California Against the Sea: Visions for our Vanishing Coastline is the debut book by Los Angeles Times reporter Rosanna Xia. The book is based on Xia's explanatory piece about sea level rise along the California coast, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Xia 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.
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.
Christina Gerhardt is an environmental journalist and Associate Professor and Founder of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is the author of Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean, published by the University of California Press, named one of the “Best Popular Science Books of 2023” by the New Scientist.
Rosanna Xia & Christina Gerhardt photos courtesy of the authors.