I don’t think the world will let Venice disappear.Fabio Carrera
The city is sinking – and there’s nothing much we can do about it. Even the authorities are not quite sure if they can save Venice from sinking.
It is like the last stage of cancer, doing rounds in the destination for more than a few centuries. In simple heartbreaking words, the city is dying – very slowly.
One day the tourists might venture here by boat and deep dive into the ocean to find a lost underworld made of stone and marbles with pillars and columns and a legendary story will unfold.
They might study more about this “Atlantis” and find out more of how one of the most beautiful places in the world used to be. Or how it could have been – if we stopped it from dying.
Today, with this article we learn about the sinking of Venice while deep diving into the origins of the city, the reasons why it’s sinking and the preventive measures the authorities are taking and the ones we as travellers can take to just make it last a little more time…
Table of Contents
From The Floating City to “The Sinking City“
Venice has always been one of the most attractive, dreamy destination for people all across the globe. Even for me, since childhood, the City of Canals as we knew it to be has been a fascinating topic.
Just to imagine floating in a small boat, paddling our ways through the canals, getting the best photographs on the infamous bridges and experiencing the Italian architecture.
Venice has been known by many names: Serenissima, the City of Canals, the City of Love and the Floating City.
But with the recent problems it started facing, the city earned a new name: The Sinking… City.
Venice: The Origins
To know why Venice is sinking, we need to go way back to the time of it’s origins.
Venice was a unique establishment when it comes to the city construction. It has been purely built over the sea – by connecting the many islands of the Venetian Lagoon at the northeastern coast of Italy.
In 5th century AD, to escape barbarian invasions, the local people from mainland Italy fled to the coastal islands.
These people were mostly fishermen and salt merchants who found a large marshy lagoon to be the safest place for their families to stay and grow in.
With time, these settlers developed a unique way of life and became perfect sailors paving ways to the Adriatic Sea.
Later on, structures started to build on these marshes. Structures like houses, churches and a few public buildings.
The base foundations of the city and it’s buildings are made of wooden piles driven deep into the mud of the lagoon. These piles provide a base stable enough to get buildings constructed over them. The wood was used from the trees found in Dolomite Mountains nearby, and are known for their hardness and durability.
When in the 9th century, Venice became an Independent city, new structures were then built here. Later as the world discovered the city, commercialization happened and the city became a center for art and culture.
The unique city grew to become one of the most popular cities in the world for tourism and still remains to be Italy’s most beloved cities.
And that is why, it is important to do whatever it takes, to save Venice from sinking.
Why is Venice Sinking?
The reasons for the sinking of Venice are many – but climate change is considered to be a lot more dangerous than others.
The city has been sinking since centuries, due to it’s unique structural design and commercialization due to over-tourism as well, but the climate change seems to make the sinking more rapid, more faster.
And the reason for climate change, is us – Humans. The reason for everything – global warming, which makes the climate change occur, which makes the huge glaciers of the Arctic melt and the water come rushing down, which in turn raises the sea level – making Venice and other coastal regions around, flood.
Therefore, the number one reason why Venice is Sinking could be us.
Mentioned below are a few other reasons why the city is sinking :
As per reports, the city is sinking at an yearly rate of 1-2 millimeters due to climate change resulting in the sea absorbing the lagoon that the city is built upon.
Another natural reason is the rapid shifting of the tectonic plates that is happening, making the water bodies nearby rise way above the level than it did back a few decades ago.
Due to the recent climate change effect, the ice caps and the glaciers melt down and increase the sea levels by a few meters up.
Oil & Gas Extraction
Another reason for the Venetian Lagoon’ sinking is the extraction of oil and gas from the Adriatic Sea. As per authorities, it plays a very important role in causing the seabed to sink. As the seabed holds the entire city, it automatically becomes a stability issue for the city to hold on.
After its establishment, the early citizen of the place sailed their way through the marshes and later started trading as a way for making the location stand ground and become stable in the economic sense for the world to consider it, it’s own.
The trade started this extraction of oils and gas from beneath the sea near Venice, thus making the marshes and the islands sink – meter by meter in a few years.
Another really important reason for the sinking of Venice is none other than Over tourism. People found a city with canals, with a beautiful and magnificent landscape and started to come here in loads.
Although tourism gave so much to the land – the popularity it deserved, the economic stability and the global value amongst different parts of the world.
