© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Venice Is The Latest Victim Of Historic Flooding From Climate Change

A city worker helps a woman who decided to cross St. Mark square on a gangway, in spite of prohibition, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (Luca Bruno/AP)
A city worker helps a woman who decided to cross St. Mark square on a gangway, in spite of prohibition, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (Luca Bruno/AP)

Venice is reeling from historic floods. And the systems designed to prevent this kind of damage aren’t completed, and may not work anyway.


Sylvia Poggioli, NPR senior European correspondent. (@spoggioli1)

Toto Bergamo Rossi, director of Venetian Heritage, which works to restore buildings and artwork in Venice. Author of “Inside Venice: A Private View of the City’s Most Beautiful Interiors.”

Rafael Bras, provost at the Georgia Institute of Technology (@GeorgiaTech). Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

From The Reading List

Associated Press: “High tides surge through Venice, locals rush to protect art” — “Exceptionally high tidal waters rolled relentlessly through Venice again on Friday, forcing the closure of St. Mark’s Square to the public and flooding most of the lagoon city’s already devastated center before easing.

“Forecasters warned that the danger for more wind-propelled high tides remained through the weekend.

“The Italian government issued an international appeal for donations to help repair damage to the centuries-old city’s rich cultural heritage after Tuesday’s floods, which were the worst in decades.

“People can donate 2 euros ($2.20) by sending a text message to a special number Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.”

The Conversation: “Venice flooding is getting worse – and the city’s grand plan won’t save it” — “The spectacular centrepiece of Venice, St Mark’s Square, now floods more than 60 times a year, up from four times a year in 1900. Recent storms reportedly helped cover over 70% of the city in water, which rose by up to 156cm above its normal level.

“Upcoming research conducted with our colleagues at the National Research Centre of Venice (CNR) shows that, without intervention, within 50 years this kind of flooding could occur with nearly every high tide. In fact, some experts have argued that Venice will be gone by the year 2100.

“The increase in flooding in Venice is due to the combined effects of land subsidence causing the city to sink, and climate change causing the global sea level to rise. But the city’s chosen solution to the problem, an unfinished scheme of 78 storm gates known as MOSE, is likely to cause damage to the ecological health of the surrounding lagoon and, in the long run, could have no effect on Venice’s preservation.”

New York Times: “Venice Flooding Brings City to ‘Its Knees’” — “The mayor of Venice, who said that the city ‘was on its knees,’ has called for a state of emergency and the closing of all schools after the Italian city was submerged under “acqua alta,” an exceptionally high tide — the highest in 50 years.

“Outdoor restaurant tables and chairs could be seen bobbing in the waters, and tourists were forced to clamber through the windows of high-end hotels as the water rose to about six feet before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

“As dawn broke on Wednesday, the authorities began to survey the damage.

“‘I’ve seen things in San Marco I thought I’d never see,’ Mayor Luigi Brugnaro of Venice told the Italian station Radio24. ‘It is a very difficult situation,’ he added.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!