Venice is reeling from the worst flooding the city has experienced in 50 years, the city is “on its knees,” Venetian Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted as water submerged much of the the famous historical city. The floods penetrated Saint Mark’s Basilica, a 1,000 year old church that is considered to be one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world and one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
While floods are a normal part of life in Venice, which is famously built on a lagoon at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, they have never happened with such frequency before. Experts say that climate change is likely to blame. But putting in place protective measures has proven difficult and ironically, the Venetian council voted against a measure to fight climate change just a few moments before their chamber flooded.
Flooding is just one of the many impacts from climate change that is being experienced with more frequency and globally it threatens many vulnerable areas and regions. There is a threat that is not often considered say experts — the damage from climate change to the world’s heritage. Natural and man-made heritage sites throughout the world are in danger of being fundamentally altered, damaged or destroyed by climate change.
Climate change will impact these sites in radically different ways. Some will be hit by flooding, like Venice, others by other extreme weather events or rising temperatures. For instance, George Town, the capital of the Malaysian state Penang faces rising sea levels, landslides and more severe typhoons, whereas the Yellowstone ecosystem in the western United States faces melting snows, more frequent wildfires and a changing ecosystems.
Changes in the ocean will have a profound impact on many of these sites. Warming waters threatens to kill much of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef, while rising sea levels threaten to wash away many of the world’s great archaeological sites — including the Neolithic village Skara Brae in Scotland. [Continue reading…]