But with tourism comes newer constructions – like hotels, resorts, new places for travellers to explore, to chill in, new picturesque regions, etc. and this commercialization makes the region open to many risks.
(A great example of over tourism is what happened in Kedarnath during the 2013 floods.)
The high rise in the number of tourists, the big ships and cruises sailing their ways into the fragile ecosystem of the destination and the wastage that the tourists leave behind is putting an additional pressure on the already sinking city.
Lack of maintenance
The lack of maintenance plays an important role in contributing to the sinking of Venice. The infrastructure of the city including it’s buildings, canals and the bridges need regular maintenance to prevent decays and erosion.
But due to budget constraints and lack of necessary resources, the city’s maintenance has been inadequate for a lot of years now.
Due to this maintenance issue, the buildings as well as the infamous canals of the city are deteriorating over time, making the city more vulnerable to natural subsidence and flooding.
How to Save Venice from Sinking ?
Now that you know the reasons behind its cancer, we need to discuss ways to prevent this city of immense cultural, historic and artistic significance from disappearing.
With the population of over 6 million people (as per 2022 Venezia – Historical Population Data), if the city sank – it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis.
The economic impact would be devastating and the loss of Venice even after growing beyond every possibility of technology and globalization, would be a severe blow to our global heritage and a tragic reminder of what could climate change do if not controlled before time runs out.
By learning about and taking necessary steps to prevent Venice’s demise we can set a great example for other destinations suffering similar threats.
Let’s talk about the ways to save Venice from sinking :-
Limiting Carbon Emissions
One of the most critical steps to take to save Venice from sinking is to limit our carbon emissions.
The carbon emissions is a massive cause for climate change across the globe and it leads to rising sea levels which pose threat to the coastal regions all around the world – if not handled beforehand.
By reducing our carbon footprint, we can not only save Venice, but also the other cities on the brink of facing the similar issues.
We have already discussed ways to reduce our carbon footprint when we travel on a recent blog post, you can read and share it with your friends and family. This would be the first step from your side to encourage a sustainable tourism practice.
- By making small changes to their lifestyle, the locals as well as the travellers in Venice can reduce a high amount of carbon emission. This can be done simply by less energy consumption, using public transportations and healthy cuisine.
- Another way to reduce carbon emissions in the city of Venice is using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
- Government authorities could implement policies that encourage using renewable energy, incentivize sustainable practices and penalize any activity that could result in high carbon emission.
Protect the Lagoon
Another step to save Venice from sinking is to save it’s lagoon. Once the lagoon is saved and protected, the establishment of the city will remain strong – thus saving the beloved destination.
But saving the lagoon might not be that easy. It is already under threat due to pollution and other human activities.
The following strategies might be useful to protect the lagoon:-
To protect the lagoon and save Venice from sinking, we must reduce the amount of sewage and wastewater that’s being dumped in the lagoon. Along with that, the use of pesticides and fertilizers shall be reduced as much as possible.
Preserve the Natural Habitat
The natural habitat of the lagoon, i.e. it’s marshes and the wetlands are sinking, very slowly but it is a significant fall. To protect it, we need to limit the development of the city.
The city is plenty developed with so many different structures, bridges and buildings and it does not need anymore structures. Or to be more accurate, it could not support anymore development.
Sustainable Fishing Practices
For the locals, fishing is a very important part of their lifestyle and economy. But due to a mix of other factors making it difficult to save Venice from sinking, fishing is also harming the lagoon – if not done sustainably.
Sustainable fishing practices include limiting catching certain species of fishes and cancelling the use of destructive fishing methods completely.
Regular Monitoring of Water Quality
If we really want to save Venice from sinking or drowning or disappearing beneath the depth of the ocean, we must check the quality of the water in the lagoon.
It is necessary now more than ever before to detect any minor or major changes that could result in any sort of problem with the city’s ecosystem. Authorities must check and monitor for pollutants and temperature changes along with the salinity of the waters.
Engage the Community
Lastly, the most important element to really help and save Venice from sinking is to engage the local community and to inform them about these factors and raise awareness.
The local community needs to be educated about the risks of pollution, climate change, etc. along with the importance of sustainable practices and tourism.
Promoting Sustainable Tourism
Another essential way to protect Venice from sinking is to promote sustainable tourism.
It is important to encourage sustainable tourism or green travel practices for the preservation for Venice’s cultural heritage.
It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with millions of tourists coming over to witness the magical landscape and the incredible canal rides and outstanding architecture. But the travel, when not done keeping the ecosystem in mind could really harm the place much more than the place gives us travelers a sense of peace and calmness.
