Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inconvenient truths about global warming

VENICE -- October 14, 2008 -- I saw a colorful clothing advertisement on my way here. It said "global warming ready," and showed this city's famous San Marco square filled with parrots instead of pigeons. But if global warming proceeds at the current pace, the parrots of a newly tropical Europe will fly by overhead. For Venice could be well under water in future centuries.

Refugees fleeing the invasion of Germanic tribes in the 5th century could not have imagined when they first settled along this enchanted lagoon that their savior, the sea, could become their worst enemy.

Nowhere are the problems more obvious - the fragile lagoon against the background of chimneys spewing greenhouse gases on the mainland. It is not just a problem of industry lowering the water table that is causing Venice to sink. Rising sea levels worldwide will also have to be accounted for. Besides physical barriers to close the lagoon to floods, engineers here are seeking ways to help nature itself regenerate land. More >>>