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Two Dead as Venice Faces Worst Floods in 50 Years
One elderly man was found electrocuted on the island of Pellestrina when he was struck by lightning while operating an electric water pump. The body of a second man was found in his home.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro announced on Twitter Tuesday night that he would declare a state of emergency Wednesday.
"These are the effects of climate change," he wrote.
The "acqua alta," or high tide, came up to 187 centimeters (approximately 73.6 inches) Tuesday night, according to a government statement reported by CNN. That's just below the highest tide ever recorded at 194 centimeters (approximately 76.4 inches) in 1966. Another surge is expected Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
This year's flood comes just one year after the city also saw major flooding in the fall. Last year's flooding caused €2.2 million (approximately $2.42) worth of damage to St. Mark's Basilica, according to The Guardian. And the famous church was inundated again this year, BBC News reported.
"Venice is on its knees," Brugnaro said in a tweet reported by the Associated Press. "St. Mark's Basilica has sustained serious damage like the entire city and its islands."
The church has flooded six times in 1,200 years, and four of those floods were in the last 20, St. Mark's council member Pierpaolo Campostrini told BBC News.
In total, Tuesday's floods inundated more than 85 percent of the city, the Associated Press reported. At least 60 boats were damaged, and the Venice hotel association said that it faced massive damage at its properties: Power went out and guests had to be evacuated to higher floors.
Brugnaro promised completion of the "Moses" project to protect Venice from flooding by building offshore barriers, The Guardian reported. Construction began in 2003 but has been delayed, partly due to a corruption scandal.
But Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told SkyTG24 that he did not know if the barriers would be effective against flooding like Tuesday's, the Associated Press reported.
"Despite 5 billion euros under water, St. Mark's Square certainly wouldn't be secure," Zaia said. The iconic square is one of the city's lowest points.
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If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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