Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

Vancouver-based public policy researcher and writer Seth Klein was featured at the October 27 event hosted by SFU Vancouver via Zoom. Klein’s book, A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, argues that the climate crisis we are facing today parallels Canada’s fight in World War II. Klein stated that the similarities are “not just in economic terms, but in a host of areas.” The connections to WWII reminds us that this isn’t the first time “we have mobilized in common cause across society to confront an existential threat.” 

In his discussion, Klein noted that his book aims to address how public opinion is “rallied to support mobilization during the war [and] how could it be galvanized again.” He also addresses “the role of government, the news media, [and] arts and culture [in gaining] social solidarity secured across class, race, and gender.” 

Klein examines the economic implications of eradicating the need for fossil fuels. This coincides with the need for public policy and social security for fossil fuel workers. Components of this could include “a real childcare program, free post-secondary education, and elder care, and all of these things that would change the balance of what we think we need to pay for on our own and what we pay for together,” according to Klein. 

The opening discussion offered an introduction to the first chapter of his novel: a 14-step battle plan for climate mobilization. Klein argued that  some of the most important steps are to adopt an emergency mindset, rally the public, and ensure the economic infrastructure to support the fight. In the fight for climate change, Klein’s primary focus is shifting our legal policies.

Klein noted that he believes “inequality is toxic to social solidarity and mass mobilization.” Indigenous peoples “played an important role in the second World War,” as Klein remarked. “As our mainstream politics dithers and dodges on climate change and coherent action, over and over and over again, it is the assertion of Indigenous rights and title that keeps buying us time” as Indigenous peoples have fought for the slowing of fossil fuel consumption and conservation efforts. 

A workshop moderated by SFU Professor of urban studies Meg Holden led a discussion period, following Klein’s introduction to his book. In addition to public policies regarding fossil fuel workers, Klein also discussed the importance of youth-led activism. 

Klein stated that “Vancouver has one of the most ambitious climate emergency plans in North America.” Their recent climate change motions have all been passed unanimously, which is unusual for Vancouver’s city council. Klein noted that the reason for this was the high school students who would skip school to rally outside while the votes were taking place, filled the galleries, and spoke in front of the council. According to Klein, it was their movement that “made it politically impossible to vote no.”

Klein argued that “our leaders [are] reluctant to recognize what would be necessary” in the fight against climate change. Klein noted his disappointment in the message that Trudeau’s government is sending — explaining that they passed “a climate emergency motion in the house of commons one day, and then proceed with reapproving the TMX pipeline expansion the very next day.” This is “a dynamic that [he calls] the new climate denialism.” 

With his book, Klein invites “all of us [to] reflect on who we want to be, as we act together to confront this crisis.” 

For more information on Seth Klein’s A Good War, visit his website, which outlines organizations and movements for activists, volunteers, and financial supporters. For more information on upcoming Lunch ‘n’ Learn Discussions, see SFU’s Event Calendar