Veneto Council Flooded Two Minutes After Rejecting Climate Action, Councilor Says
The historic "acqua alta" that swamped Venice Tuesday night also flooded the Veneto regional council for the first time, just moments after it had apparently rejected measures to address the climate crisis.
The council chamber, which is located on Venice's Grand Canal in the Ferro Fini Palace, began to flood around 10 p.m. Tuesday, CNN reported. At the time, the councilors were discussing the 2020 budget for the northeastern Italian region of Veneto, of which Venice is the capital.
"Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change," Democratic Party councilor and environment committee deputy chairman Andrea Zanoni wrote in a Facebook post reported by CNN.
The League and Brothers of Italy are far-right parties, and Forza Italia is a center-right party, HuffPost explained.
The rejected amendments included plans to fund renewable energy, replace diesel buses with cleaner and more efficient vehicles, replace high-polluting stoves and tackle plastic pollution, Zanoni said.
Zanoni further said that Veneto regional president and League member Luca Zaia presented a budget "with no concrete actions to combat climate change," CNN reported.
Zanoni joined Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro in blaming climate change for Venice's massive flooding Tuesday, according to HuffPost, though he acknowledged it was one of many factors responsible. The city saw its highest tide in more than 50 years when water levels peaked at more than six feet.
There are no words to express all this #VeniceFloods #ClimateEmergency https://t.co/Kufh6NhPqm— Giovanni Antonelli (@Giovanni Antonelli)1573763552.0
"If the voters of Veneto continue to close their eyes, Zaia's League will bring us all underwater," Zanoni said, according to HuffPost.
Regional council spokesman Alessandro Ovizach confirmed to CNN that the flooding occurred during the 2020 budget discussion, but did not specify which budget items were being addressed at the time.
But council president and League member Roberto Ciambetti disputed Zanoni's depiction of the council's actions on climate.
"Beyond propaganda and deceptive reading, we are voting (for) a regional budget that spent €965 million over the past three years in the fight against air pollution, smog, which is a determining factor in climate change," he said in a statement to CNN. "To say that we do nothing is a lie."
Ciambetti did acknowledge the flooding, and posted videos of it on his Facebook page.
"Never had such a situation occurred here (at the Council)," he told local paper Giornale di Vicenza, according to CNN.
The Italian government declared a state of emergency Thursday to help Venice recover, NPR reported.
The flooding has also continued after Tuesday, though at lower levels. On Thursday, the high water mark came to three feet, eight inches, and rain is expected to bring more flooding to the city.
"It hurts to see the city so damaged, its artistic heritage compromised, its commercial activities on its knees," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, according to NPR.
Flooding damaged almost a third of the city's raised walkways, destroyed hundreds of books in the Acqua Alta Library and filled the crypt of St. Mark's Basilica, causing major damage. The Teatro La Fenice opera house was also damaged, The Guardian reported.
#AquaAltaVenezia Ecco la situazione marciana dopo l'eccezionale marea del 12 novembre scorso. Venticinque cm d'acqu… https://t.co/AVvQJzBDoQ— Biblioteca Marciana (@Biblioteca Marciana)1573719222.0
"An apocalypse happened," Antonella Rossi, who owns a handmade jewelry store on St. Mark's Square, told The Guardian. "We haven't seen anything like this in 55 years. The water has destroyed everything, and I will have to redo so much – work that took a lifetime was wrecked in seconds."
BBC News meteorologist Nikki Berry explained how the climate crisis contributed to the historic flooding. While it is difficult to attribute any one extreme weather event to climate change, five of Venice's 10 highest tides took place in the last 20 years. Since Venice is sinking, it is especially susceptible to sea level rise.
The storm surge that contributed to the flooding also shows the fingerprints of climate change, Berry explained:
The weather patterns that have caused the Adriatic storm surge have been driven by a strong meridional (waving) jet stream across the northern hemisphere and this has fed a conveyor belt of low pressure systems into the central Mediterranean.
One of the possible effects of a changing climate is that the jet stream will be more frequently meridional and blocked weather patterns such as these will also become more frequent. If this happens, there is a greater likelihood that these events will combine with astronomical spring tides and hence increase the chance of flooding in Venice.
Conte said the government would work to "accelerate" construction on the long-delayed Mose project, designed to protect Venice from flooding using a series of barriers, according to BBC News.
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Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
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<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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