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There’s this constant tension and back-and-forth between land and sea. This process has been going on for hundreds of thousands of millions of years. And the only thing that has changed in the last 200 or so years, 150 years, is that we settled the coastline and we decided to start imposing permanence onto what is inherently an impermanent space.
In the last few decades, California has been preoccupied with preparing for immediate disasters such as extended drought, wildfire, and earthquakes, thinking relatively little about the slow-moving threat upon its shores. Lulled by a century of no more than nine inches of sea level rise, California’s coastal communities now seem to be caught unprepared to adapt to the three and a half feet of inundation projected over the next 26 years.
In her new book “California Against the Sea: Visions for Our Vanishing Coastline,” Rosanna Xia explores California’s complex and hubristic relationship with its coast. From the Gold Rush to the passage of The California Coastal Act to today and beyond, Xia examines the ways in which the state will have to adapt physically, culturally, and psychologically to a shrinking coastline fueled by climate change.
Listen in as Ten Across founder Duke Reiter and Xia discuss her writing in the context of this month’s extreme coastal conditions, and explore her work as both a traditional beat reporter and an author writing with a larger narrative purpose and style.
Rosanna Xia is an environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times and author of California Against the Sea: Visions for Our Vanishing Coastline. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for explanatory reporting, and her work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology.