Not an isolated event
Italy, like the rest of the Mediterranean basin, falls into what scientists call “climate change hotspots” — areas of the planet that suffer the effects of the climate crisis with greater intensity and with consequent impact on natural and human systems.
Data provided by the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) in 2021 confirm this by showing that 94% of Italian municipalities are at risk of landslides and floods.
The rain is unable to penetrate the soil.
A study by the Legambiente Observatory revealed that in just 10 years, the annual number of floods from heavy rains has increased from 10 in 2012 to 150 in 2022. A chronic state of drought that makes the ground impermeable exacerbates the effects of rainfall. The rain is unable to penetrate the soil — the rain floods the cities but can’t reach the aquifers, which is exactly what we want to avoid.
An Italian fire truck lies in a ditch near Castel Bolognese, Italy, following heavy floods.
Oliver Weiken/DPA via ZUMA
As if all this were not enough, there is the additional factor of human nature, adding to this perfect storm. I am talking about the phenomenon of excessive construction that causes roads to turn into torrents, dragging along everything they encounter in their path.
In a country such as Italy, which is on the verge of a demographic crisis, every day in 2021 an average of 19 hectares per day were being cemented over, at a rate of two square meters per second. Inhabitants are decreasing but buildings are multiplying. These buildings do not have the slightest, rational reason to exist. Yet it is made possible by the fact that Italy still lacks a law to curb land consumption, despite the fact that there have been many proposals on the issue for more than a decade.
The environmental crisis has reached the stage of irreversibility.
The environmental crisis has reached the stage of irreversibility and is manifesting itself in all its complexity and interconnectedness between natural, economic and social systems.
There is no more time to think, or worse yet, bury our heads in the sand as the political class does. Action must be taken and adaptation strategies developed so that the conditions are in place for the human species to continue living on the planet (or the more pessimistic would say, to just survive).
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