It’s long been obvious that art-filled Venice is getting increasingly vulnerable when it comes to global warming and rising sea levels, but now there’s new evidence to back this up: Venice received its second-worst flood ever in November of 2019, and subsequently got four other equally voluminous tides in the weeks following. According to a new study delivered by the European Geosciences Union, Venice could experience a staggering sea level rise of 120 centimeters by the end of the century. That almost certainly means that radical plans will have to be put into action in order to preserve the integrity of the city’s buildings and its art.
“Conditions are continuing to worsen since the flooding of November 2019,” Carlo Alberto Tesserin, the chief caretaker of St. Mark’s Basilica, told the Associated Press. “We therefore have the certainty that in these months, flooding is no longer an occasional phenomenon. It is an everyday occurrence.”
“What is happening now is on the continuum for Venetians, who have always lived with periodic flooding,” Jane Da Mosto, the executive director of We Are Here Venice, added to the AP. “We are living with flooding that has become increasingly frequent, so my concern is that people haven’t really realized we are in a climate crisis. We are already living it now. It is not a question of plans to deal with it in the future. We need to have solutions ready for today.”
Venice’s art is also certainly in danger and has been for years. Although the Venice Biennale confirmed after the 2019 flooding that none of its works of art in the Giardini and the Arsenale had been damaged, there’s a longer-term scenario to be considered: Venice, as clearly vulnerable as it is potentially no longer safe as a site for any kind of valuable artifact.