The clock's ticking on the battle to save Venice

A man walks on the flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice on December 3, 2010. Tourists in Venice awoke to warning sirens on Friday as the "acqua alta" (high water) reached the highest level this year, leaving 55 percent of the city under water. Shortly before dawn, sirens rang out across the city to warn inhabitants that the water level had risen above 1.10 meters (3.6 feet). Later in the morning, the level had risen to 1.40 meters above sea level. AFP PHOTO / MARCO SABADIN (Photo credit should read Marco Sabadin/AFP/Getty Images)
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A man walks on the flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice.
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In this age of seemingly endless disagreements, here's one point that seems beyond disputation: Venice is doomed to sink into the Adriatic. In the last 100 years, the city has lost 23 centimeters of land (which is quite the big deal.)

But a myriad of other more near-term challenges loom: Venice faces rising tides that each year bring more and more floods; the degradation of beaches and shore areas; and gradual pollution of its marine environment. That's why Italy's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, in conjunction with the Venice Water Authority and a group of local engineering firms have broken ground on a giant infrastructure project known as Mose that, it is hoped, will keep the rising waters at bay and begin the process of permanently protecting Venice. CNET's Daniel Terdiman was given a rare up-close tour of the work and spoke with engineers about the challenges they face. You can read his report here.