Venice City Council Floods Right After Members Reject Actions Against Climate Change

Embed from Getty Images

Venetians are used to water. Not only are they surrounded by it in the lagoon, but flooding has long been as issue. However, nothing prepared them for the most recent bout with acqua alta (high water). With waters rising up six feet, 85% of the city was submerged in the worst flooding to hit Venice in 50 years. This was made all the more ironic by the fact that the Venice City Council had just met to finalize their 2020 budget—which involved them rejecting several climate change measures—right before their offices were hit by the floods.

Andrea Zanoni, chair of the environmental committee, posted a set of astounding photographs to Facebook that clearly shows the flooded chambers. It's the first time in history that the chambers, which sit on the Grand Canal, have ever taken on this type of water and Zanoni couldn't help but note the irony. As he mentioned, Venice's extremely high waters are partially due to climate change factors like the melting glaciers that are causing global sea levels to rise.

Unfortunately, the regional council is led by a president from Italy's far-right Lega Nord party and as such, Zanoni noted, that no concrete actions toward combatting climate change were approved within their 2020 budget. Proposed amendments for renewable energy financing, plastic reduction, and replacing diesel buses were all rejected.

This is made all the more disheartening by the fact that Venice's largest anti-flooding project Mose, which was started in 2003 and has yet to be completed, is obsolete before it ever even functioned. Intended to create a barrier to hold back floodwaters, the project has been marred by controversy and a ballooning budget ever since its conception. In the end, when it's completed in 2021, it will have cost an estimated €5.5 billion ($6.1 billion)—well over the original budget of €1.6 billion (about $1.8 billion).

Now, Venetians are picking up the pieces and seeking safety. One death has already been reported, as a man in his 70s was electrocuted while trying to operate a pump in his home to push the water out. For now, the lagoon and its citizens are left with the aftermath and are bracing themselves for what may be a more common occurrence as global water levels continue to rise.

“The problem is extremely complex, I really hope that this is a wake up call for the people who are in charge,” says Paola Rizzoli, a professor of physical oceanography at MIT who previously served as a consultant on the MOSE project. Rizzoli, who grew up in Venice and was in high school when the last flood of this magnitude hit in 1966, hopes that while we wait for solutions, her countrymen make the best of the situation. “I just trust the resilience of the city to survive.”

Venice experienced its worst flooding in 50 years.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Waters reached over six feet and flooded 85% of the city.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Even the Venice City Council chambers flooded for the first time in history.

Which is ironic, as they'd just voted against several climate measures for the 2020 budget.

h/t: [Gizmodo, The Verge]

Related Articles:

Banksy Sets Up Unauthorized Stand in Venice to Show His Latest Paintings

Photo Series Compares Modern-Day Flooding in Paris to Great Flood of 1910

Captured: Flooding in Pakistan

Italy Becomes First Country to Make Climate Change Education Mandatory

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content