A Good War by Seth Klein, ECW Press

A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency

Klein, Seth

  • A bold blueprint to retool our economy and transform our politics for a zero-carbon future

    The IPCC’s 2018 report told us in no uncertain terms that the world has just ten years to at least halve our greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a hope of holding global warming to a 1.5°C increase. Canada is not on a path to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, and radical change to the way we live and work must happen at high speed, but how are we ever to do this?

    Well, we’ve actually done it before. During the Second World War, Canadians and their government completely remade the economy — retooling factories, transforming the workforce, and creating common cause among Canadians for the war effort.

    In A Good War, author and activist Seth Klein looks at the Second World War strategies and shows how they can be repurposed today for a rapid transition. He demonstrates that this change can create jobs and reduce inequality while tackling our climate obligations. From enlisting broad public support to new economic models, and new job creation to investment in green infrastructure, Klein shows us a bold, practical policy plan for a zero-carbon Canada.

    In a coincidence almost too uncanny, COVID-19 has brought change upon our world that would have been unthinkable a few months ago, change very like what Klein presciently proposes in these pages. It turns out the world can turn on a dime if necessary. Now is the time to use the billions of dollars governments are spending to support their economies to invest in climate change and social infrastructure for a better future. And the blueprint is in your hands.

    Available September 1, 2020. PRE-ORDER NOW!


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  • Seth Klein was the founding British Columbia director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for over two decades and has been immersed in climate change and inequality issues for his working life. He is currently an adjunct professor in urban studies at Simon Fraser University and remains a research associate with the CCPA. He lives in Vancouver, B.C.

  • Published: September 2020

    ISBN: 9781770415454

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 444


“The COVID-19 crisis and Seth Klein’s timely book demonstrate heroic measures that become possible in times of crisis. The coronavirus crisis is not yet assessable by historians. World War II presented the West with an existential crisis for which government institutions, corporations and civil society were utterly unprepared. Yet in astonishingly rapid order, society, government and industry were united in resolve and enabled unprecedented government action and leadership. Read this inspiring book to realize giving up is not an option and ‘can’t be done’ is not an excuse.” — David Suzuki

“Seth Klein’s critically important book tells the climate truth: our climate emergency needs a WW2-style mobilization. In this strategic call to action we learn about Canada’s impressive war production, and how we can join the war against climate devastation. Your children’s futures are on every page. Read, organize, act!” — Raffi Cavoukian, singer, author and founder of Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring 

“Pacifists are not known for evoking war-like rhetoric, so it is one of life’s quirks that I first met an 18-year-old Seth Klein as he toured Canada calling for nuclear disarmament. But, like me, he sees that the only way for human civilization to survive the climate emergency is through an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that has only been seen in times of war — or recently in pandemic. Saving ourselves is a huge challenge. Marshaling the facts, the hope and the path forward is essential work for which writer and policy wonk Seth Klein is ideally suited.” — Elizabeth May, MP and former leader of the Green Party of Canada

"In this ambitious and informative book, Seth Klein intelligently connects past mobilization for war to the sweeping state measures now required to counter global warming." — Peter Neary, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Western Ontario

“A call to action to protect our very existence on this planet — exactly the book we need right now. This book should be on the curriculum in every school across the country and required reading for every aspiring and current politician. Seth brilliantly challenges us to embrace the possible, while rejecting the current politics of ho-hum incrementalism. The threat posed by catastrophic climate change will eclipse everything we've faced to date, and our response will be the defining task of our era.” — Paul M. Taylor, anti-poverty activist and executive director of FoodShare Toronto

“One of the great privileges of my life is having Seth Klein as a brother. Here you will see why. This is the roadmap out of climate crisis that Canadians have been waiting for. Serious, specific and madly inspiring, A Good War will fill you with the confidence and courage required to fight like hell for the future we all deserve.” — Naomi Klein, activist, journalist and author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

“This is an important book, exactly what we need right now. Seth does more than set out the urgency of our climate challenge, he draws a careful study of Canada’s extraordinary and rapid transformation during WW2 to give us a battle plan to address it. Big change is possible, he reminds us. We have done it before. Seth’s book combines urgency and optimism, ambition and clear-eyed understanding of the obstacles to change. It should become an essential resource for policy makers but also for all of us who want to be part of the solution. It is also an excellent and inspiring read.” — Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council and professor of sociology

“This is a truly great book. Few people have thought as deeply or with as much precision about the climate crisis as Seth Klein. Drawing on the lessons that history provides, he has provided a roadmap for how Canada should respond. We do need to fight the climate crisis as if it was a war, but how lucky we are: we need neither to kill or be killed, merely to do the hard but satisfying work of building a working planet.” — Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org

“In his examination of Canada’s climate action landscape, Seth Klein recognizes the deeply rooted social inequality in Canada that continues to be an obstacle for mobilizing a unified front against climate change. Highlighting the power and authority of Indigenous-led climate activism, he makes the striking case for recognizing and building upon the intersections between the fight for climate action and the fight for Indigenous Title and Rights.” — Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs 

“This is the blueprint for rapid societal transformation that we’ve all been waiting for. Klein’s book is not just about thinking big, it’s about doing BIG. During the Second World War, Canada was nimble and consistently hit above its weight: mobilizing media, industry and the citizenry to face the biggest challenge of its time. Today, armed with science and far greater technological capacity, we can do it again. A Good War is a fascinating, timely and strategic guide to creating a better world.” — Ziya Tong, author of The Reality Bubble and science broadcaster (former co-host of Discovery Channel's Daily Planet)