Episode 5, full transcript

Episode Five. On The Rocks.

WARREN: I love the ocean, don’t you? The beach. The waves. The sand. Growing up in Northern California, I loved to go to the ocean, but the water was too cold and we didn’t have wet suits in those days. When I was 13, I visited LA with my father and I discovered why so many people wanted to live here. Turns out I did, too. It took me years to get back. I found a place to live just a mile from the Venice Pier. But, you know, it’s not all sun and serenity around here any more. Our beaches are now the frontline in the battle against rising tides -- a major consequence of climate change worldwide.

But, beaches were always changing. The problem now? Well, they’re disappearing. 


WARREN: I’m Warren Olney. This is In Our Backyard. A six-part series about the local impacts of climate change in Southern California. 



Chris: The second I'm in that water, I'm just not thinking about anything else anymore. For me. And I can speak for my son, my good friends. Our minds or somewhere else. We're fully engulfed in that and, you know, liquid and we're waiting for this, you know, this magical wave to come. And we're always chasing that last best wave. So. We're hooked. You know, it’s a ritual.

WARREN: That’s Chris Iltis. He told me about growing up on the shores of Maryland, where he learned to surf—and to dream about finding a surfer’s paradise.

Chris: I’m gonna go way back here. When I was, was, I was just a young little surfer in middle school dreaming of doing this thing in the back of the surfing magazines was, was all these surf camps. And they were all located in San Clemente. San Clemente in the US was like the Shangri-La. It was the place you wanted to get to. It was it was where all the magazine photos, it was either taken in San Clemente or they were taken in, you know, Off the Wall or Pipeline, Hawaii. So you wanted to get there. I finally got there, kind of fulfilled my dream, and ended up opening a surf school. 

WARREN: Now the San Clemente Surf School began to attract celebrity clients, including a fitness guru. (She probably wouldn’t like it if we mentioned her name.)  Chris told me she was very demanding when she arrived with a crowd of her own customers. She  didn’t want to hear they’d showed up at a moment when conditions were wrong for safe lessons in surfing.

Chris: And they were from Los Angeles and they had producers with a hundred and twenty people. They had food vendors, they had everything. It was a pretty big production. And and we're kind of just going over like, here's how you, here's the safety part of it. Here's how you pop up. Here's, here's what you do if you encounter a wave. Just kind of all of our standard operating procedures that we're going to go through with the group. And I kind of just see -- kind of like, kind of like whatever. Let's like, “come on, guys, let's get fired up. Let's tone it up. Let's go out there.” And we’re like “whoa, wait, wait, wait.” We noticed there's about six to eight foot waves coming in and maybe ten foot honestly on the set. So it was becoming red flag conditions. 

WARREN: But the fitness guru wouldn’t take no for an answer. Chris’ own crew was trained for safety, but he consulted anyway with an Orange County lifeguard. 

Chris: And he was like Chris. “I don't know, man. Like maybe this first group. Let's just see how it goes.” And -- is just foaming at the mouth to take these people out. Like, let’s go. Kind of like interrupting me. Kind of like I’m nothing, she’s something and she goes with a group of people, our first batch of instructors goes with them. They just scratch over one of these monster waves that come in. They had mistimed the set. I'm with the next group going, “oh, my goodness, we are in so much trouble right now.” They got kind of pushed outside, further out in the ocean. We got slammed on the inside. And -- looked like she must have done eight flips in that water. We were just pulling people and getting them to the beach and that didn’t go well. And we had also what we called what the producer called a “wardrobe incident.” Just people strewn about with no bathing suits on, no tops on, no bottoms on. People were really, really upset. And there was a lot of, there was even some -- there's some crying. And when you're just trying to save somebody from drowning, you just don't really, you just “hey, we're just getting to the beach.” 

WARREN: He laughs about it now. But, the beach Chris had dreamed about for his surf school had really turned into a nightmare, reminded him of movies about a beach landing during World War II.

 Chris: And I'm just drawing the comparison to the Battle of Normandy because it was like no one would storm the water. Like they wanted to just charge in there and storm the water, and then dragging all the bodies out. And just kind of the casualties of everybody that was injured. It was like it was like a scene from a movie. I’m sure they had a couple photographers and videographer, actually drone footage, and I’m sure it was deleted because it looked -- it looked like, yeah, it was horrible.

