. That's been the approach in the now going on almost 30-year battle against Chevron to get them to pay. And several jurisdictions have said they ought to. Some folks have been trying to chase down their resources and take some of their resources to get them to pay.

Michael Dorsey:But, at the same time, we don't to be only working down, let us say, one battle front. We now know, and we now have the technology ... and now the finances, oddly enough. This is really a new thing, the good stuff, in terms of energy, at least. The clean, green energy. The prices are on the side of justice, as it were. So no longer does it make economic sense to continue to burn coal and oil and even gas. It doesn't make any economic sense.

Michael Dorsey:We now see, because of that, a great number of jurisdictions as well as whole countries, even, making large commitments. We first had in the US Hawaii, which is novel in and of itself because Hawaii doesn't have a neighbor to its north. It's called the ocean. So they [crosstalk 00:42:12]-

Quinn:Right. I've heard of that.

Michael Dorsey:They made a commitment to 100% renewables. Shortly thereafter came California. Shortly thereafter came New York City, or was it the state of New York, rather? Shortly thereafter, Washington, DC, and recently, very recent, just a few weeks ago, Illinois, all making the commitment to 100% renewable energy.

Michael Dorsey:So we've got folks making the demand and trying to battle some of the evil polluting companies and to get reparations and get what is due to them from being harmed and damaged by those companies. But, at the same time, now we have an opportunity opening with building out a new different kind of future that will protect communities writ large, and that's in the form of the build-out of energy, renewable energy in particular: solar and wind.

Quinn:All right. I think that's actually getting us to a good place here, which is starting to address how our listeners can get involved in that way. A lot of them are on a local level, either looking around their township, their city, their county, their region, their state, and either holding people to the fire, electing new ones, or running themselves, and very similarly on a national level, as much as those local offices are super important and the state ones are as well for a variety of reasons, mostly in a lot of ways because that's where you're going to see the most tangible impact, especially on the environmental front.

Quinn:Young people are running for office and essentially saying, "Fuck it. I'll do it myself." We want to encourage that as well. But our goal is to provide the specific action steps our listeners can take to support this mission, your mission, our mission, with their voice, their vote, and their dollars. So let's start with their voice. One of our overarching goals always is to shine a light on where we need to go as a people, and hopefully we're pushing in the right direction, a progressive, more equal direction here in a lot of ways.

Quinn:What are the big actionable but specific questions we should be asking of our existing representatives?

Michael Dorsey:Well, there's a great number of them, to be perfectly honest. But I think-

Quinn:Give me a couple [crosstalk 00:44:29].

Brian:Let's do it.

Quinn:And then everybody can [crosstalk 00:44:31].

Michael Dorsey:If I had to really dare myself-

Brian:Oh, we dare you, doctor.

Michael Dorsey:... to focus down, I really would challenge people to do more than simply ask questions of representatives. I think that's the first thing. The reality is we need to really reorient ourselves to understand that the true sense of that term, of "representative," that means that these individuals, whether they be as, let us say, visionary as AOC, as she's monikerized, or as retrograde as Ted Cruz or any other retrograde characters ... In the end of the day, they all are working for those whom they represent.

Michael Dorsey:That is, I think, the key thing that people must never forget, no matter how progressive they seem. We began to put together what has now been morphed into the Sunrise Initiative and so forth, me and a handful of students, by closely reading and looking at the lackluster climate policies of the past president. Nobody in your listening audience should be tricked or fooled to think that representatives are somehow going to be the savior or represent the Holy Ghost or something like this.

Michael Dorsey:That's the first thing. If you have that orientation, then you don't need to go and be asking them to do things. You've got to point the way and lay down the groundwork. I think that's really what we have to focus on. But if you force me, as you're trying to do, I think there's a couple things that we might dare demand from them. We need aggressive new policies for cleaner renewable energy. A great number of states, a good third of them, actually have ... How can I say? Quasi-legal status for renewable energy on their books.

