From Putin’s Ukraine obsession to fish laws and espionage, “Why It Matters” explains the world’s biggest problems (and why we should care about them). Host Gabrielle Sierra is bringing us answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask and clarifying the issues that aren’t explained often enough. She’s diving into the world’s water scarcity issue, the microchip problem, America’s alarmingly small voter turnout, and lots of nuclear problems – both in the form of nuclear energy and nuclear bombs. She brings the most compelling stories that we have had yet to hear directly to our ears with this Council of Foreign Relations podcast.
With over 50 episodes, “Why It Matters” shows no sign of slowing, especially considering it just began its fifth season. In each episode, Gabrielle is joined by leading experts to face these questions head on. Episodes are just half an hour long and cover a vast amount of material in that short period of time.
“Why It Matters” takes crucial problems that are being debated on the global stage and makes them easy to understand all while being surprisingly compelling. Until listening, we didn’t know that we actually cared quite deeply about the role lithium plays in our economic and ecological future. As the world turns to clean energy, there is only so much that wind turbines and solar power can do, apparently. We also didn’t know that we cared about fish laws! Seriously, how were we supposed to know?!
Gabrielle keeps us hooked on these seemingly far-too-complicated-to-be-interesting subjects by weaving her humor, sincerity, and genuine curiosity into these conversations. “Why It Matters” is dedicated to helping listeners understand these complex topics that news podcasts often don’t have time to fully explain.
Everything “Why It Matters” is looking into is of massive importance in our current time period. Whether it’s a matter of geopolitics, climate change, or systemic change, these are all pressing issues. They’ve discussed nuclear energy, explaining what it is, its critical role in slowing climate change, and why people are so reluctant to use it (namely high profile accidents like Chernobyl). Gabrielle has also asked about espionage, how the tactic/profession hangs in the balance as technologies continue to advance and society perhaps loses need for spies.
After the United States’ removal of troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s shockingly quick takeover, “Why It Matters” asked about the legacy this war left behind. CFR President Richard N. Haass was the head of policy planning for the State Department under President George W. Bush and later the US coordinator for the future of Afghanistan, and he joined Gabrielle to explain the lessons the US should consider for future conflicts.
He also joined Gabrielle again to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In it, Haass tells us why Putin invaded the sovereign nation, which he says probably has to do with internal divisions in the United States weakening the country, Europe’s increasing reliance on Russia for oil and gas, and Putin’s age-old obsession with reclaiming former Soviet land. On top of that, Putin saw success in Russian campaigns across Georgia, Syria, Chechnya, and during the 2014 annexation of Crimea which emboldened him to attack Ukraine.
Gabrielle always seems to ask the exact questions we are thinking. Like, we weren’t countries assuming Putin would invade? Are we doomed to a nuclear World War III? Also, why do we suddenly care so deeply about war breaking out in Ukraine when many countries in the Middle East have been experiencing war for years?
All of these questions and many more are answered in “Why It Matters.” By just laying out the facts, it manages to be completely compelling in a way not many podcasts manage. Extremely well-produced and intensely interesting, we can’t wait to see what else we’ll learn from them throughout the rest of their fifth season.