Tag Archives: California

Mongabay podcast with Rachel Donald: Burning wood is not ‘renewable energy,’ so why do policymakers pretend it is?

Wood pellets from forest biomass

Rachel Donald of Ireland, an environmental journalist par excellence, was recruited to Mongabay in 2023 to take over its nearly decade-old podcast called The Mongabay Newscast. With good reason. She is the heart and soul behind the popular Planet: Critical, which covers the climate crisis by podcast and newsletter with subscribers in 160 countries.

Rachel had been reporting on Drax, the United Kingdom’s largest consumer of forest biomass for energy and a leading wood-pellet producer. She wanted to do a podcast on the issue, with Drax at the center. My colleague Mike DiGirolamo, with whom I’ve recorded from COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 and who works on the podcast, recommended she set up an interview with me. After all, I had just reported on what appears to be Drax’s intention to open the first wood-pellet mills in California.

Here’s the podcast link. I record a lot of these on both sides of the mic. Rachel was easily the best host I’ve been interviewed by. She combines a deep knowledge of the subject matter with a sharp ear for listening, a real plan for the arc of the conversation and a voice that exudes a genuine passion for the subject matter.

As Mike, who edited and produced the podcast from his home in Australia, says at the outset, if you are new to the issues of forest biomass for energy, my discussion with Rachel Donald is a good place to start.

Gov. Jerry Brown warns COP21 crowd in Paris of “Eve of Destruction”

California Gov. Jerry Brown at the Global Landscape Forum, part of COP21 in Paris. Photo by Justin Catanoso

California Gov. Jerry Brown at the Global Landscape Forum, part of COP21 in Paris. Photo by Justin Catanoso

California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose distinctive voice I recognized as I entered late the packed hall in which he was speaking, was trying to remember a song from the 1960s. “I think it’s called ‘Eve of Destruction.’ Can’t remember who sang it, but I still like it. You should listen to it. It’s perfect for today.” (The song was written in 1964 by P.F. Sloan and performed by Barry McGuire, whoever the hell they were…)

Brown was a speaker today, Dec. 6, 2015, at the Global Landscape Forum, a side event of panel discussions and speeches about the importance of land use policy and forest preservation. Brown’s panel was called: “Science-policy exchange — Big ideas to connect landscapes, climate and development.”

Brown is a leftie, hippie-type who dated folk singer Linda Ronstadt in the 1970s when he was first California governor, and ran for president in 1980 as Gov. Moonbeam. He has since become the most mature, liberal, effective and realistic governor in America. Now in his 70s, he speaks his mind, and doesn’t give a darn much what people think. Why should he? When it comes to environmental protection and innovation, California leads the nation, if not the world.

“Not one thing is going to do it,” Brown told the crowd of more than 1,500, when it comes to keeping global warming under 2 degrees C by 2100. “It’s all of it together. This conference (COP21) is one of the biggest things for climate change ever. Every country is involved. Every country is pledging to do something. Let’s get that settled and then start pushing for more.

“The challenge will be relentless. But the fact that you’re here says a lot. Don’t get tired. Don’t lose heart. Don’t get excited about something else. This is it. But it’s just the beginning. It’s a lifetime challenge and task, if we really want to save the planet. And in that, I join you.”