Prominent Canadians Weigh In: Laura Lynch

Laura Lynch is the host of CBC Radio’s What on Earth, a program dedicated to exploring climate change. Laura began her career in journalism on the west coast and early on covered the environmental beat in BC. She has since covered environmental issues around the world and is known for her award-winning work as a foreign correspondent and for her political prowess from decades spent covering different governments, both in Canada and abroad.

What early life experiences triggered your interest in climate issues?

I grew up in North Vancouver at the foot of the mountains and adjacent to the forest. I spent so much time in nature because it was there and because my mother didn't care if I or my sisters came home with dirt on our knees.  So I suppose the importance of the world around me was embedded from a young age.  My father supported the family with his job as an electrical engineer at what was then Westcoast Transmission - a natural gas pipeline company that has over the years morphed into Enbridge.  I didn't think about the implications of fossil fuels as a child but by my twenties I had already focussed my reporting on the environment.  So I think it was always there.  Now I've come full circle after travelling and working around the world. I'm back in North Vancouver, immersed in climate change journalism and getting out into the forest whenever I can. 

What worries you most about where we are at with the climate emergency?

Of course, the biggest concern is the implications for a warming planet.  We talk about this every week on What on Earth as we explore potential solutions for mitigation, adaptation and resilience.  I worry, of course, but I am also hopeful that there is a path forward.

What green lifestyle change have you and your family started because of the pandemic?

I bought an electric car just over a year ago.  I'm very happy with it.  I also moved my banking to a credit union that doesn't invest in fossil fuels.  Small things but this is the start, not the end of what I plan to do. Of course, I'm flying far less because of the pandemic and that's just fine with me. 

What green lifestyle change are you finding most difficult to take on?

I'm exploring ways to use less plastic.  I stopped using single use plastic bags long ago but there's so much plastic packaging that seems superfluous and harmful.

Do you have a song, musician or other artist that inspires you and gives you hope as you grapple with the pandemic and climate change?

We've done a couple of episodes about the arts and the ability of artists to move the needle on climate change.  I've had the absolute pleasure to talk to Omar el Akkad about his novel American War, along with three other Canadian writers and their books: Catherine Bush's Blaze Island (2020), Premee Mohamed's The Annual Migration of Clouds (2021) and David Huebert's Chemical Valley (2021).  I commend all of them for writing works that can inspire people to action. There are so many other artists generating music, film, and visual art.  I can't name them all but their work is so important.

If a young relative were to ask you in five years' time "what did you do when the climate was tanking," what will you say?

I hope my great nephew already knows the answer.  He listens to the show, sometimes, and I know he cares about what's happening.  Information, a critical journalistic eye and a search for solutions are what we are trying to offer to listeners every week.  

What gives you hope about the future of the climate and life on this planet?

 No doubt it's the people I meet and talk to for What on Earth .  Scientists, researchers, Indigenous leaders and so many others.  And young people.  Young people who are engaged, smart and committed.  They give me hope.