WARREN: Bad enough for a lot of bruises and twisted ankles, and the outrage of a celebrity fitness guru. But, it didn’t necessarily have to be that way.

Chris: If we would have had a sandy beach that would have changed a lot. You can enter the water a lot more safely. That the entry and exit point can be where most injuries are going to occur. Because there's a little inshore hole and there's no sand and you're just going to get slammed with all these these kind of cobblestones. I mean, this is sort of like kind of summing it all up. You know, they would have had a much more pleasurable experience had they had some sand to -- even when they came in to kind of recover, they could have at least laid down on some nice sand and, and hung out. But that's not the case. 

WARREN: Now, you’ve been wondering and you’ve wanted to ask: why didn’t the beach in San Clemente have any sand? Well, that’s what’s happening at every beach, up and down the coast of California. Imagine beaches without sand. What would the Beach Boys have sung about if there weren’t any sand? 

Changing weather, increased temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are causing tides to rise faster and more frequently than ever before. And, get this. In the last 100 years, sea level rose 9 inches in California. In the next 100 years, it’s expected to rise 9 feet

Even before that, scientists say all the state’s beaches could shrink, changing what we think of an iconic piece of California. And, for  years now, they’ve called for large scale human interventions, like cutting down on emissions and more sea-specific solutions we’ll get to in a minute. But cities like San Clemente, they need sandy beaches now. They are desperate. So they resort to small scale interventions like replacing sand on an emergency basis.  

Chris: And they decided to do it in about this time of year, January, I believe, and it was right before one of the biggest swells that we've seen in a long time was going to hit San Clemente. And if you just would have asked, you know, 9 out of 10 people would have told you don't do it in the Winter. The swells are going to push that sand up and we're going to lose it immediately, especially right before this giant swell is about to hit. And they do it, and literally the next day the sand's gone. So they lost about seven hundred thousand dollars worth of sand in one fell swoop.

WARREN: That’s not quite correct. It took about two months for about $300,000 worth of sand to disappear. That was back in 2017. But the point still stands. San Clemente replenished sand at the wrong time of year and they wasted a lot of money. We reached out to the San Clemente officials, they didn’t respond to our questions. But they’re hardly alone when it comes to short-term solutions. Other beach towns take desperate measures that will just postpone a disaster and might even help bring it on. 

Sean: Not that many people know this, but many of our beaches in Southern California have been replenished with sand over a fairly long period of time. Our beaches are not natural in the sense that, that they're just exactly what would be there if we weren't there. 

WARREN: That’s Sean Hecht. He’s Co-Executive Director at UCLA’S Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. And he’s a lawyer by trade, but he has studied the history of California’s coastline.

Sean: In the days when it was Native Americans who were on the coastline in these particular areas, we had no buildings and that meant that the coastline could effectively migrate. And we didn't have to worry about the loss of a beach because the coastline itself would just change its form. But now we have hard infrastructure. It could be a parking lot, it could be a highway, it could be a building. And that hard infrastructure makes it impossible for the beach to change or migrate. It just disappears under conditions like sea level rise and storm surge. And so that poses a big challenge. If you want to maintain access for people and you need to have a parking lot or if you have a trail that you need maintained or if you just want to have a public sandy beach, local governments are going to have to make some hard choices about where to spend money to maintain the infrastructure. It takes work and money just to make something that looks like nature to many of us. 

WARREN: So the coastline naturally changes over time. Native Californians respected that, but we’ve tried to hold it in place. Here’s Rick Erkeneff -- he’s a volunteer officer with the Surfrider Foundation -- talking about Capistrano Beach, just up the coast from San Clemente in the City of Dana Point.

Rick: The county inherited this little postage stamp? It's curious. In 1979, there was some aerial photos that have been shot up and down our coastline and they do them probably every year now. And so there's, there's pictures of that just as a beach. Nothing there in 1979. So in the early 80s this park was envisioned and was built.

