1. Scientists now say they’re 95% sure humans are causing global climate change – but for the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, the debate was settled long ago. The powerful agency that polices Rhode Island’s 420 miles of coastline is planning for 3 to 5 feet of sea level rise by 2100 – enough to put Waterplace Park in Providence and plenty of other familiar spots underwater. CRMC Executive Director Grover Fugate said on this week’s Newsmakers that there are three ways to deal with climate change: adapt, mitigate or suffer. Suffering is obvious – do nothing and take what comes. Mitigation is going to require major changes in national and even global policy. That leaves adaptation as the most feasible option for Rhode Island. “Adaptation is … [with] storms like coastal hurricanes, looking at ways that we can build structures better so that they survive the storm,” Fugate said. “In adaptation for sea-level rise, it means looking at, OK, we expect 3 to 5 feet of sea-level rise in Wickford; how do we start to plan to make sure that Wickford survives that long-term consequence? Is it raising properties up? Those kinds of things.” Check out last year’s report from the R.I. Climate Change Commission for more on the local impact.
2. West Greenwich is so hot right now, if you believe the new population projections released this week. The town is expected to have 51% more residents by 2040, increasing its population from 6,135 to 9,234. Runner-up Richmond will grow 41% to 10,855, while third-place South Kingstown will jump 26% to 38,573 – the largest increase in sheer numbers for any community except Providence. But not everyone’s going to grow: 12 of Rhode Island’s 39 municipalities are expected to shed people over the next three decades. Middletown and Newport are set to lose nearly one in four of their residents by 2040, and the populations of cash-strapped East Providence, Woonsocket, Pawtucket and West Warwick are all expected to shrink, too. (That’s another good reason to pre-fund pension benefits: as Detroit’s example showed, there may be fewer taxpayers to pay them when the bill comes due.)