British Columbia

Is it too late? What we need to do about climate change today

Is it possible to turn around global warming or is it just too late? We're exploring that question all week, as we launch a bonus episode of CBC's podcast 2050: Degrees of Change.

CBC launches bonus episode of Johanna Wagstaffe's award-winning climate change podcast 2050: Degrees of Change

A man carries guitars through a flood,
Resident Lars Androsoff carries his friend's guitars as he walks through the floodwaters in Grand Forks, B.C., on May 23, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Is it too late?

Since 2050: Degrees of Change, CBC's award-winning podcast about the effects of climate change, came out in early June 2017, we've seen the catastrophic effects of climate change-induced weather close hand. 

"We've seen some of these changes that experts are predicting far sooner than we expected," said CBC senior meteorologist and podcast host Johanna Wagstaffe.

This includes massive hurricanes, unprecedented flooding, and especially for B.C., record-breaking forest fires.

Verne Tom looks stops to check on a wildfire burning on a logging road approximately 20 km southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., on Aug. 15, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

In the summer of 2017, wildfires saw 65,000 people forced from their homes, and 12,161 square kilometres of British Columbia went up in flames. It was the worst wildfire season on record until this year, when close to 13,000 square kilometres of the province burned.

Down the West Coast, California is dealing with the deadliest fire they've seen in over a century after a record-hot and record-dry summer. 

But Wagstaffe says there is still hope.

On Monday, CBC launches a bonus episode of 2050: Degrees of Change, focused on how we can act today to make a difference for the future.

"A lot of the climate experts we're talking to do say it's not too late," Wagstaffe said.

"We don't have much time, but we do have some time to stop climate change from escalating."

Krystin Harvey, left, comforts her daughter Araya Cipollini at the remains of their home burned in the Camp Fire, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (John Locher/Associated Press)

One of those experts is Deborah Harford, executive director of the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University, who says climate change has to be the basis from which we make all decisions.

"In the 21st century, all policy, planning, and decision-making, whether political or personal, has to be made through a low-carbon resilience lens that's designed to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change," Harford said.

Grace Nosek makes climate change-directed personal choices in her everyday life. The creator of the Climate Hub group at the University of British Columbia and PhD student in environmental law has chosen a plant-based vegan diet and cut back on air travel to reduce her carbon footprint. 

Demonstrators march down Pennsylvania Avenue during a People's Climate March, to protest U.S. President Donald Trump stance on the environment, in Washington, U.S., April 29, 2017. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

But Nosek says the most important action she takes is at the ballot box.

"I'm a voter," Nosek said. "I love that power of being a voter."

It's people like Nosek that inspire Wagstaffe.

"It's been talking to young people, it's giving me a new round of hope. Hearing from people like Grace Nosek about what she's doing in her own life ... has made me excited about what that next generation is doing."

The latest episode of 2050: Degrees of Change is out Monday and is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and on our website,

Tune in this week to CBC Radio One across B.C. as we explore the issue of how we can turn around the effects of climate change.