Book Review: A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency

Seth Klein’s A Good War, is a book about solutions. Big, broad, whole-of-society, our-house-is-on-fire-and-we-must-act-like-it pathways to a better future. He asks, “If climate change is truly an emergency (and it is), how must we respond?” and “What lessons can be drawn from the ways that Canada has responded to emergencies in the past?” Ironically, A Good War was released just a short time before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. And you know what? Some of Klein’s war-inspired recommendations played out—demonstrating that as a country, we do have what it takes to rise to the challenge.

In a word, this book is genius. It is supremely well researched and wonderfully readable. The stories shared are compelling and engaging. They are political and they are personal. They are rooted in historical experience and steeped in science. They are also deeply practical. And in their practicality offer hope for the future of our shared planet. It is no longer a question of what to do in the face of climate catastrophe, but how do we create the “emergency mindset” necessary to take sufficient action.

What I most appreciated about A Good War were the “20 key takeaways” presented in the book’s closing pages (pp. 366-368). Here are some of the highlights:
1. Treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is.
2. Recognize that voluntary measures aren’t enough.
3. Spend what is necessary to win.
4. Create the necessary economic institutions and crown corporations.

The approach presented in A Good War is a holistic one that will serve to address long-standing societal inequities. Some takeaways speak directly to CPJ’s work as they call on the federal government to:
5. Invest in climate and social infrastructure.
6. Develop a rigorous just transition plan.
7. Embed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law.
8. Be ready to welcome tens of thousands of climate-displaced people annually.

A Good War is a unique and inspiring call to action. I am excited to be a part of the movement that will ultimately bring this vision to fruition.

A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency

By Seth Klein
ECW Press, 2020

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