The Peaceful Revolutionary Party

The Peaceful Revolutionary Party

27 January 2017

James Hansen

“Sophie’s Planet” will aim at a wider audience than reached by “Storms of My Grandchildren”.  The climate science should be more transparent, with more emphasis on political implications.

Paramount among the latter is the need for a third party, distinct from present inept minor parties.  I noted the third party need in my Ridenhour remarks and in a Communication.  David Brooks had a superb article on the need for a third party in the New York Times on November 8, 2016.

Party organization and procedures should elevate issues above personality, and the authority of a Nominee for President should be constrained.  Consider the “spoiler” problem that occurs when a third party siphons votes in the Presidential election from the major party with which the third party has most issue-commonality.  One approach would be for the Convention delegates to vote, after Nominees are chosen by all parties, on whether the party will campaign for its Nominee (selected in their Convention, which would occur prior to the conventions of the major parties) or throw its support behind a nominee of a major party.  This authority of the Convention, which must be accepted by all potential Nominees, should solve the ego problem that keeps a third party candidate in the race even when it is clear that he/she can only be a spoiler.  Even if the budding third party is initially limited to a few seats in Congress, the ability to be a swing vote can provide substantial power and a base for growth.

I would appreciate suggestions for the nature and workings of a third party.  The democratic process would be served, I believe if the Convention is more meaningful than those of the major parties.  Delegates need not be sworn to a Presidential Candidate, but rather elected on their own credentials and on their positions regarding issues.  Funding from special interests should be prohibited.  Social media permit sufficient communication without use of dirty money.

Note that the philosophy and tactics of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) are similar to what I am suggesting.  CCL relies almost entirely on its volunteers.  Their numbers have doubled or nearly doubled each year for several years.  They now number about 100,000, already enough that they might form the core of a third party based on the principles upon which our nation was founded.

Benjamin Franklin said “We need a revolution every 200 years, because all governments become stale and corrupt after 200 years.”  A suggested party name is the Peaceful Revolutionary Party.

After my Ridenhour remarks (in Washington in 2013) Ralph Nader grabbed me as I was leaving the room, said that he agreed with what I had said, and asked if I could help with fund raising. I was a big fan of Ralph’s work on consumer safety, e.g., “Unsafe at Any Speed”.  However, the third party that I am talking about is quite different.

Speaking of funding, I note that our Columbia University program Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions (CSAS) is funded through 2017, thanks to a generous grant received two years ago and continued support from other donors, most of them acknowledged in our recent papers[1].  However, our non-profit 501c3 CSAS, Inc[2] will run out of funding within a few months unless we find additional funding sources.  CSAS, Inc. provides an overhead-free mechanism to support our work (including travel, computers, copiers), with, by far, the greatest expense being the legal costs we cover for Our Children’s Trust lawyers, specifically for Dan Galpern, who is working with me in preparation of testimony and briefs for the case (Juliana et al v. United States) against the Federal government and several other cases.  Legal costs covered by CSAS, Inc. are now more than $100K/year.  We are up against the best lawyers that fossil fuel money can buy.  I am confident that we will do very well, but only with meticulous preparation.  The most satisfying case that I have ever been involved in was the one in the UK in which our testimony was crucial in getting an innocent verdict for the “Kingsnorth Six”, who had shut down the coal-fired power plant.  That case was important for moving the UK toward phase-out of coal-fired power plants.  It was dependent on a brilliant lawyer, who was familiar with every line in my testimony and knew exactly the right questions to ask.



[1] Principal papers in the past year being:

Hansen, J. and M. Sato: Regional climate change and national responsibilities. Environ. Res. Lett., 11, 034009, 2016

Hansen, J. et al.: Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: Evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming could be dangerous. Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3761-3812, 2016.

Hansen, J. et al.: Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., doi:10.5194/esd-2016-42, in review, 2016


[2] Officers of CSAS, inc. are President (Betsy Taylor), CEO (Jim Hansen), Secretary & Treasurer (Jay Halfon), Board Members (Bill McKibben, Jim Miller and Larry Travis).  Donations for CSAS, Inc. should be sent to Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, Inc., c/o Geoff Boehm, 45 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018