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Op-Comic: Seeing the watery future of climate change up close in Venice

An illustrated comic panel showing tourists in Venice, Italy. People stand on a bridge over a gondolier.
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Countless writers have been inspired by the ageless glory of Venice.
As I wandered the alleys of Venice last month, Henry James' observations from over 140 years ago were still reflected.
Churches James visited are still "rich in pictures" that "suffer in the darkness." They feel different in our climate crisis.
St. Mark's Basilica still retains the "fantastic gloom" that James described, but now has a visible water mark from 2019.
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And though Venice has been a center of tourism for centuries, the carbon footprint of my plane ticket is harder to stomach.
James also wrote: "It would be a sad day indeed when there should be something new to say." Perhaps that day is here.
Now Venice is changing to meet the challenge. In 2020 the city activated sea walls that rise to respond to high tides.
Large cruise ships are banned from the lagoon. The city is considering injecting its foundation with seawater or CO2.
When people visit this seemingly ageless city of the past, they will actually experience the future — whatever that may be.

Kevin C. Pyle is an illustrator and the author of several graphic novels and nonfiction books, including “Migrant: Stories of Hope and Resilience.”

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