What If?

Lizzie Daly looks into the future for the weather and landscape of Wales in a warming world.

What If… My Home Town Drowns?

The first in a series that looks at climate change in a challenging way. How might Wales look in 50 years from now? Lizzie Daly, a biologist from Cardiff, interviews leading experts on issues that are relevant to all of us. We start with weather and landscape asking the experts to add a touch of imagination to their knowledge and a little fortune-telling to their science and give us a picture of what life could be like on a warmer planet.

So, “What if ….My Home Town Drowns? We’ve experienced the floods, we know the sea level is rising, but what does this mean for communities in Wales? Lizzie’s home town is Cardiff and we discover from Erin Owain of Acclimatise and Martin Buckle from the Welsh Governments new committee on floods and coastal erosion that we need to take action in order to face the changes.

Stuart Eves from Fairbourne is often quoted in the press about the plight of Fairbourne, but Lizzie delves into his fears about the consequences of doing nothing. Some say that we’ve always had bad weather, storms and floods, and indeed we have, as Sarah Davies, an expert in past weather tells us, but she explains why today is different. Siwan Davies a climate change expert goes further, explaining the current trends and consequences of the paths we choose, praising in particular the young people who have taken to protesting.

The last words in this first episode do go to the activists, Adam, Siân and Haf – the school protestors and followers of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, and Friends of the Earth, the voices of which, in their different ways, might make a difference in an uncertain future.

What If… We All Go Vegan?

Food and farming is a massive, emotive, subject when it comes to climate change, polarising opinions and creating strong opinions in a country like Wales where farming is part of our DNA. Some say that avoiding meat and dairy may be the single best way to reduce our impact on the earth. But is it that simple?

Presenter and biologist Lizzie Daly decided to see for herself, by doing Veganuary this year, and then discussing the issue with experts, farmers, vegans and activists. One climate expert, Prysor Williams, is also a part time farmer and takes a pragmatic view of how the future in Wales could, and should, look in 50 years. His views contrast with those of Sion Sleep, an activist and environmentalist who believes an answer lies in avoiding meat.

Between one extreme and the other, Lizzie talks to various experts about how we might adapt, from plant scientist Fiona Corke in IBERS about research into the practicalities of growing plants in a changing climate, to Alice Taherzadeh who herself a vegan works to help farmers adapt and learn for the future. Add into the mix a tree expert Mary Gagen and sustainability guru Einir Young, we get a down to earth, common sense, approach to what needs to be done.

And finally, the author of a leading book on Energy the Great Driver, Gareth Wyn Jones, who has argued for decades about how we need to change our ways, gives Lizzie a stark outline of how much carbon we really need to reduce in order to limit the planet’s warming.

What if… Wales Started a New Revolution?

The final episode looks at the solutions to our problems. Wales may be a small nation but it punches well above its weight. It was the crucible of the Industrial revolution, and could today be the driver of clean energy.

Energy and transport is the theme of this episode, and both are major key issues in Wales. Public transport is not as efficient as it would need to be to take cars off the road, and many homes are old and draughty. Lizzie, who tries to take the train everywhere, discusses the rail network and road issues with transport expert Mark Barry.

In the nineteenth century, a scientist from Swansea, William Grove, devised the fuel cell, where hydrogen and oxygen re-unite to form water, giving off energy. The arrival of the combustion engine put his device on the back burner until NASA needed a clever way to power space capsules. Back came Grove’s fuel cell – a brilliant way of producing energy, with water as the waste product. Spool on to today, and this is the basis of Hydrogen Cars. Guto Owen from Ynni Glan explains to Lizzie why and how this could be the transport of the future.

As for heating our homes, Dave Worsley introduces Lizzie to futuristic ways that will transform our buildings, making them into power stations in themselves, and demonstrates some new, and life changing, materials. Lizzie talks to Llion Evans about nuclear fusion, which might be the ultimate answer.

But let’s not forget the simple answers. Lizzie discovers over the series that solutions also lie with individuals and communities. Paula Roberts and Meleri Davies are both involved in separate community hydro schemes, reminding us that Wales has a wealth of natural resources, which not only produces energy, but injects that community spirit for which Wales is so famous.