Where's the water line?

Climate Skeptic Monument

Here’s an idea that’s sure to please both sides of the climate “debate.” Let’s build a giant monument Where's the water line?to all those who oppose taking action to prevent climate change. We can call it the Climate Skeptic Monument.

Here’s a very rough plan for how it might work. I’ll leave it to others who are more politically astute than I am to refine the specifics in order to achieved maximum impact.

Step 1) Queue up some good climate legislation with the potential to really move the dial in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s ok if there’s opposition (see next steps). The key is real potential for impact.

Step 2) Identify a small plot of very publicly visible land in the heart of Washington D.C. The ideal location needs to be a place where Congressional leaders will see it regularly and where the public will be able to see it for years to come. You may want to pay attention to sea level in your purchase decision.

Step 3) Design a monument (and please do a better job than my artistic rendition above). Best if you can make it evoke climate. Don’t cheap out. This monument needs to be there for several hundred years so future generations will know who to thank.

Step 4) Figure out the exact wording for the monument. It needs to accurately capture the beliefs of today’s elected federal officials who are climate skeptics or who are acting as a roadblock to real climate change solutions. The monument’s designers have final say on the actual wording, but it needs to be something these folks would sign their name to if they really believe it.

Step 5) Seek commitment for the proposed climate legislations from step one above. For those who refuse, offer them the opportunity to go very public with their skepticism by being included (at no charge!) on your monument. If they refuse to go on (stone) record with their position, make that very public and use it as a point of pressure for your legislation.

Step 6) Erect the monument and etch those names in there for history to be the judge. Note, you may want to leave some space at the bottom of the list, just in case this process needs to be repeated over time as new members join Congress. May also want to make it clear that it’s hard to erase their name once it’s up there. It’s kind of set in stone.

This is a win-win. Think about it. For those who really don’t believe that climate change is real or caused by humans, you’ll be doing them a huge favor by helping them go on record so future generations can see just how right they were. If doing nothing about climate change was the right call, these heroes will have saved us all a lot of needless worry, right? For their children, grandchildren and future generations, this monument will no doubt be an endless source of pride. And if they’re wrong, well, history should probably reserve a special place for all those people who helped ensure we failed our future generations in taking action.

Great idea, right? I hereby give it away to anyone ready and able to implement it. It’s the ultimate in public works.

Image modified from original from: Jim Bowen


  1. I think this is a brilliant idea, but I’ve been struggling to think of what the monument would say ever since you proposed it, because I think it gets to the heart of the climate “debate” and why well-meaning people can have disagreements about such an obviously important issue.

    Here’s an analogy: Imagine if you had proposed a similar monument back in the 60’s and 70’s for the people who opposed whatever legislation you had offered for preventing nuclear war (arguably a situation at least as dire as even the worst climate crisis predictions). Today that monument would look quaint, out-dated, and mostly irrelevant, whether you supported or opposed the SALT treaties, the Star Wars program, or any of the proposals or elections that seemed critical at the time. Even today, people disagree on why or how it came to be that we no longer think this is as dire a problem as it once was.

    Maybe history solves problems in ways that none of us understand; it’s a tug-of-war, not between Wisdom and Ignorance, but between multiple proposals from well-meaning, thoughtful people from lots of sides.

    • Hmmm…. I sort of see where you’re heading here, except a couple things. The reason that the nightmare of an all-out nuclear war has receded in our social consciousness is pretty much do to the fact that one of the potential combatants pretty much collapsed, which ended the Cold War. The threat of one-off nuclear attacks is still very real, but the probability of all-out Armageddon definitely declined precipitously. I think that pretty much explains how this particular problem was “solved.”

      Also, though people might disagree on the particulars of how best to have solved that problem, pretty much everyone actually recognized it as an actual problem. That’s clearly not the case with climate. There are a number of people in positions of power in this country who fundamentally don’t even see it as real. So, that’s the goal here: to flush out those who are simply using it based on short-term financial or political gains from those who really don’t believe it’s a problem. My guess is that there is a significant portion in that first camp who might feel uncomfortable having their position be etched in stone for future generations. Those in the latter camp probably won’t have a problem with it.

      Thanks for the comments though, Richard. I always appreciate your perspective on things.

  2. My point with the nuclear analogy is that, regardless of the reason, the threat receded. If in 50 years there are people to look at the Climate Skeptic Monument, it will only be possible because the threat went away — and almost certainly for a reason we can’t predict today (who’d a thunk one of the nuclear combatants would collapse peacefully?)

    You’re right that there is more skepticism about the Climate Crisis than there was about the Nuclear Crisis. But again the Cold War analogy applies: even when everyone agreed the planet was in imminent danger, thoughtful people had diametrically opposing views on how to respond, ranging from Unilateral Disarmament to Strike First. I think it’s a mistake to over-represent the short-term motives of Climate Skeptics (heck, there are short-term motives driving some on every side). There are many people who accept the science — and care about their grandchildren — but would oppose whatever legislation you want to serve with the Monument. That’s why the wording, I think, is really the critical part of your idea.

  3. In 50 years? Where did you read that? Lol