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One Climate Rock Star Steps Back, Another One Steps Up

This morning’s Energy Mix marks a bittersweet milestone, the last edition of the digest to be produced by our inimitable co-curator, Chris Wood.

Chris told us a few months ago that he intended to retire January 31—and now we’re thrilled for him, sad to see a fantastic colleague step back, and excited to start a new chapter as our editorial team expands in a new direction.

Chris joined the Energy Mix team in November 2015 at a moment of quiet desperation. We knew we would be covering that year’s historic United Nations climate summit, COP 21, live from Paris. We knew we wanted to produce our digest daily, rather than thrice-weekly…because it was Paris. And we knew I would have other responsibilities at the COP (really…we had no idea until we got there), so that we would need a qualified energy journalist to stand in as managing editor. Chris was available and, astonishingly, willing to take the job.

Chris and I had first worked together nearly 40 years earlier, when we both wrote for Canadian Renewable Energy News. I remember him being incredibly prolific and versatile as CREN’s New Brunswick correspondent, covering everything from solar to bioenergy, energy conservation to grid electricity. What’s more, he had spent the intervening years as a journalist and author, while I had veered off into consulting: he worked as National Editor and U.S. correspondent for Maclean’s and produced for a stunning range of print and broadcast media, including the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, and The Tyee. Along the way, he became a (slightly opinionated) specialist in trade policy, and in what he’s now got us referring to as natural security.

I knew Chris would get us through the mad rush of content surrounding the Paris conference. But something funny happened on the way to the final gavel: We both found the collaboration so positive and productive that Chris stayed on for just over two years, usually assembling and writing our Wednesday edition while I produced Monday and Friday.

Until it happened, I could never have imagined how powerfully he would help us stabilize and build our publication. How much I would learn or relearn by working alongside a real journalist who brought the news judgement, dogged determination, irreverent snark, and often devastating wit that it takes to get through a full career in professional media. Or how thrilling it would be to see The Mix become much more a facsimile of professional journalism as a result.

Chris has been hinting broadly at some new projects he’ll be taking on now that he’s, um, “retired”. That’s very good news for all of us…because whatever he has his hand on next, it’ll be flat-out, relentlessly brilliant. I hope you’ll continue to see him in our digest from time to time. But I will not let this moment go by without an acknowledgement to a fabulously committed and competent colleague and friend.

Our new chapter began a couple of weeks ago with the arrival of Gaye Taylor, a part-time professor of English at the University of Ottawa, who spends much of her time training future writers when she isn’t writing and advocating around climate and post-carbon transition issues. We’re delighted that she’s onboard, and only sorry she and Chris will each miss out on working with a truly outstanding colleague.