Michael Dorsey:Houses in some states aren't allowed to generate their own energy. And in a handful of states, in actually more than a handful, in a few handfuls actually, more than a dozen, we need rules that make clean, renewable energy fully legal. That's the first thing in some states. Alongside of that, we need systems that not only allow the clean and green stuff to be lawful, which may seem a bit bizarre to some listening but it's the case, we also need it to be accessible. We need rules that are going to enable those that don't necessarily have the financial wherewithal to, if they're lucky enough to own a home, or if they don't and they don't have the means to put solar panels on their home or put money down, they need to be able to get access to those resources.

Michael Dorsey:So the second question is, what are the representatives doing to basically enable access to all and for all and by all to the cleanest and greenest energy? And then right alongside that, and it's not third but literally it's a tie for second, as it were, is what are the steps that ... This probably doesn't really go to representatives. It might go to them a little bit, but what are the burdens ... And I think it might be fair to call this a burden. What are the burdens and constraints that they are putting on utility providers to generate and deliver energy from green sources?

Michael Dorsey:Right now, a great number of states have lackluster, if any at all, what we call renewable portfolio standards. And some of the ones that do, they're making the commitments for 20 and 30 years down track. Michigan is a good example. They just passed a [inaudible 00:48:52] to get money from rate payers to fund the build-out of one, and they want to do another multi-billion-dollar gas-fired power plant for the state. The fact is that long before they even build such foolishness, those investments will be underwater for the rate payers. The rate payers are going to be paying unnecessarily for these bankrupt projects, and that's with gas. And why? Because, as I told you a second ago, solar and wind is cheaper.

Michael Dorsey:We gotta have representatives [inaudible 00:49:22] that they are working for the people making the playing field, at a minimum, pro-renewable. The reality is that we probably won't even need to ... We're going to have to agitate. That's where that street heat is going to have to come into play. [crosstalk 00:49:40]-

Quinn:Keep heating the street.

Michael Dorsey:We can't wait to be asking representatives, many of whom are in the pockets of oil and gas and receiving oil and gas money. Some of them aren't going to deliver on these sorts of demands anyway. So that's why I said at the top of this, let's not, any listener, get confused and fooled and tricked to think that you're going to get things by asking people that are already captured by the dirty industries. We need to always keep that as the first principles in the front of our minds, and then we begin to pressure not just the utilities, not just the dirty companies, but also begin to build out in communities renewables.

Michael Dorsey:This is increasingly ... Even for those on the margins, the ability to do so is actually increasingly possible because solar and wind, and particularly solar, is becoming and has become so very cheap, so very affordable, and that's only going to continue to be the case going forward.

Quinn:Sure. So, quickly ... I mean, it's astonishing when you look at-

Michael Dorsey:Yeah. Absolutely. I like to call five years ago the solar Jurassic Park. Why? Because the prices were 80 to 90% higher than they are today.

Quinn:Yeah. No, it is incredible. I think it's just saying places like Bloomberg New Energy, who make these guesses about what it's going to look like or what EV rollout is going to look like or solar panel costs over time and when you build in subsidies or not ... And it feels like every two years they put out a new report, and they're like, "That went a lot quicker than we thought."

Quinn:That's great news. And you see these new reports now that say that it would be cheaper to tear down these coal and gas plants and put in new solar. That would actually be cheaper than still run-

Brian:Than to let them run. Yeah, well, you shared that awesome article. It says 75% of coal plants, if we shut them down or replaced them, it would be cheaper. It's insane.

Quinn:It would still be cheaper. It's incredible. So you talk about the-


Quinn:Right, these captured representatives, and there are some that have said now that they're not taking pack money or oil money and there are certain pledges they can take, things like that. But looking forward, as we look towards, for instance, in 2019, the entire Virginia House is up, and in 2020 obviously is a big day, who should our listeners be looking for to put into office to more truly represent us? What sort of candidates should they be identifying, or looking within themselves or their friends?

Michael Dorsey:Well, I think in the end of the day ... And let's take the question and chop it in half.


Michael Dorsey:In terms of those folks that are making pledges to not take the dirty money, there are far and many of them. I just heard the other day, and you guys probably saw it, [Mayor Pete 00:52:30] said he's not going to take any more oil money. The reality is, as nice as that is, is that we've got to keep our eye on all of the representatives. I don't care who they are or where they're coming from.

