A Good War explores whether we can successfully align our politics with climate science, and the conditions under which it may be possible to act boldly. Canada’s WWII experience, Klein contends, provides a reminder that we have mobilized in common cause and retooled our economy in a few short years.
Book Club Questions
The International Panel on Climate Change says that we have less than a dozen years to control unstoppable climate change. It’s scary and we desperately need to act and yet, while there has been much hand-wringing, there have been few practical proposals offered. A Good War sets out one possible suite of practical solutions. Do you feel they are workable? Do you feel they go too far, or not far enough?
How do you feel about the cost of this transformation that Seth Klein proposes in light of the amount of money that our government has spent in the course of the pandemic? Many experts feel that the costs of climate change disasters will far outweigh the cost of greening our economy. Do you agree?
Using the model of the rapid retooling of the economy in the Second World War, Klein argues that Canadians bought into the sacrifices they had to make because the government committed to broad social change after the war that would make their lives better in the long run. He argues that you cannot ask huge changes of people if you can’t offer to improve their lives. Therefore social justice must be front and centre in climate-change policy. How do you think most Canadians feel about this point of view? How do you feel about it?
One of Klein’s key messages is that it is not enough for governments and activists to exhort us to undertake individual changes for sustainability, that it is the government’s responsibility to create policies and regulations that show us the path forward and that incentivize change, both individually and corporately. Do you find this view a relief, or a copout from our individual responsibility?
The parallels between the strategies (and their subsequent crown corporations) of the Mackenzie King government and what Klein argues we need to do now are surprising. Are you as startled as we were by the almost one-to-one applicability of many of the war government’s strategies? Which of them do you think would work best? And if, practically, we can only do some of these to start, which are most critical to undertake first?
Klein goes after what he calls the new climate denialism of the left, the fact that progressive politicians and the trade-union movement will not address how trade-union jobs (and trade unions) support the fossil-fuel economy. What do you think of his position on this? Do you think that suggestions for retraining within the trades and the change needed in blue-collar jobs are workable? If not, why not?
Would you like to see the Canadian government follow A Good War’s blueprint?