WARREN:  Along with the park came a parking lot. Infrastructure that could only stay stable for just so long, and compounding the problem -- rising tides due to climate change.  

Rick: A number of years ago, the parking lot started getting flooded. And when that water was retreating, it was eroding the sediments underneath the parking lot. So you're getting sidewalks buckling, parking places buckling. And so the county at the time was coming out of their bankruptcy. So they didn't have tens of millions of dollars for a beach parking lot. They still don't. So the only solution that they could come up with was go to the Coastal Commission, say, “hey, we're having this emergency. Can we put down these rocks just to protect them in the short-term till we come up with a plan?” So five years goes by, 10 years goes by. So we're like 15 years into an emergency that then didn't ever get planned or budgeted. 

WARREN: So then, last year on the Fourth of July, 2020 very high tides washed up over Capo Beach. And it was all too clear that infrastructure just wasn’t ready.

Beach and Emergency sounds 

Bystander: Tides going down.

Rick: No, high tides at nine.

Bystander: Screaming

Lifeguard: Get in your car and leave. The longer you take, the longer I have to stay out here. 

Rick: So you had a beach parking lot filled up with people and then it started flooding. And, there was ankle deep, knee deep water in some places. The ocean is obviously incredibly powerful and it can move a lot of sediment and a lot of earth very quickly. And so water going 15, 20 feet in the sky, boulders filling the parking lot. And the local sheriffs were just trying to evacuate people. And, it proved to be pretty devastating for that little slice in that little area. 

WARREN: Nobody got hurt that time, and officials implemented another of those small scale interventions that scientists say won’t be enough and could make things worse. They’ve been doing it for the past 15 years when the infrastructure has been increasingly threatened. Those projects are called “armoring.” 

Rick: Well, armoring comes in different forms. And what's interesting is we here in Southern California have different eras of armoring. So in the case of Capo Beach in the 50s and 60s, the engineering solution was to fill car chassis with cement and bury them. And that's what's under this parking lot in Capo Beach. And that's been revealed due to some erosion and storms. And actually I saw a guy harvesting parts off of those old cars. It was pretty interesting. 

WARREN: Those things are all up and down the Southern California coast. There's no question about it. And they've been there for a long time. What's wrong with them? Why is it a bad idea to build those things?

Rick: Well, every project you can look at there's going to be pluses and minuses. To me, ultimately, what those hard armored structures do is they, they damage the marine environment. So in areas, again like, in my backyard here in South Orange County, it disrupts the sediment flows. So any time wave energy hits those rocks, the energy will reflect -- or refract -- off of that and scour the sand away. And once we lose sand, we don't get it back. 

WARREN: The result is called “coastal squeeze.” Rising sea levels wash sand away from the beach then that solid, permanent wall of armor is between the beach and the shoreline. Then when the high tide comes in again, more sand gets washed away and the beach gets smaller. Not very helpful for maintaining a parking lot for the public.  

And don’t forget politics -- as inevitable as sea level rise. Emergency measures are driven in large part by private property owners along the beach, even though California’s Constitution says the beaches are public. When I talked with Sean Hecht, our lawyer from UCLA, I asked him: can’t government protect the public interest?

Sean: There are various ways in which government can regulate what we do with our property. And that's especially true on the coastline. And so what happens is the public interest and the interests of particular landowners collide. And we see that already people armor their property with seawalls and revetments and other hard devices. But that armoring, while it might protect one person's property, will have spillover effects on other properties and natural resources. 

WARREN: And, local officials get caught in the middle. 

Sean: And so there's a complicated relationship between local governments, which in many cases are trying to be responsive to their local homeowners’ very narrow interests. You can imagine that elected officials in general are not motivated to look over a 10 or 20 or 50 year time horizon. Their constituents want what they want now. One of the reasons that local governments also are sometimes reluctant to take action that is in the public interest if it has detrimental effects on even a single property owner. Is the possibility that that local government will be hit with a lawsuit by the property owner saying that they have violated their right to, to have compensation if their property is taken under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. And this constitutional takings doctrine has rarely played out in courts all the way to the end in these cases. But it has a real chilling effect on local governments. And so there's unfortunately, there's a real incentive toward short term thinking and local government in a lot of cases.

