Alexandria is sinking

Some cities have a great future behind them and are now facing oblivience. Venice is sinking (see here) and so is Alexandria.
Of course, some blame the rising sea levels as a result of global warming, but, just like Venice, most of its peril is man made.

Alexandria dates back to 331 B.C, when Alexander the Great chose to build a city surrounded by two bodies of water: the Mediterranean Sea in the north to make it a trade center, and Lake Mariout to the south, where he directed the Greek architect Dinocrat to design “Alexander’s Harbor.”

But the location was a barren area. So the engineers needed to establish a complex, intelligent system to supply water from the Nile through canals, and then distribute water through a branched pipeline system and store it in underground tanks.

Parts of this old pipeline system still exist but are not functioning, as the new city is built on the top of the many ancient cities that came ahead of it. And this is in itself another cause of subsidence.

Every year the city sinks by more than three millimetres, undermined by dams on the Nile that hold back the river silt that once consolidated its soil, and the problem is exacerbated by gas extraction offshore. Add to that the unchecked building of ever larger (and thus heavier) constructions that force out groundwater.

Even by the United Nations' best case scenario, a third of the city will be underwater or uninhabitable by 2050, with 1.5 million of its six million people forced to flee their homes. Already hundreds of Alexandrians have had to abandon their apartments weakened by flooding in 2015 and again in 2020.

Even without a possible rise in seal levels, a third of the highly productive agricultural land in the Nile Delta could be inundated by salt water.
Across the Delta, the sea has already advanced inland more than three kilometres since the 1960s, swallowing up Rosetta's iconic 19th-century lighthouse in the 1980s.

All this is happening as Alexandria's population is exploding, with nearly two million more people arriving in the last decade, while investment in infrastructure, as elsewhere in Egypt, has lagged. The city's governor, Mohamed al-Sharif, weakly said that the crumbling drainage system for its roads was built to absorb one million cubic metres of rain. But with the more violent storms that have come with climate change, "today we can get 18 million cubic metres falling in a single day".

"Yes, the threat exists and we don't deny it, but we're launching projects to attenuate it," the head of the authority protecting Egypt's coastline Abdel Qader said. A huge belt of reeds is being planted along 69 kilometres of coastline. "Sand sticks around them and together they form a natural barrier," he said.

It all seems a bit too little too late. As the Chinese philosopher and politician Confucius (ca. 551-ca. 479 BC) once said: "A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.”

Remember that the lost tomb of Alexander the Great must be located somewhere in Alexandria, and that the tomb of Cleopatra (and Mark Anthony) is possibly also nearby in Taposiris Magna. They could be lost forever.

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