Climate change threatens Venice, as streets flood with toll for years of the poisoning of Earth


Nastya Dulhiier

Venice, Italy, in the midst of one of its devastating floods

Pablo Anton, Reporter

For the first time in history, Venice, a city in northern Italy, prevented the normal floods that have impacted its surrounding areas for years. On October third, after too much work in the development of a new system against the horrible floods, Venetians could see the results that powerful technology can have on modern days.

To understand why this achievement is more than a victory not only for Italians, but for the whole world of technology innovation, it is necessary to delve deeper into the history of the floods within this European city.

Venice has been fighting with nature almost since it was built. The main cause of this problem is that most of the city is located directly on water. The season of floods, between October and March, is very destructive for many people. Although the floods are not too dangerous for people, some venetians have died throughout the city’s flood history because of exceptional floods. This problem also affects the economy of the city because during this season, the tourists are not able to visit the city and spend their money there. As an example, the restaurants normally have to close during the day when bad weather conditions are expected.

Since scientists have started to measure this phenomenon beginning back in 1872, some big floods have made several damages to the citizens. Although it seems to be an early year for scientist development, some punctual records had been measured many years before 1872.

Surprisingly, the first record of a large flood in Venice was taken by “Paul the Deacon”

in 589, almost 1,500 years ago.

The most impressive flood in Venice’s history was recorded on November fourth 1966, with a 194 cm increase in the level of the water. It does not seem to be much, but most of the city is just three feet above the sea level, which is equal to 100 cm.

Although some people say that there is no real evidence of climate change, the Venice floods are a perfect example of this. As reflected in the Tide Monitoring and Forecast Center of Venice, 13 of the 20 most devastating floods in Venice have occurred in the last 20 years. Moreover, looking at the top ten, four of those ten took place in 2019. The data is absolutely devastating, but also, a big reality of how climate change is impacting nature these days and how it has become a motivation for many people to change the way they live their lives.

As the floods became worse, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Italy decided to start a project against the problem. Although that was in 1987, it was not until 2003 when the construction work started, 16 years later.

MOSE (Moduo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechanical Module in English), the project, did not seem to be finished until some years later, as the initial deadline was set in 2011. Because of various problems, which includes alleged cases of corruption, the deadline was pushed back seven more years to 2018. Finally, two years after the second deadline and 33 years after the project arose as an idea, the system has started to work. It consists of 78 gates divided into four rows that separate the sea from the lagoon of Venice, where the city is ubicated. When high floods are expected, the gates lift up and hold the excess amount of water.

The first test took place on July tenth and it seemed to work perfectly fine. For Venetians, the tests were not important because they were done after the flood season and with favorable weather. Finally, on October third, MOSE was finally able to show the world the potential of its technology.

Some people may think that this is a really important achievement against natural disasters, but as data shows, humans are not just the solution to these problems, but also the cause that has been making them bigger over the last few hundred years.

It can be said that if the planet would have been preserved better, these accomplishments would not have been as monumental or necessary. All of the money, effort, time and resources that have been used in this project could have also been used to solve problems that are not man-made. MOSE is a really big achievement but in the end, it is just a temporary solution for a problem that has been created over hundreds of years. However, it is one step forward after ten steps backwards.