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Book Launch: Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life

text: Global warming and the sweetness of life / a tar sands tale / a reading & conversation with Matt Hern, Am Johal, and Joe Sacco.  The three men stand in front of some flags, including a Canadian flag.

About the talk

Confounded by global warming and in search of an affirmative politics that links ecology with social change, Matt Hern and Am Johal set off on a series of road trips to the tar sands of northern Alberta—perhaps the world’s largest industrial site, dedicated to the dirty work of extracting oil from Alberta’s vast reserves. Traveling from culturally liberal, self-consciously “green” Vancouver, and aware that our well-meaning performances of recycling and climate-justice marching are accompanied by constant driving, flying, heating, and fossil-fuel consumption, Hern and Johal want to talk to people whose lives and fortunes depend on or are imperiled by extraction. They are seeking new definitions of ecology built on a renovated politics of land. Traveling with them is their friend Joe Sacco—infamous journalist and cartoonist, teller of complex stories from Gaza to Paris—who contributes illustrations and insights and a chapter-length comic about the contradictions of life in an oil town. The epic scale of the ecological horror is captured through an series of stunning color photos by award-winning aerial photographer Louis Helbig.

Seamlessly combining travelogue, sophisticated political analysis, and ecological theory, speaking both to local residents and to leading scholars, the authors propose a new understanding of ecology that links the domination of the other-than-human world to the domination of humans by humans. They argue that any definition of ecology has to start with decolonization and that confronting global warming requires a politics that speaks to a different way of being in the world—a reconstituted understanding of the sweetness of life.

About the speakers

Melissa Herman

Melissa Herman is indigenous to Treaty 8 territory and provides raw insight and a valuable understanding of the dynamics of rural communities in Northern Alberta. Aimed at addiction prevention and recovery, assessing services provided to residential school survivors, victims of physical, sexual and domestic abuse, Melissa’s mission to improve the quality of life in indigenous communities is life-long.

Matt Hern

Matt Hern is a codirector of 2+10 Industries, teaches at multiple universities, and lectures widely. He is the author of What a City Is For: Remaking the Politics of Displacement (MIT Press) and other books.

Am Johal

Am Johal is Director of Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the author of Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene.

Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco is a Maltese-American cartoonist and journalist. He is best known for his comics journalism, in particular in the books Palestine (1996) and Footnotes in Gaza (2009), on Israeli–Palestinian relations; and Safe Area Goražde (2000) and The Fixer (2003) on the Bosnian War.

Copies of the book will be available for sale for $25. Please bring cash if you're interested in purchasing a copy.


Melissa Herman, Matt Hern, Am Johal, and Joe Sacco


March 29


6:00PM - 7:30PM


Room 2740, SFU Surrey Campus

Registration information

To register, please visit Eventbrite.

There is no cost for this event and you are not required to print your ticket.

Contact for further information

Baharak Yousefi,