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By Georgia Sparling | Jun 13, 2016

MARION — Atmospheric scientist Dr. Jennifer Francis and public policy professor Dr. Chad McGuire told Marion residents gathered at the Beverly Yacht Club on Monday night that climate change is here and it’s something the town needs to prepare for.

The dual lecture was co-sponsored by the Marion Institute, the yacht club, Sippican Lands Trust and Marion Planning Board and is the first in what will likely become a series of talks. Francis, a professor at Rutgers University and a Marion resident, said sea levels are rising as the earth gets warmer and approaches carbon dioxide levels not seen in three million years.

“The last couple of decades, we’re seeing a big acceleration in the pace of rising seas,” she said. “This is the data, it’s not a model.”

She showed graphics of Greenland’s ice sheet and said 97 percent of it experienced some melting in 2012, which is indicative of larger problems across the world.

“Most of the world’s glaciers are melting,” said Francis, which could cause sea levels to rise several feet and result in more coastal flooding.

McGuire, the chair of UMass Dartmouth’s Public Policy Department, said residents should look at the information they have now and try to plan for the best and worst case scenarios.

While category 3 and 4 hurricanes used to be once every 100 years, he wagered that estimation would increase to once a decade. He said the rising seas will lead to more flooding inland and erosion of coastal property. Plus, McGuire said the federal government wouldn’t always be there to bail out homeowners.

“The federal government is gonna get out of the game of flood insurance,” he said.

With all these things coming down the pipeline, McGuire said residents need to be realistic.

“We have rosy colored lenses when we think about the future,” he said, and they need to come off.

McGuire said that’s where planning comes in, for the town and residents, using realistic expectations.

“Plan for the worst and plan for the best,” he said.

ORCTV will air the lectures soon.

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