Michael Dorsey:The key thing for the citizenry, the key thing for Joe and Jane Citizen, as it were, no matter where they're from, no matter what their orientation is, no matter what their political disposition is, right, left, or otherwise, is, "Well, that's great, Mayor Pete. You get one thumb up." But the reality is everybody's got to make sure that next week and next month and next year that that commitment stays true and it also not just symbolically is true, but that Mayor Pete and others who make those claims, that they walk the talk because there's nothing less unworthy than to make those claims, as some do, but then ... He may not take it, but then he may not be walking the talk.

Michael Dorsey:That's the first thing I think that people have to get on with, is being vigilant over these characters because, again, that's what it means to be part of Civicus, to be part of the public, as it were. So that's the first part. The second part, in terms of who should people pick, I think that that's so particular to different communities. I think that people should begin to recognize and cultivate and nurture the representative in themselves. I think, from my vantage personally, many, many more people than not have that representative inside themselves, and they need to begin to cultivate that.

Michael Dorsey:The minimum level of cultivation is simply tuning in and being aware of what is going on with those individuals that are representing you. More and more people are doing that, and people need to continue to do that. It's possible to do this. I think I would ask your listeners to take the challenge that I oftentimes used to ask my students: "Okay, how many of you want clean and green energy?" Most people raised their hand. "How many of you want healthy neighborhoods?" Most people raised their hand. "How many of you want anything that's good for the community, as it were?" Most people raised their hand.

Michael Dorsey:"Well, how many of you have in the past year contacted any elected official at any level?" A few people raised their hand. "How many of you have done it in the past few months? Not even in the past year. In the past [crosstalk 00:55:14]-"


Michael Dorsey:"... six months, three months?" Even fewer people raised their hand. "How many of you have done it this week?" Maybe only a couple people raised their hand. Some of your listeners should think about that because I think, really, that's where we have to begin, at that level of civic engagement in ourselves. And then I think we'll see ... And I think it comes out organically. Those that are most interested in community, those that have been fighting the fight, whether they've been activists ... They don't necessarily have to have held any kind of office. I think it's those individuals that really have been on the front lines delivering for their communities.

Michael Dorsey:That's where we want to look to that pipeline, if there ever was one, for who's going to lead and represent. People in their communities at the local level or the state level or even a national level. And it's no surprise that the last president ... Some people chose to make fun of this, but cut his chops as a community organizer. I think that's where we see that critical ground for those that are going to have the chops to represent and do that in a serious manner.

Quinn:It does. It makes ... Look. Our last president, President Obama, was he perfect? No, not by any stretch. But, of course, it's very easy to ... You can say that in an objective way, but you can also ... We all were very quick to look upon this man and, to a great degree, his family as well and paint on him the picture of what we wanted him to be because he had the ability to offer so may different things in so many different ways.

Quinn:But there's no doubt his community organizing experience, as well as his worldliness, was able to lend him a legitimacy and a leg to stand on to understand how things get done and the reality of how things don't get done, how the sausage gets made or how it feels to be, in a lot of ways, because he with his own hands sat in church basements and tried to get community-level things off the ground. And that does translate. That does make a difference.

Quinn:I guess, then, the last note is, what about their dollar? Are there specific organizations out there that are having the biggest, most effective impact pertaining to our topic today? Anybody you really love where we could funnel some cash?

Michael Dorsey:Well, you know I'm biased.

Quinn:No, please. That's why you're here, man.

Michael Dorsey:I'm certainly keen ... And before I reveal my bias, I would say again no better place than the grassroots of the grassroots and the organizations that are fighting the good fight in the listeners' backyards, whether that's in communities like Flint, whether that's in communities like Chester, Pennsylvania, whether that's in communities like on the south side of Chicago, Altgeld Gardens and so forth.

Michael Dorsey:I think first and foremost for those that really need the resources are the scrappy, on the ground, giving that true heat in the streets organizations that many of whose names are only known ... And some don't even have websites or the resources for that sort of thing because they really are truly on the ground. So I would say first in line are those groups, and way more than I could even possibly name.

