Venice Floods A Warning For Coastal Cities
According to a new climate report, rising sea levels will make extreme flooding that used to happen in Venice once every 100 years occur every six years by 2050.
Venice’s famed historic sites are at risk of irreparable structural damage after a series of floods engulfed the city over the past week, in what experts warn is an omen of the destruction rising sea levels will have on the world’s coastal cities.
“Venice is the pride of all of Italy,” Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in a statement after the second flood. “Venice is everyone’s heritage, unique in the world.” Brugnaro blames climate change for the “dramatic situation” and estimated on Friday that the repair costs equal more than a “€1bn in damage and that’s just from the other day, not today,” before another flood on Sunday. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared the situation a state of emergency on Thursday night.
Rising sea levels will make extreme flooding that used to happen in Venice once every 100 years occur every six years by 2050, according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Three of the worst 10 recorded floods in Venice, spanning a century, have now happened in a week.
“We need to be resilient and adapt. We need a policy that looks at the climate through completely different eyes,” Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa said on Thursday.
In what software developer Denis Oštir described as a “mic drop from mother nature,” right-wing members of Venice’s regional council voted down budget amendments to address climate change minutes before the “council chambers were filled with water for the first time in history,” as per Common Dreams.
The floods have inspired fierce criticism over the multi-billion euro Mose project, a massive flood defense work that was supposed to finished years ago, but has been plagued by corruption scandals. Experts argue that similar projects must be implemented in other major coastal cities to ward off destruction from rising sea levels.
“Less a modern city than an open-air museum, Venice cannot be surrendered to the sea, despite expert projections that the city will be entirely submerged by 2100,” writes the Washington Post. “The current plan to save the city calls for the installation of a system of floodgates that would close when high water threatened, similar to a proposal to wall off New York Harbor in response to sea-level rise.”
In March, Mozambique’s Beira was the first city “to be completely devastated by climate change,” in the words of former Mozambican first lady Graça Machel. From Miami to Ho Chi Minh City, “some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury,” according to the New York Times.
Venice’s destructive floods are a reminder of the impact rising sea levels will have on many of the world’s most beloved coastal cities.
“It’s a city full of history,” Vladimiro Cavagnis, a fourth-generation Venetian gondolier who chauffeurs tourists on the city’s trademark boats, told the Washington Post. “A history that, little by little, with water, will end up like Atlantis. People are destroyed, anguished, sad. They see a city that is disappearing.”