WARREN: So I asked Rick Erkeneff: what are the prospects for reaching consensus in Dana Point? 

Rick: Well, that's the million dollar question. You know, honestly, the county and the state have not done a really dynamic planning for a lot of areas of our coast. And so we're caught kind of like with the high tide and the big swell and the parking lot flooded and parking spaces falling into the ocean, and it's like, what are we going to do? So they just armor to kind of put a Band-Aid on the head wound. And we see that up and down the coast of just this hard armoring because of an emergency situation and that emergency situation turns into a permanent solution. And then those dominos start falling. 

WARREN: Now OC Parks, the agency in charge of Capo Beach, says there is a master plan for Capistrano Beach. Talks about it in bureaucratic language. It “acknowledges,” it “addresses” sea level rise, and promises, “the Plan will incorporate the best available science.” But that won’t be happening, at least for a while. Two public workshops were held two years ago, but then along came COVID and gathering input and alternatives was postponed ‘til this coming Fall. Meantime, the plans says “short-term measures are temporary” and “assessment” and “prioritization” still have to happen. 

Rick, along with others, have pointed out to local officials that short-term measures like armoring just don’t work. But, nevertheless, six days after that chaos on the Fourth of July, OC Parks requested another armoring installation at Capo Beach.  

Rick: Oh, great. Alright. Saving the best for last. Good morning Chair Padilla and Coastal Commissioners. My name is Rick Erkeneff, I’m a volunteer with the Surfrider South Orange County Chapter. 

WARREN: Now as we heard, Rick’s request went to the California Coastal Commission. It was created by the voters in 1972, specifically to protect the public’s constitutional right to the beaches. It gets sputtering denunciations in public forums, it’s often sued in the courts by property owners outraged when told they can’t do what they want to. But, here’s a surprise. In this case, the Coastal Commission went along with yet another short-term armoring of the beach in Capistrano.  

Donne: Well, first of all, it was temporary. It was based on an emergency order. 

WARREN: Now, that’s Donne Brownsey -- he’s Vice Chair of the California Coastal Commission -- when I asked for the rationale. 

Donne: Also, it was soft armoring. It was these bales versus cement walls. So we gave them some additional time. 

WARREN: But, Brownsey knows that armoring won’t work in the long-term and she’s all too well aware of what it can do in the meantime. 

Donne: The thing that we at the Coastal Commission really worry about is that people will, in a crisis, rush to armoring. And then what  happens is the ripple effect. You know, one of the things people don't think sometimes is flooding could be you can't get out of your neighborhood, right, from sea level rise. You're stuck. You're an island. You're, you know, you may have your house on stilts, but unless you have a canoe or a kayak, you aren't going to be able to get to the grocery store. Flooding could be disrupting the wastewater treatment plant. Flooding could be causing a disruption in the delivery of utility services. 

WARREN: How difficult is it going to be politically, do you think, to work all this out?

Donne: Very. Very politically difficult. I think, it’s, you know, It's a complicated situation. And sea level rise, by and large, is not as dramatic as wildfires. Right. Sea level rise is a slow moving crisis slash catastrophe. And so on some levels, human beings are basic when it comes to I don't see it, you know, is it really? But it is there. The scientists see it, the local communities see it. But having those conversations, those detailed conversations in Sacramento, we are having them. We need to do more. It's highly controversial. And I think the public investment that will be needed is, is really, I think, a number that probably nobody is prepared to to grapple with.

WARREN: You're talking about trillions?

Donne: Absolutely. I mean, when you add up critical critical infrastructure, when you add up all of the adaptation measures that communities are going to have to address, I think you could get to trillions...over the years. 

WARREN: Trillions of dollars with all that critical infrastructure. It’s all along the seashore. Railroad tracks, freeways, a nuclear power plant with radioactive waste. As we’ve heard, they’ll require large scale interventions now being talked about behind closed doors. But, let’s get back to saving the beaches for public enjoyment. Rick in Dana Point wants Capo Beach to follow Ventura. 