Michael Dorsey:Now, in terms of my bias, I'm certainly keen on and a fan of the Sunrise effort being led now by great new groups of young folks working tirelessly, playing a critical role in putting together what's now the Green New Deal and the components of that and agitating for that on college campuses and in communities around the country. I couldn't not give a nod to organizations whose boards I sit on, like the Center for Environmental Health in the East Bay, which is also Oakland, California, fighting the good fight against toxics in our environment and in California and beyond. Groups like Food First. Not a quintessential environmental group, but nevertheless looking at the nexus of food and economic and environmental racism and fighting the fight for food justice.

Michael Dorsey:So those are some I favor, and I think, really, folks ... First and foremost, again, I stress remembering and committing and giving resources, both the money kind as well as energy and other kinds, any kind of resources, and working with groups in their own backyard.

Quinn:Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a really good point. Like you said, there's far too many to name, and especially that have sprung up in the past few years. Some of them really are so embedded in the streets they don't have time to build a website or go hunting for money. But find out in your community, and if not, start one.

Michael Dorsey:There you go.

Quinn:There's resources out there. There's people that can help you. There are people ... We always like to say everybody can contribute in different ways, and there's somebody out there that can do your artwork for you. There's somebody out there who is really only comfortable cutting a check. That's fine. Take their money and go do what you do best.

Michael Dorsey:That's right.

Quinn:And have your impact. That's how these movements are built, is everybody doing what they can contribute the most to.

Michael Dorsey:There you go.

Quinn:All right, Brian. Bring it home.

Brian:Doctor, it has been an absolute pleasure having you. Thank you for talking to us and dealing with all the shit this morning.

Michael Dorsey:My pleasure. My pleasure.

Quinn:Yeah. I mean, you're somewhere in Europe as far as we know, and it's-

Michael Dorsey:I'm in Berlin.

Brian:Berlin. Got it.

Quinn:It's routed through three different call centers. But we got it.

Brian:And it's been wonderful.

Quinn:It's great. Michael, Jason Bourne might be coming after you. It's fine. It's all going to be fine.

Brian:You'll figure it out.

Michael Dorsey:Well, I passed the mall that he ran out of. So I actually [crosstalk 01:01:43].

Quinn:Oh, perfect.

Brian:Oh, excellent.

Quinn:Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Brian:But yeah. Seriously, thank you very, very much. Just a last few questions and stuff. First of all, if you can think of anybody, whether it's now or later in an email if you have a second, that we should talk to, anybody fighting as hard as you or maybe just under as hard as you-

Quinn:Yeah. Other world changers. Again, things that are affecting-

Michael Dorsey:So many. So many. I'll send you guys a list. There's so many colleagues that are doing amazing work, whether it's folks like Dr. Beverly Wright giving the good fight and doing the research on environmental justice and for and against environmental racism, whether it's folks like Dr. Bob Bullard or colleagues like Evan Weber on the front lines of Sunrise, or whether it's folks like Danny Kennedy out there working for clean energy in California, and on and on and on. There are so many great folks. I'll definitely send you a list.

Quinn:Well, we appreciate it.

Brian:Much appreciated.

Quinn:We always imagine that you guys are all on basically the same text message thread together, all of you people that are out there changing the world.

Brian:Yeah. That's how that works, right?

Quinn:One day, we're hoping to just slide in there.

Michael Dorsey:There you go. That would be great.

Brian:Awesome, awesome. All right. We have what Quinn likes to call a lightning round. It is not a lightning round.

Quinn:It's not a lightning round.

Brian:But we have just a few more questions if you're ready.

Michael Dorsey:Go ahead.

Quinn:All right. Dr. Dorsey, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?

Michael Dorsey:Oh, wow. I would have to take it back to maybe elementary or even early, early days. It wasn't so much me, but it was understanding in my head that my grandmother was at the forefront of union organizing against the racist legacy of the Ford family in Detroit. She gave 40 years of her life on the line at Ford, and I was quite young when I realized that not only was she on the line but she was very active in the union movement and organizing people.

Michael Dorsey:So it was sort of understanding that and that that was something that people could do was something that came to me very early. That didn't get me to be pro-union, which I am, but it sealed the deal in my head that that type of life was possible. So it was understanding that, and that was quite early.

