Flooding in Venice: an avoidable disaster?
Venice has been flooded three times since last week. Seventy percent of the city is now under water. Commentators are annoyed that the huge public investments in preventive measures have proved ineffective against the disaster and call for a reawakening of the enterprising spirit that prevailed in the city during the Renaissance.
Clientelism is the real evil
Italy is sinking into the swamp of clientelism, complains political scientist Alberto Mingardi in La Stampa:
“The floods in Venice, the floods in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, the Puster Valley, cut off from the rest of world. The sense of being at the mercy of the forces of nature is unbearable, especially in a country where public spending accounts for half of the gross domestic product: What good is a state that costs so much if it doesn't even protect us from 'extreme' events like these? ... The difficulties of these days expose an open secret: Italian budgets are being misspent. They bear the stamp of clientelism, which has shaped political decisions for decades.”
The Venetian spirit must be revived
Venice's glorious history stands in stark contrast to its current situation, Kathimerini observes:
“Venice was founded in 697 in a swamp so that the inhabitants could escape their enemies. It held its ground there, became rich and, at the highpoint of its history, dominated trade between Europe and Asia. ... If we compare the history of Venice with its present destiny, we can only wonder why the old spirit is not used to save the city. A major flood protection project that was supposed to have been completed in 2011 is mired in scandal and it's unclear when it will be ready and whether it will be enough to save the city.”
Ignoring climate change
Italy is still acting as if there were no climate crisis, La Repubblica rails:
“In view of what's happening in Venice, not even the most adamant deniers of climate change can go on acting as if they don't see its effects. ... For years the European Union has been inviting member countries to pass 'national climate adaptation plans'. ... According to these plans, 20 percent of the required amount of money is to be made available from EU funds and earmarked to help protect the most endangered areas. ... A small detail: almost every country has developed a 'climate adaptation plan' except Italy, as far as we know. Yet just such a plan would be needed to prevent Italy from being trapped in a constant state of emergency.”
Flood protection sinks in swamp of corruption
Work on the "Mose" project, a flood barrier which costs billions, was put off for decades and still isn't complete, Corriere della Sera criticises:
“The disastrous flood of 1966 sparked outrage across the world. The city of Venice, the region of Veneto and Italy as a whole were told to find a solution. 'We have no time to lose', everyone said. Then the water receded, the mud dried up, the restaurant tables were put back in place and the sun even came out again. ... The 'very urgent' work became 'urgent', and then 'necessary', and then it was completely watered down in endless debates. ... They thought about it for almost twenty years before they decided to actually build Mose. ... Then came three decades and more, marked by controversies, wastefulness, bribes, delays, judicial investigations, handcuffs, resignations, and police commissioners.”