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150 year Epic Floods in Venice Foreshadow what’s in store for Coastal Cities as Sea Levels Rise

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Venice Gondolas / Affinity Photo Stock / Pixabay

Floods are Seasonal in Venice, But they’re Not Normally Devastating

Residents of the beautiful, canal-lined city of Venice, Italy usually take pride in their immediate access to the water. Even if every autumn the high tide comes in for flooding season, the wash-over is typically manageable enough for Venetians to cope with it and carry out their lives. 

This past week challenged the city’s relationship with water, though, as Venice experienced some of the harshest floods it has ever seen.

Between Wednesday and Friday, Venice became submerged in 6 feet and 2 inches of water. This is the second highest flood in the city’s history, just two inches away from the city’s highest flood on record, which took place in 1966.

Flood Exacts Ironic Revenge upon Far-Right Climate-Change-Deniers in Venice Regional Council Building

The salty water rode over the city’s aged barrier security system and ran through the streets. It destructively made its way into houses and stores and even did some damage to the famous St. Mark’s Square and its historic cathedral. Poignantly, the water also flooded the Venice Regional Council building—soaking the very chambers where members of Italy’s far-right League party turned down a number of propositions to combat climate change and protect the region’s environment.

Granted, Venice’s floods were not the direct cause of climate change. Their severity was more due to gravitational and astronomical idiosyncrasies that dramatically affected the tide. Nevertheless, global warming leading to rising sea levels may mean that floods like these could be happening more often. The fact that Venice saw these massive events in episodes over the course of just three days already shows that something is ecologically off. 

The vast majority of the world’s population lives by the coast, and most of the globe’s major cities are ports. Therefore, Venice could be a harrowing foreshadow of what is to come for many people once the effects of climate change come to fruition. Venice may be the first of many environmental disasters that bring glorified cities down to their knees.   

Floods and More Disaster likely as Governments Continue Passivity in the Face of Climate Crisis

There is a certain poetic justice to the fact that this happened so recently after Venice’s government decided to sideline environmental policies. The conservative council has avoided all efforts to make the region more eco-friendly, and now they are facing the tangible consequences. It is a microcosm of governments around the world denying or refusing to address climate change—their inaction will soon lead to demolition.

From Venice, we can also take away the fact that climate change is no longer a future issue. These disasters are happening right now and in real time. This changes the temporal frame of climate change, granting it immediacy and sounding the alarm for people in power to prioritize it before it’s too late.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro is currently witnessing firsthand how offsetting ecological issues helps no one in the long run. He has declared a state of emergency for the city and expects that repairing damages will exceed €1 billion. If we continue not to act on climate change, this number (like the tide) will only get higher and will submerge more cities around the world, drowning us perhaps to a point where no amount of money will be able to keep us afloat.


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