15 April 2011

City on the Lagoon

We hopped on the train after the Book Fair to Venice.
Most of the people got off the train at stazione di Venezia Mestre and there were only four of us in the car. Suddenly, we could see the sea from both sides of the car. We went into the lagoon.

I was impressed by the idea of settling on a marsh and building a whole city on millions of wood poles. There are certainly many people living on a former marsh in the world, even some familiar places for me: here in East Anglia and also in Bangkok! But these places were reclaimed by drainage building canals. I also know that some people are living in floating houses on lakes like the one I stayed in Klong Ya national park in Thailand last spring. But these are just some houses, not the entire city like Venice.
If the sea level rises in the future and even more places become half sank in the sea, we may all have to build a city like Venice...

Since it is just one month after the disaster in Japan, I can't help thinking about earthquakes and Tsunami. Venice is still there soundly because earthquakes seldom happen there and it faces the Adriatic Sea in the Mediterranean Sea. Tsunami is an acute disaster while acqua alta or high tide is more chronic.

Building the inflatable barriers at the canal gate would work better and be more reliable for acqua alta than building breakwaters for Tsunami. However, those constructions are always based on an estimate. It may be about the height of the water coming in or the effect to the current, environment. But when it comes to nature, we cannot calculate everything, so such estimates very often turn out to be wrong. And it seems that the more we try to overcome or resist the nature with hardware, the bigger the damage caused by a hundred-year or a thousand-year event.

If I could be a travel journalist, my first topic would be "Living on the water".

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