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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T his fatal F all, a landscape made of des olation brings together California and Italy. The wind that fed fires in California. Fires that turned 62.000 hectares of land into dust and ashes; killed 85 people and destroyed 14.000 homes; fires because of which many people are missing and many more have been made homeless or displaced. 528 commercial structures and more than 4.000 building have been destroyed by what is considered the most destructive fire in the history of Northern California. That wind, the wind that fed the fires in California is not that different from the violence of wind and water that obliterated entire forests in the North of Italy. Hit by guts of wind that reached 190 km an hour (about 120 miles), the centuries old trees of Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli's valleys fell to the ground like toothpicks. 40% of Belluno province's woodland has been compromised. In Val di Fiemme and Lagorai, 1.5 million cube meters of wood hit the ground. New trees will be planted and will grow, but it will take a century before they reach the size of those felled. No one had seen such strong winds for at least 40 years, but who knows the mountains said "it came from the South," and that's not the direction such intense winds come from. It was absolutely out of the ordinary, as it's usually northern winds blowing strong on the Dolomites. We were amazed by how hundreds of hectares of forest could be cancelled in a matter of minutes. By how quickly small creeks, dried up for decades, could overflow: a violent downpour of rain is sufficient to fill them up and turn them into an uncontrollable wave of mud that kills, floods, destroys. We saw it in Sicily, in the Matera area, in Liguria and all along the path of our majestic Po. We were surprised by how easily sea waves could swell, riding over breakers and wiping away marinas and promenades, crumpling yachts and swallowing up whole coastal roads. We were stupefied by how easily tides rise unbridled, flooding even Saint Mark's Basilica: 90 centimeters (almost 3 feet) of water which returned to its bed only 16 hours later, aging this most precious, centuries-old church covered in mosaics and gold of at least 20 years. After a seven days truce, bad weather hit Italy again with unusual violence, while the first snow fell on the Apennines: roads collapsed under the mud in Lazio and Campania, tornadoes devastated Calabria, There is an Italy in danger of succumbing to climate change From the director hail and vortexes Apulia. But also California has been victim to extreme phenomena: the first 9 months of 2018 have been among the 4 hottest in the history of the State; last Summer has been the hottest in history and 2/3 of the territory are parched and dry, because of 360 weeks of drought (US Drought Monitor). They are the terrible, albeit always fascinating, forces of Nature, able at any time and in any place to violently and suddenly react against us, especially when their underlying balance is compromised. Denying how the human hand and neglect create monsters would be useless. And useless is especially denying the evidence of climate change. It's not normal that Italy, this last October, had Summer temperatures, because this means drought and reduction of our Alpine glaciers. They are 30% smaller: 180 disappeared, and since the 1960s we lost an iced area as large as Lake Como. But without snow and perennial ice, rock walls are at risk of falling, geo-diversity and bio- diversity are reduced, hydric resources diminish. The Alps have always been Europe's Tower of Water because, for centuries during the Spring, they have guaranteed 40% of the continent's fresh water supply. But the disappearance of perennial ice under 2000 meters of altitude has been so dramatic and quick that last year Italy and Switzerland had to redraw their own borders. In the meanwhile, sea levels and temperatures rise, with tropical species coming to colonize the Mediterranean. Our shores, usually peaceful and where we are very much used to swimming in safety, have been hit by "foreign," at times dangerous, jellyfish, by toxic seaweed brought by water's higher temperature, by tropical fish dominating local species and proliferating, because there are no natural predators. While Italy signed, on the 23rd of November along other 15 European countries, a declaration aiming at finding a swift solution to the global climate crisis, in the US 300 scientists affiliated to 13 federal institutions warned climate change will have also economic consequences: they will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and losses could be higher than 10% of America's GDP, twice as much those we had during the 2008 Great Recession. And what would we lose in Italy? Money aside, a piece of data should suffice to give us all an idea of how much Belpaese is at risk: Italy has the largest number of UNESCO sites in danger: Naples, Vicenza, Ferrara, Ravenna, Cinque Terre, Genova, Pisa, Pompeii, Siracusa, the Costiera Amalfitana, Paestum, Val di Noto could all be erased from Earth by floods, coastal erosion or sea water rising. And let's not forget Venice, that tops this unfortunate list: its unique beauty could be submerged by the sea. Let's think about it. Because of climate change, Italy's millennial treasures are at risk of not reaching the end of this century. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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