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CLIMATE CRISIS

Climate crisis: Italy records ‘five times’ more extreme weather events in ten years

The wave of severe storms currently hitting Italy has taken the number of extreme weather events this summer up to 1,642 - five times the number recorded a decade ago, records show.

Bad weather in Montpellier, France
Incidents including flash floods and lightning strikes are becoming more common in Italy, data shows. Pascal GUYOT / AFP

The figures were released by Italy’s farmers’ association Coldiretti on Thursday, based on data from the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) recording events including tornadoes, flash floods, sudden rainstorms (known as bombe d’acqua), giant hail and damaging lightning strikes.

“The long hot summer, characterized by drought, was interrupted several times by violent rainfall,” Coldiretti pointed out.

READ ALSO: ‘A code red’: Will Europeans change their habits after climate crisis ‘reality check’?

“This multiplication of extreme events has caused over six billion euros’ worth of damage to agriculture in 2022, 10 percent of the (value of) national production,” the farming association said.

“We are seeing the clear consequences of climate change, as exceptional weather events are now the norm in Italy too, with a tendency towards tropicalization manifesting as more frequent violent events, seasonal shifts, short, intense bouts of precipitation, the quick change from sunshine to bad weather, with significant changes in temperature that compromises crops.”

At least seven people were reported dead on Friday morning following flash floods in the central Marche region as the latest wave of bad weather swept the country.

Severe storms hit many central and northern regions on Friday morning, including Umbria, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, and Molise, with bad weather spreading south.

File photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Italy, along with much of the rest of mainland Europe, has suffered a series of heatwaves this summer that have fuelled forest fires and drained rivers.

The extreme conditions this summer caused a spike in heat-related deaths in Italy, and worsened the most severe drought the country had experienced in 70 years.

Average temperatures of between two and three degrees above the seasonal average were consistently recorded across the country between May and June, with spikes of up to 10 degrees in some areas.

The collapse of Italy’s country’s largest Alpine glacier in July also triggered an avalanche that killed 11 people.

“The year 2022 in terms of extreme climate events is code red,” said the head of Italian environmental group Legambiente, Stefano Ciafani, in an August report.

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PROTESTS

Climate activists throw paint at Milan’s La Scala ahead of opening night

Environmental activists hurled paint at the entrance of Milan's famed La Scala opera house on Wednesday in the latest a series of recent protests to focus attention on climate change.

Climate activists throw paint at Milan's La Scala ahead of opening night

The early morning protest came ahead of the gala opening of the new season on Wednesday night, with a scheduled performance of Russian-language opera ‘Boris Godunov’.

Five climate activists from the Last Generation (Ultima Generazione) protest group threw buckets of paint onto the facade of the building and inside the portico shortly after 7.30am, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Two people unfurled banners reading “Last Generation – No Gas and No Carbon”.

“We decided to stain La Scala with paint to ask the politicians who will attend the performance tonight to pull their heads out of the sand and intervene to save the population,” wrote Last Generation in a statement.

READ ALSO: Why are climate protesters glueing themselves to Italian artworks?

Police quickly arrived on the scene – where bright pink, electric blue and turquoise paint had splattered onto the sidewalk – and the activists were detained and taken away in police cars.

A team of cleaners from La Scala then began hosing off the building and the non-permanent paint appeared to have been entirely removed.

‘Last Generation’ activists outside La Scala on Wednesday. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

Last Generation said they were calling on Italy’s government to invest more in renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

“In order to avert the misery of its own people and safeguard people, homes and businesses, which are at risk from increasingly frequent floods and heatwaves, the government must act now,” it said, referring to last month’s landslide caused by torrential rains on the island of Ischia that killed 12 people.

Most recently, climate activists have targeted artworks inside museums throughout Europe in protests they say are designed not to damage the works but to focus attention on environmental disaster.

They have targeted masterpieces such as the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Johannes Vermeer at The Hague’s Mauritshuis museum, Klimt’s ‘Death and Life’ in Vienna’s Leopold Museum, and Van Gogh’s ‘The Sower’, displayed at Rome’s Palazzo Bonaparte, hurling soup or other food at the paintings behind glass.

Last month at an exhibit in Milan, they covered a car repainted by Andy Warhol with flour.

Police officers detain environmental activists after they threw paint at the facade of the La Scala theatre. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

La Scala’s opening night gala is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, President Sergio Mattarella and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In light of the war in Ukraine, the choice of “Boris Godunov” – an opera sung in Russian that tells the story of an autocratic ruler and his people – was controversial.

Ukraine’s consul in Milan had protested the choice, calling it a propaganda coup for Russia.

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