A few strategies to promote sustainable Venice tourism are as follows:
- Limit the number of visitors in the city: A tourist tax has already been implemented by the city’s authorities which helps in funding the city’s maintenance and restoration efforts.
- Promote alternative transportation: Exploring Venice by foot or bikes can do much well for the lagoon that taking motorboats. Walking is said to be the best way to explore a city. And if that way saves Venice from sinking, so what’s the harm.
- Responsible tourist behavior: Respect the local customs and traditions, dispose off your trash properly and avoid damaging the historic landmarks or natural habitat of the destination. Also, keep in mind that you save on your water usage since Venice’s water supply is limited.
- Promote local business and artisans: When tourists support local businesses and artisans, it promotes the local economy and the heritage of the city. Purchase local-made items, dine in local restaurants, try the Venetian cuisine and encourage the locals to help save Venice from sinking.
Investing in Infrastructure
Another important way to save Venice from sinking is for the authorities to invest in infrastructure to protect the city from natural subsidence. The city’s infrastructure needs to be maintained and upgraded to tackle the rising sea levels.
Here are a few ways to invest in the infrastructure for protecting one of the most beloved lagoon in the world:-
- One of the most significant threats to Venice is the high tides that result in the city floods. If an infrastructure or barrier can be build to prevent the excessive high tides coming towards the city, this problem can be solved. The MOSE project, a system of mobile barriers designed to prevent the city from flooding anymore has already started construction and is expected to be completed in this year itself.
- The Venice canals are an important aspect for transportation and they need to be regularly dredged to let the water flow at it’s normal pace without reduction. A structural investment needs to be made for the same.
- Along with being dredged regularly, the canals also need to be maintained quite regularly to prevent erosion of their walls. If not done properly, the water would leak into the buildings and cause structural damage which would double down the sinking of the city – with no turning back.
- Many Venetian structures or buildings are more than a century old and haven’t even been restored or renovated once. Investing in restoration of these buildings and structures would prevent further damage and ensure the survival of them.
- Last but not least, the drainage systems in Venice need to be improved to protect the accumulation of water in the city at the times of heavy rainfall. These systems need to be updated to support the lagoon when the volume of water increases.
The city’s survival depends on our ability to implement these infrastructure projects. We must take action now to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and cultural heritage of this historic city.
Researches & Innovations to Save Venice from Sinking
People from all across the globe and the localites have all been trying their level best to find ways and innovations that could help the city from sinking and protect it from becoming another “lost treasure“.
To find solutions to save Venice from sinking, supporting these research and innovation is really crucial as it helps us explore newer possibilities and technologies that could actually protect this city.
Some of the most fascinating researches have been done on the following :-
Developing flood-resistant materials and technologies.
Researchers have been working on developing materials that can withstand the effects of flooding and rising sea levels. This would include –
- Creating flood-resistant building materials
- Designing floatable structures
- Developing waterproof barriers
Creating Artificial Islands
One of the most fascinating innovative solutions that I came across was to create artificial islands which could help to reduce the impact of rising sea levels.
These islands can be constructed using sustainable materials and could provide additional space to the city. And the city could survive even if the islands that hold it together are no more above the sea.
Advanced Warning Systems
Another great innovation to save Venice from sinking is to setup highly advanced warning systems to prevent damage done to the city infrastructure from flooding.
The system can provide real-time alerts to citizens and emergency services which could people to prepare and evacuate the place if necessary.
Sustainable Energy Sources
As we said earlier, the sustainable energy sources are a really essential part of efforts to save Venice from sinking.
Investing in sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar power innovations can help reduce carbon emissions which could help in slowing the pace of climate change.
There are many other researches and innovations that could help restore the infrastructure of the city, provide ways to protect it from flooding and restore it’s heritage. We need to make sure we learn and spread awareness about these innovations and invest in them however you can if you really want the younger generations to see and experience the city of love.
Venice is a city at the brink of collapse due to rising sea levels caused by climate changes which is a result of human practices.
We messed this beautiful city up. But we still have time to protect it from disappearing. To prevent it.. from dying.
By limiting the carbon footprint, protecting the lagoon, promoting sustainable tourism and investing in the infrastructure for the city prevention, we can ensure that Venice stays the colorful, vibrant and thriving Italian wonderland for generations to come.
Share this blog to everyone you know!
That’s all Folks!