Venice appears that it will be one of the victims of our global inability to muster the political and popular will to tackle global warming. In a new report by a UN climatologist, it is predicted that within a few decades Venetians will need a lot more than rubber boots to deal with their water problems. An article by the Italian news service ANSA is provided below.
UN climatologist sees grim future for lagoon city
BRUSSELS (ANSA) - Venice could find itself under water within a few decades if current climate trends continue, a top United Nations climatologist said on Friday. Over the next 30 or so years rainfall in the northern Mediterranean will increase by 10-20% as a result of global warming, said Osvaldo Canziani, deputy head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Speaking at the presentation of the IPCC's bleak new report on climate change, the Argentinian expert said that despite efforts to slow down a global rise in sea levels, the situation everywhere was "increasingly critical". Referring to Venice, a city built on mud islands in a lagoon at the top of the Adriatic Sea, he said: "The water of the lagoon will continue inexorably to rise. If things carry on like this, Venice is destined to disappear". The IPCC groups 2,500 scientists and is the top world authority on climate change. It has been known for years that Venice is gradually sinking into the sea but the process was believed to be slower than implied by the authoritative warning from the IPCC deputy head. Flooding is already a constant problem for Venice and the picturesque St Mark's Square, a must on Italy's tourist trail, is covered with water dozens of times every year.
Experts say there are three main reasons for high water in the city: the rising floor in the lagoon caused by incoming silt; the undermining of the islands by the extraction of methane gas in the sea off Venice; and the overall increase in sea levels caused by global warming.
In a bid to combat flooding, a 4.3-billion-euro flood barrier system is being built. The 'Moses' project consists of 79 barriers, designed to rise from the seabed to block the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea when high tides are forecast. After 30 years of debate and testing, the project was inaugurated in May 2003. Despite countless polemics and delays, about a third of the work has now been done and completion is scheduled for 2011.