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People Are Stamping Rising Sea Levels onto Dollar Bills for Climate Change

George Washington is up to his neck.
Joseph DeLappe

​Starting this week, dozens of people will pull out $20 bills to find the White House on the back submerged in water: a striking image that comes as part of a new call to action over climate change.

The project is the last of three "currency interventions" by San Francisco-based artist Joseph DeLappe. In the past, he has call​ed attention to drone warfare and police brutality with similar projects.

Photo: Joseph DeLappe

As part of this campaign, he created more than 100 stamps of a waterline, representing the rising sea levels caused by climate change. He has distributed 50 so far to people across the US. DeLappe said through the project, he aims to change the way people look at money.


"The sea level rising stamp is a way to put a graphic image of sea level rising on currency," he said. "I wanted to think of cash as a type of visual, public space and create this participatory moment with volunteers from all over. It's as much about people stamping as the people who will eventually see the cash."

In addition to the recipients of the original stamps, those interested in volunteering can request additional stamps on DeLappe's website.

Delappe's first dollar-defacing project distributed stamps of drones in order to bring drone warfare overseas to the attention of more Americans. Hundreds of people requested stamps, he said, and there are now at least 750 drone-stamped bills in circulation today.

DeLappe said climate change is increasingly at the heart of his work.

"In my work as an artist and activist, I think a lot about what I want to spend my time and energy focused on: What are the larger issues facing us?" he said. "The environmental issues right now are some of the biggest challenges facing the planet. That's something I'm going to start focusing on more and more, because in this case time is of the essence. It's very serious to all of us."

Volunteers interested in participating in the project can order a ​stamp through DeLappe's website and upload photos of stamped bills there.