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  • Rebecca Ann Hughes

Covid-19 is a Chance to Rethink Venice


The Grand Canal in Venice — normally heaving with water-buses, service boats, gondolas, and water taxis — is calm. In a few areas of the city, once-murky canals have cleared enough to reveal shoals of fish and scuttling crabs in their depths. The extraordinary change has come as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, which has halted cruise ships from docking in the port, suspended or reduced vaporetto (water-bus) services, and cut the number of taxis and other motorboats traveling the canals.

Before the pandemic, Venetians dealt with high levels of air pollution — from motorboats with unregulated, outdated engines, and cruise ships whose fuel can contain up to 3,500 times as much sulfur as the diesel used in road vehicles.

Under lockdown — which started late February — these emissions have been slashed. European Space Agency satellites that record emissions from cars, cruise ships, and industrial activities have shown remarkable reductions in air pollution in northern Italy since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

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