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Italy declares a state of emergency as effects of climate change reach a high

Italy, home to beautiful vineyards and history, was a country that sleekly dodged having its name in World News headlines. However, as time continues to pass, Italy seems to be getting more and more affected by climate change. 

On Monday, Italy declared an emergency for lands bordering the Po and the water basins of the eastern Alps. The Italian government addressed the state of emergency in an attempt to calm the chaos by telling the public that its decision gives officials the authority to act quickly and without delay if they see fit, including ordering water rationing for homes and businesses.

In addition, came five other states of emergency announcements in Italy’s northern regions. The areas include Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto, and allocated an initial 36.5 million euros ($38 million) in funding to assist in addressing the water crisis in those areas.

Climate change seems to lock in on central Italy, so its presence is felt deeply, especially near the Po. The Po flows through the affluent north of Italy, acting as the country’s longest river. However, as climate change erupts globally, the Po was said to have dried up in several places. Making matters worse are claims from farmers saying the flow is so feeble that seawater is creeping inland and destroying crops. 

drying Po River By: Luigi Strano via Fickr

As Italy attempts to tackle the foreseen future of ruined crops and extreme drought, talks of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi appointing a commissioner to coordinate the drought response are circulating.

Italy continues to bake in a summer heatwave, as attention has been focused on the impact of drought on crops in the fertile Po Valley. Giovanni Baccolo, an environmental scientist and glaciologist at Milan-Bicocca University, noted a lack of snow and a ferociously hot start to summer, saying, “This summer 2022 risks being the perfect storm for glaciers,”

Alongside drying rivers lie avalanches in Italy’s eastern Italian Alps. Rising temperatures brought on by climate change have seemed to loosen what was long thought to be dormant, fossilized sheets of ice, causing them to become even more unstable and hazardous. 

Last Sunday, At least seven individuals died in an avalanche close to Punta Rocca, on the route usually used by hikers and climbers to reach the summit, called the Marmolada. The Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites, a group of mountains in the eastern Italian Alps that crosses Trento and Veneto. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the disaster was linked to changes in climate.

Image of Marmolada, Image by Thomas Luong Bavington via Flickr

Rescue efforts are still scouring for survivors as thirteen people remain missing. However, due to fear of an unstable peak, rescuers have been using drones and helicopters to look for victims or locate them through their cellphone signals. 

As hope dwindles on finding survivors 36 hours after the incident,  teams reported finding either human remains or climbing gear at three or four sites on Tuesday. Seven of the thirteen missing people were seen, as reported by the ANSA news agency on Tuesday. 

Surprisingly, an Italian who was unaccounted for had been receiving treatment for his injuries from the avalanche in a hospital in the town of Treviso, near Venice, since the accident on Sunday.

As Italy tries combatting climate change, it will continue to move in the direction of progress. With water rationing in full force, Italians are being cornered. However, as restrictions tighten with rising temperatures, it is evident to acknowledge the Italian government’s guarantee of doing everything they can with what they have.



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