Quinn:I love that. I love that. Grandmothers are the best.

Michael Dorsey:Yeah. No, she was dynamite.

Quinn:I love it. Who is someone in your life that has positively impacted your work in the past six months?

Michael Dorsey:Oh, wow. I would have to say ... In the past six months. Now you're putting some boundaries on it now.

Quinn:Getting specific. Getting specific.

Michael Dorsey:But I can tell you. It's quite easy to tell you it has been working with a very robust and august and tenacious group of Zimbabwean professionals, some of whom Harvard trained, but working with engineers in Zimbabwe who had been helping us build out what's going to come out to be 200 megawatts of solar. They approached my group first. To be perfectly honest, they'd been bothering me for about five years. I kept telling them that we couldn't come and invest in Zimbabwe until there was a change in the regime down there. 18 months or so ago when that change came, they called again and said, "Well, the change is here. Are you coming?"

Michael Dorsey:We've been down there ... Now they're about to pass 18 months, just after the political change, and it has been an amazing group of folks. They've been inspirational at every turn, and they've really, I think, showed me because ... Like I said, it's true they came to me before. And I said, "Well, no, we can't go down there." They stayed on me, and they've been great to work with. So they've been profoundly inspirational.

Michael Dorsey:I think, for me, it also ... It reminds us that despite the antics and foolishness and tomfoolery and hucksterism we see in our own White House, a great number of countries are being very serious about renewable energy and they're going to leap ahead. They're going to leap ahead, certainly, of the United States, and they're going to lead the way. So they've been inspirational, the folks in Zimbabwe.

Quinn:I love that. I love, like you said, their tenacity. They're not giving up. They were going to get you down there.

Michael Dorsey:Oh, they bothered me for years. "You gotta bring Fuller here. You gotta bring Fuller. You gotta bring Fuller." I kept telling them, "We can't. It's too risky to invest down there with Mugabe and everything." But when that changed, they called again.

Quinn:Oh man. That's special.

Michael Dorsey:Super inspirational.

Brian:Quinn understands. I've been bothering Quinn for years.

Quinn:All I do is try to get Brian to read three books. I've been asking for two years, just ... There's three [crosstalk 01:07:02] books.

Brian:Working on it.

Quinn:Different discussion. Not the same thing.

Brian:Doctor, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Specifically, what's your self-care, the word that everybody loves?

Michael Dorsey:I rarely feel overwhelmed.

Brian:Lucky guy.

Michael Dorsey:And then what I'd tell you ... Some people may find it overwhelming. I've taken up a habit, and some people wonder why I've done it anyway, called skyrunning.

Quinn:Excuse me now. Sky?

Michael Dorsey:Skyrunning.


Michael Dorsey:Yeah. That means usually a distance that's at least marathon length or longer, with an elevation gain or loss of more than 5,000 feet across the race. So I've done a couple of those.

Quinn:Well, now, I'm interested in this.


Quinn:This is Brian's nightmare, but we might have to talk offline about this. Please continue.

Michael Dorsey:Well, no. It would be my pleasure to tell you about it. There is an International Skyrunning Federation. Your listeners can check it out at

Michael Dorsey:Yeah. It's a fun thing. I've always been a hiker, a backpacker, a climber, and also a runner. I started running back ... Actually, I ran my first fund run or fundraiser that ... Fund run, I guess it's called. Fund run, when I was 10 years old.

Quinn:I love it.

Michael Dorsey:So quite a long time ago. And I still have the little tiny T-shirt from that race. So skyrunning is basically cross-country in the mountains. If anybody wants to join me, I'm going back to run the Tromsø SkyRace. It'll be in August up above the Arctic Circle in Tromsø, Norway. I've done that race twice.

Quinn:Brian, we're in.

Michael Dorsey:So your listeners are welcome.


Quinn:Brian's doing it.

Brian:Oh my God.

Quinn:I'm into it. Oh, yeah, we might have to chat about this more. We might have to do a live podcast.

Brian:I have some work to do.

