12.9.2020 – man versus nature

man versus nature
acqua alta, time and tide
nature wins again

Gene Hackman in the role of Lex Luther in the movie Superman II, walks through the destruction of the offices of the Daily Planet caused by General Zod and crew when they burst through the walls and windows and he says to himself, “Even with all this accumulated knowledge, when will these dummies learn to use a DOOR KNOB?”

I read today about the city of Venice and its century old battle with the ocean tides.

Much like I am learning about now, if you build near an ocean it is a good idea to keep the ocean in mind.

Or as JRR Tolkien wrote in the Hobbit, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

Venice was built on worthless swampy tidal land with, so I was told, the idea that those hordes of Mongols or Visigoths or Viking or who ever else might be coming down the river would have little interest in sacking the place.

The problem with worthless swampy land is that it is worthless swampy land.

And being on the ocean, the water will come up and down twice a day.

In Venice it is called the acqua alta or high water.

Time and tide waits for no one or “And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.” as it is first found in recorded history back in 1225.

But that did not stop the Venetians.

The latest effort to stop the tide is a project named MOSE or MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico .

According to Wikipedia MOSE is part of the measures to improve the shallow lagoon environment are aimed at slowing degradation of the morphological structures caused by subsidence, eustatism, and erosion due to waves and wash.


I said the latest though it was designed back in 1984.

Venice is in Italy and Italy being Italy, things take a little bit longer.

Again according to Wikipedia, the project suffered from multiple delays, cost overruns, and scandals.

As they say, when in Rome.

MOSE is also a take of on the Italian for Moses and alludes to Moses and the Red Sea.

Again Wikipedia says, “Moses or “Mosè” in Italian, who is remembered for parting the Red Sea.”

And I always thought it was God who did the work but that is another story.

Back in 1984 the MOSE project was designed to close of the lagoons of Venice from the ocean and protect the city from high tide.

And as they say, so lucky for us that the Venetians invented blinds or it would have been curtains for all us.

The project got started.

Everyone got their share.

Everyone got their cut.

Everyone got to get their beaks wet a little.

And after 36 years MOSE was finished and ready to go.

Last week there was the first high tide of the season.

Downtown Venice was a lake.

Okay so it is usually a lake but this was a deeper lake and the kind of lake the MOSE was supposed to stop.

Four feet of water in St. Mark’s Church.

And I did say IN THE CHURCH.

It was deeper outside in St. Mark’s Square.

Seems that, yes, MOSE was ready.

But you see.

No one turned it on.

In the long struggle of mankind versus nature the score remains, Mankind ZERO, NATURE 1,325,211.

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