All entries for Wednesday 21 February 2007

February 21, 2007

Places to Visit Before the Sea Rises (2): Venice

Venice high waterVenice is an Italian city by the side of the Adriatic sea. You knew that.

And did you also know it was constructed on some 118 islands, probably in the year 472, by some Roman refugees? I bet some of you clever students did. Other facts about Venice are: Marco Polo came from there, as well as the word “ghetto”. Furthermore, the History department at Warwick organises a term in Venice for Renaissance History students.

And another fact: it is a place you should go and visit before the sea rises. No, sorry, apologies, that´s an opinion. The fact is: the city is built at an elevation of zero metres above sea level. That is: current sea level.

The rising sea level, of course, means a serious disaster for a city like Venice, where the water has easy passage and has such an impact in the city infrastructure and daily life. The city and its lagoon, being on the world heritage list (1987), are moreover a site of special attention. Yet it was only last year that an expert commission began to bow itself over the impact of climatic change for six heritage sites, among them Venice. Also Berlusconi, when still president of Italy, started an investigation into the possibilities of placing floodgates.

For the moment it seems the water is kept away. Yet how long can it last? And are there real possibilities to save Venice if the sea simply continues to rise? In either case, there are loads more “Venices of the North/South/East/West”, so pick yourself another one if you were too late. Or will all of these disappear as well?

If you have any suggestion for another unique place that is under threat of being eaten up by the advancing sea/ocean/lake/river, let me know.

February 2007

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