We don't know how natural processes will affect our planet Earth for hundreds of years. Still, we are almost sure of what the near future holds for several cities whose fate could be compared to a death row inmate waiting in a cell for execution.
Places like Venice, Italy, and Bangkok, Thailand, are ringing a bell, and they are unlikely to be helped in their salvation by technological development or tourist traffic.
How many generations will still have the opportunity to see with their own eyes the famous Italian Venice? This question has been on the minds of tourists, ecologists, scientists, and, above all, citizens of this city for a long time.
The answer appears hugely pessimistic. A scientific study from March 2017 proves that the rise in sea levels due to climate change could definitively submerge the city as early as 2100. The study was carried out by a team of Italian and French geophysicists and volcanologists. It was published in the scientific journal "Quaternary International," funded by the national agency ENEA. According to them, the water level of the Mediterranean Sea could rise by 140 centimetres by the year 2100.
This number is incredible, especially when we consider that in the last thousand years, the water level of this sea has risen by only 30 centimetres. The critical question now is whether Venice has any chance of being saved. And yes, hopes may be realized. Still, the rate at which the water level is rising may change, or people may come up with their own way of subbing nature and thus saving the city from being submerged.
The road to fame
The history of one of the most romantic cities on the planet began as early as the Migration of Peoples when the Venetian tribe settled in the area. From a simple settlement with primitive grass, huts grew a beautiful, magnificent city that for years had the status of a legendary city, a naval power with a strong army and swift diplomacy. Above all, this unique location contributed to its development over time.
A crisis occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries, at which time many great artists and philosophers began to be brought to the area to further elevate Venice's importance. However, after a brief period of growth, there could only be stagnation, caused not only by the shift of trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean but also by the subsequent occupation by Napoleon's troops, which resulted in many years spent under Habsburg rule.
This lasted until 1886, when the city was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, later the Republic. This allowed Venice to become a free city with a fascinating history and architecture, making it constantly popular with tourists.
There is probably no one in the world who has not heard of the tragic fate of Roman Pompeii in 79 AD. They were destroyed by the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius. The tragedy was forever remembered as one of the most dangerous events of antiquity.
Today, we are reminded of the valuable archaeological discoveries in the form of ruins of buildings or preserved bodies of some of the 25,000 unfortunates who did not manage to escape the volcanic eruption.
Many years have passed since that tragic event, but the volcano remains steadily active, and there is still the threat of an eruption. The crucial question is, will Naples repeat the fate of Pompeii? Scientists fear this, and Vesuvius has been under constant surveillance since the 19th century.
Since the first survey in 1842, scrutiny has increased significantly. Today, a dense network of devices watches over the citizens to measure earth movement, temperature, the chemical composition of the vapours, and many other properties.
A sign of 21st-century protection is also the constant monitoring of the volcano from space, thanks to satellites through which the shape of the volcano is observed. Just before an eruption, there is often a change in the inclination of the slope, and an infrared camera makes it possible to read temperature changes.
A volcano that does not go out
The catastrophe of the Pompeii volcano reminded him about thirty times. The last eruption of Vesuvius occurred in April 1944. Then the eruption lasted eleven days, during which time the crater several times was spewed lava and was ejected vast amounts of scoria and ash. Despite the evacuation, there were 26 casualties, and over 12,000 people were left homeless.
Sadly, scientists agree that this was not the last time there would be the destruction of surrounding towns due to the eruption of Vesuvius. Many scientists believe that it is evident that the volcano will erupt again. They explain their certainty that geological processes do not stop overnight and interact over a long period.
In Italy, there is undoubtedly an evacuation plan for the more than 600,000 citizens who live in towns threatened by a volcanic eruption. But for the city of Naples itself, as opposed to its citizens, a major volcanic eruption would be a death sentence.
Bangkok, one of the fastest-growing metropolises globally, probably doesn't have a bright future either. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Everything that has been built up to now will be destroyed.
The low-lying city of Bangkok is only 30 kilometres north of the shore of the Gulf of Thailand, and experts believe that by 2050, the water level will have risen by as much as 29 centimetres. This is because the Thai metropolis is built on wetlands and is slowly sinking. According to climatologists, this causes frequent flooding, which is probably just a prelude to the total flooding of the city.
In addition, residents may be concerned that similar predictions are being made for the water level in the Chao Phraya River, which flows through the city. If no steps are taken to protect the city, in 50 years, most of Bangkok will be underwater - the darkest fears of Bangkok residents are confirmed by climatologist Anond Snidvongs, who is Thai.
Drawing water from natural sources comes at a price
The situation is also made worse because the land on which Bangkok was built is sinking lower and lower. This is partly due to the excessive extraction of water from underground sources for local residents and factories.
In the 1970s, the city's level dropped nearly 10 centimetres a year, but thanks to the government's immediate response by regulating the drawing of water from underground sources, the rate of decline has been significantly reduced. Climate scientists predict that the risk of flooding in Bangkok will quadruple by 2050, meaning that the city will be forced to fight for its existence.
One of the largest and most visited cities in the United States, San Francisco may also fear its existence after the great natural disaster of 1906. At that time, the city was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 on the Richter scale, it caused massive damage, and more than 3,000 people lost their lives.
Since then, there have been fears in the mind of every Californian that it could happen again. The cause of the anxiety in the area is one of the most dangerous geological phenomena on Earth: the San Andreas Fault. It covers the area from Cape Mendocino in the northwest to the Gulf of California in the southeast.
It extends probably under the waters of the Gulf of California northward, near San Francisco, and it turns to the ocean floor. The San Andreas Fault separates two lithosphere plates moving in opposite directions: the Pacific and North American plates.
Despite the alarming predictions of experts, according to which an identical scenario to that of 1906 may take place in the coming years, Americans have until recently been very passive in terms of safety and have often faced criticism for it. All measures against a possible disaster were limited to first aid packages containing food and drink for three days, a flashlight, a first aid kit, radio, whistle, and dust mask.
However, the situation has improved over the past four years. San Francisco authorities have spread awareness to the city's residents with multilingual warning flyers and have tested the resilience of buildings.
The city was made famous by the Gold Rush.
The most important part of the city's history began in 1847 when the United States of America conquered initially Mexican California and renamed the small village on Alcatraz Island from Yerba Buena to San Francisco. In a relatively small area, the town became an important centre in the mid-19th century when people swept in by the gold rush arrived. Suddenly the population grew from 1,000 to 25,000. The city began to grow, which was temporarily halted by a devastating earthquake in the early 20th century.
About 35,000 residents of Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, have legitimate concerns about rising water levels in all the world's oceans. The city is located at the mouth of the Gambia River into the Atlantic Ocean, and its coastline is heavily influenced by water. If the darkest scenario comes true and the ocean level rises by about a meter, the city will be underwater. In other words, the city is gradually disappearing under it.
The history of this agglomeration began in 1816 when the British established Banjul as a trading centre, also for the slave trade. The city was earlier named Bathurst after the Secretary of the British Colonization Office, Henry Bathurst.
The present name has been used since 1973. On July 22, 1994, a bloody coup took place in Banjul, in which President Dawda Jawar was overthrown and replaced by current President Yahya Jammeh. A memorial to this event is the 35-meter high entrance gate to the city - Arch 22. Together with the National Museum of The Gambia, Banjul State House, Courthouse, and two cathedrals form a set of significant tourist attractions.