I was worried this book would be a real downer, but I found myself incredibly inspired and hopeful (and trying to figure out a way to move my family back to the north coast of California (I haven't had a book make me so homesick in quite a long time!)). Rosanna Xia is an environmental journalist, and her writing is engaging and thoughtful. The stories of each community she highlights gives you hope that climate adaptation is possible, and that the fluctuating nature of the coast, as well as impending sea-level rise, are things we need to work with, not against. Recommended By Lesley A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From a celebrated environmental journalist, the riveting exploration of sea level rise along the West Coast through human stories and ecological dramas.
"Viscerally urgent, thoroughly reported, and compellingly written--a must-read for our uncertain times." — Ed Yong, author of An Immense World
Along California's 1,200-mile coastline, the overheated Pacific Ocean is rising and pressing in, imperiling both wildlife and the maritime towns and cities that 27 million people call home. In California Against the Sea, Los Angeles Times coastal reporter Rosanna Xia asks: As climate chaos threatens the places we love so fiercely, will we finally grasp our collective capacity for change?
Xia, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, investigates the impacts of engineered landscapes, the market pressures of development, and the ecological activism and political scrimmages that have carved our contemporary coastline — and foretell even greater changes to our shores. From the beaches of the Mexican border up to the sheer-cliffed North Coast, the voices of Indigenous leaders, community activists, small-town mayors, urban engineers, and tenacious environmental scientists commingle. Together, they chronicle the challenges and urgency of forging a climate-wise future. Xia's investigation takes us to Imperial Beach, Los Angeles, Pacifica, Marin City, San Francisco, and beyond, weighing the rivaling arguments, agreements, compromises, and visions governing the State of California's commitment to a coast for all. Through graceful reportage, she charts how the decisions we make today will determine where we go tomorrow: headlong into natural disaster, or toward an equitable refashioning of coastal stewardship.
"An unsparing look at California's contentious battle to cope with a changing climate." Publishers Weekly
"A beautifully written, highly relevant book about not just our relationship with and how we think about the natural world, but also how we relate to each other." Book Riot
"Xia's prophetic and perceptive book reveals a California coastline denied by centuries of settlers more intent on dreaming than facing the unsteady reality of the living ocean's edge. California Against the Sea is the invitation we need today to enter a future where we learn to work with nature instead of against it. Xia's message should be heeded everywhere ocean meets land." Meera Subramanian author of A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka
"Fans of Xia's work for the L.A. Times will recognize her virtuosic blend of propulsive boots-on-the-ground storytelling, explanatory reporting, and genuine curiosity and love for place. A profound and timely exploration of humanity's various and shifting relationships to coastlines and the forces that shape them by one of the great environmental reporters working today." Lisa Wells, author of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World
About the Author
Rosanna Xia is an environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times, where she specializes in stories about the coast and ocean. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020 for explanatory reporting, and her work has been anthologized in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series.