Michael Dorsey:Definitely. We should do it. I'd be up for it. It's beautiful, too, so your listeners should definitely-

Quinn:Oh, I'm sure.

Michael Dorsey:... check it out. That's my shtick. I've only been doing it for a few years, and I run kind of slow.

Quinn:Hey, man. You're getting it done, though.

Michael Dorsey:[crosstalk 01:09:09]. Yeah.

Quinn:I love it.

Brian:Great. How do you consume the news?

Michael Dorsey:Oh, wow. Through multiple sources all the time, usually in English and Spanish. And then I'm working in about two dozen countries, so we constantly are tracking both, I would say, the political news because it has implications on some of our projects sometimes, but also certainly, right behind that and really tied for first, the political and economic news of the countries we work in.

Michael Dorsey:We follow a lot of the trade press on renewable energy. I am also gathering ... really trying to stay both in the news and ahead of the news and out of the news at the same time. By that, I mean certainly focus on the news but then looking at research, which isn't really in the news but some of which comes into the news, some of which sets the tone for how we deal with the news.

Michael Dorsey:So I'm collecting from all those sources simultaneously all the time.

Quinn:I love it.


Quinn:I love it.

Brian:All right. Last question. If you could Amazon Prime one book to Donald Trump, what book would you choose?

Michael Dorsey:Oh, wow. Wow. Amazon Prime. Wow. Yeah.

Brian:We've had quite the list.

Michael Dorsey:I only just recently got that thing.

Brian:Look, any way you want to send it. A smoke signal. Who cares?

Michael Dorsey:If I could ... Wow. This may come as a twist to some of the listeners, but I think I would send him Eduardo Galeano's The Book of Embraces, which is just a beautiful book of ... It must be, oh my God, a few hundred poignant short stories, some of whom are as short as a paragraph. Some of the longest ones may be two or three pages. But each short story in The Book of Embraces contains in it a potent parable or anecdote about the ... I guess you might say how amazingly possible humans are in the face of not just adversity but complex situations and circumstances.

Michael Dorsey:I think that that's something that, even though he probably wouldn't read it, that anybody who dares call themself president ought to be tuned in to.

Quinn:I love it.


Quinn:That's awesome. I have a special place in my heart for short stories. There's some incredible literature out there. Amazing. Dr. Dorsey, where can our listeners follow you on the internet?

Michael Dorsey:Oh my God. You could do that at Twitter, and I should actually confess ... I've never confessed to this in public.

Quinn:Oh boy.

Michael Dorsey:But a great amount of my Twitter is automated because who has serious time for tweeting? I'll leave that with those who do actively tweet to ponder. So, that said, you can go to GreenHejira, which is ... So it's green. That's all one word, green, G-R-E-E-N. Hejira, H-E-J-I-R-A. And that's my Twitter handle. A lot of it's automated, so confession first.

Quinn:Yep. This is a safe place.

Michael Dorsey:But check me out there. And, in reality, real talk for listeners, I know folks may not have time ... And don't fill my box, people. But be in touch. There's no reason to follow me. Let's have a conversation. Let's move the meter together.

Quinn:Man, I love that. Absolutely. Conversations are hopefully what's going to get things done. That's our goal here. Well, listen. Dr. Dorsey, can't thank you enough for everything you're doing and everything you're going to do and for taking the time today and the pure street hustle it took to get this conversation done.

Michael Dorsey:No, totally my pleasure. My pleasure. Definitely.

Quinn:Awesome. Well, listen. We will talk to you again soon. Good luck with all the travel. I hope you get your bag back at some point.

Michael Dorsey:I'm looking forward to it.

Brian:That would be great.

Quinn:Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure. All right. Well, we will talk to you soon. Thank you so much, doctor.

Brian:Thank you.

Quinn:Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish-washing or fucking dog-walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at It has all the news most vital to our survival as a species.

Brian:You can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @Importantnotimp. Just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram, @Importantnotimportant. Pinterest and Tumbler, the same thing. So check us out. Follow us. Share us. Like us. You know the deal. Please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And, if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcast. Keep the lights on. Thanks.


Brian:You can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website,

Quinn:Thanks to the very awesome Tim [Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.

Brian:Thanks, guys.