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Pedestrians walk across the flooded St. Mark’s Square past St. Mark’s Basilica after an exceptional overnight “alta acqua” high-tide water level. AFP via Getty Images

Why Venice Is Disappearing

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.

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