The Beautiful City of Venice Is Underwater After the Highest Tide in 50 Years

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If you’ve been paying attention to the news the last week or so, you’ve seen the heartbreaking and devastating floods in one of Europe’s most-visited cities. Venice, Italy is a breathtaking destination, famous for its canals and historic buildings.

Recently, the highest tide in 50 years has inundated the city, and the mayor of Venice has blamed the catastrophe on one thing: climate change.

More than 85% of Venice flooded during this event, and the famous St. Mark’s Basilica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years. Four of those six floods have been in the past 20 years. Official records about such events in Venice have only been kept since 1923, and these high tides (called acqua alta in Italian) reached the highest levels in the city since 1966.

Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region of which Venice is a part of, said, “We are faced with total, apocalyptic devastation. The art, the basilica, the shops and the homes, a disaster…Venice is bracing itself for the next high tide.” Zaia also described Venice as being “on its knees.”

The images coming out of Venice are shocking and sad, to say the least. People and animals trudging through the high waters, attempting to find higher ground and to save their personal belongings.

Venice is built on top of a marshy, shallow lagoon, which doesn’t help the situation. Sea levels have been rising around Venice (and everywhere) for years because of climate change, but the city is also sinking, increasing the impact.

Unless drastic action is taken, the problem looks like it will only get worse as time marches on until the city disappears into the ocean. Or something.