Ten million tree trunks, or in short, what’s underneath most of the buildings in the city of Venice.
First a short and very informative documentary from Deutsche Welle.
Under threat: Venice’s need to rescue its future
Built on small islands and mud banks, Venice is slowly sinking. More than ever before, the pearl of the Adriatic is under threat. Having recently been hit by its most severe floods and with a state of emergency declared, what is being done to combat this?
Well over a thousand years ago the first wooden huts were built out on the middle of a lagoon off the coast of northern Italy. The archives tell us these were the homes of people fleeing barbarian invasions in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Later, with land in short supply, man-made areas were developed. But construction was far from easy; the bed of the lagoon consisted of sediment and mud, forming a foundation that was constantly moving. Yet Venetian architects managed to build the city’s palaces, towers, and cathedrals. Venice stands on a forest of wooden piles which anchor the buildings to the lagoon’s muddy bed. The buildings themselves are constructed in such a way that they can compensate for movement, even earth tremors, without suffering noticeable damage.
But the water the Venetians built their city on is becoming more and more of a threat. Industrialization has played its part in disturbing the natural balance of the lagoon: The sea bed has subsided and the effect of the tides has changed, resulting in a water level in the city’s canals that is 24 centimeters higher than when they were first built.
Added to that is the controversial presence in the lagoon of giant cruise ships: A source of income for the city, but also one that contributes to atmospheric pollution, as well as causing wake damage.
Also an article that amplifies a few of the video’s points.
Why Venice Is Disappearing, by Jeff Goodell (Rolling Stone)
Flooding in the historic city is about more than climate change — bad engineering and corruption are also to blame
On Tuesday night, as epic floodwaters were rising in Venice, Italy, members of the Veneto regional council gathered in their chambers on Venice’s Grand Canal and, incredibly enough, voted to reject measures to battle climate change. Within two minutes, according to council member Andrea Zanoni, water started pouring in, flooding the chambers with several feet of murky lagoon water.
Coincidence? Maybe. But it almost makes you believe there is a god, and she is laughing hysterically at how foolish humans can be in the face of the climate crisis.
What’s happened in Venice this week, however, is no joke. High winds in the Adriatic Sea drove six feet of water into the city, causing the worst flooding the city has seen in more than 50 years. Tourists took selfies in San Mark’s Basilica in waist-deep water (one man swam across St. Mark’s Square – likely the first, but surely not the last, person ever to do that). Eighty-five percent of the city flooded; at least two deaths were reported. The floodwaters did incalculable damage to the foundations and structural integrity of the 1,000-year-old city’s most iconic buildings, including St. Mark’s Basilica. “These are the effects of climate change,” Venice mayor Luigi Burganaro said as he waded through the flooded city.
But the tragedy of Venice is about more than climate change and the power of rising seas. It’s about how bad engineering, combined with greed and incompetence, can make the climate crisis we are facing so much worse …