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Brown University scientist helps pen ‘alarming’ UN climate change report

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Brown University professor is among a group of leading scientists who recently published a sobering report about the epic toll climate change is likely to take on the planet over the next three decades.

Baylor Fox-Kemper helped pen the report published by the United Nations that focused on Earth’s warming climate that’s expected to fuel sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

“By about 2050, we expect to see about a foot of sea-level rise and then under very low emissions, we might see another foot by the end of the century,” Fox-Kemper said Tuesday. “Under very high emissions, we might see two to three feet.”

For the Brown University scientist, the research hits close to home. Fox-Kemper is a Rhode Island native and he’s worried about how the rising sea levels will affect his home state.

“There were parts of this report that were frankly very alarming and saddening to work through,” Fox-Kemper added.

Rhode Island is only about 40 miles wide and 50 miles long, but the state has more than 400 miles of coastline in large part because of Narragansett Bay. The geography of the state makes it particularly susceptible to the threat of sea-level rise.

“We will either have to harden the shore line which probably would mean we would lose beaches,” Fox-Kemper said, referencing the need for seawalls, bulkheads and other erosion defensive strategies.

“We might even have to consider a retreat from the shoreline,” he added.

Fox-Kemper’s contributed research, compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that the warming temperatures will also result in more frequent extreme weather events, such as flooding.

The report is publicly available and designed for policymakers who have the power to make changes that might help mitigate the worsening effects of climate change. Fox-Kemper also said consumers could play their part and make individual impacts through the power of their purchases.

“It’s a good thing for you to ask your electric company, to ask your car dealer, whether they would have a better option for you that might be a better environmental choice,” he said.

Sarah Guernelli ( is an investigative reporter and producer for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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