Rick: You know, Surfrider will identify a problem, but they’ll offer solution all based in science. And in Ventura, the county has a fairgrounds, and they had, much like Capo Beach, parking places falling into the ocean, the bike trail was there was all this hard armoring. But they planned a, gosh, about 15 years worth of planning and budgeting, got grant funding and they're doing it. They're moving back. They're doing managed retreat in phases. 

WARREN: Managed Retreat?

Rick: So they basically scoured back all that hard infrastructure, layered it underneath with cobbles and the things that would be underground from a natural flow of ocean interface with the land. Planted appropriate plants, native species that can take high tides and the like. And that project is working. It’s kind of like a gold standard or benchmark for creating a managed retreat, living shoreline. So that's what we're looking to try to do down here in Capo Beach. 

WARREN: Now, you just heard that phrase “managed retreat”. That’s an idea that makes private property owners lose their minds, especially when it comes to the Coastal Commission. It’s forced billionaires to move houses and condos back from clifftops and shorelines. But, managed retreat may be the best we can do to prepare for the future. And, we’d be adopting thousands of years of successful coastline living by Native Americans. 

Mona: The ocean has quite a personality. And, you know, sometimes it's in a good mood and sometimes not. So you'd be rather foolish to establish your home base right on the ocean. 


Mona: My name is Mona Olivas Tucker and I'm the tribal chair for yak tityu tityu yak tilhini Northern Chumash tribe of San Luis Obispo County and region. And our members are comprised of families who've lived in this one region for well over 10,000 years. And some of the families, many of the families have never lived anywhere else.

WARREN: And, those families lived very differently from the way we do now. Firstly, they stayed in one area for thousands of years, and they would never have settled right on the beach. 

Mona: We might have to relocate. There could have been earthquakes or mudslides. And we might have to move locations, perhaps because of different natural causes. So we, we didn't try to control nature, we didn't try to make nature do what we wanted it to do, which you see today with the concrete walls and various things like that. We understood that we were not going to win that battle.

WARREN: Now Mona’s tribe has an ocean advocate named Haylee Bautista. She adds this. 

Haylee: If we weren't adaptive to our area and I don't mean to laugh, but our home would be underwater right now. With the sea changing and stuff, we, you know, it covers some of our land and we have to be able to adjust and adapt to that and move in regards to with what's happening in the world. So we can't just stay in one spot. 


Haylee: Everything here is our homeland, right? We have a relationship with all of the parts, not just the coast. Everything works together in a cycle. However you take care of the lands that you live on that's more inland, you know, if you don't take care of that, all of that affects what is being taken into the ocean, which, you know, is kind of a circle of life. So if we take care of where you're at inland or on land, then the ocean will be healthy and we all have to work together to help it all thrive and keep living. 

WARREN: Those delicate patterns are changing rapidly, tipping the balance in the temperature of the air along the coast that made California so liveable to Mona and Haylee’s ancestors, and a paradise to the people who live there now. 

Mona: We always had a cool climate with summers typically being overcast, foggy. That was the time of the year for fog. If, if we were going to have any warm weather, it was going to be in the fall. But that's all changed and it's hot it seems like year round. And so we miss the fog. I miss the fog. People from other areas, they don't like the fog as much as we do because we're used to it. We're so close to the ocean that we consider the fog just part of, part of the place of where where we live. 

WARREN: Yeah, but there’s not so much anymore. And, without that cooling fog, air conditioners are now common in coastal communities. And that’s not the only change. One traditional food source in San Luis Obispo has been overharvested. 

Mona: Even today, some of what the beach had to offer to our ancestors thousands of years ago were resources that were utilized for me, even as a young adult. And they're not there anymore, you know, can't do those same things. Pismo Clam is one of them. We used to clam a lot for dinner, where when we had company come over. You know, if you had a lot of company made clam chowder, if he didn't have too many people there, then you would have fried clams. And supposedly the clam population is coming back. But it's -- I would be happily shocked if it ever came back to near the level it was many years ago.

WARREN: Now Pismo clams are starting to make a comeback, at least in a meager way, but other species aren’t so lucky. In fact, UNESCO says more than half of all  marine species may be on the brink of extinction due to climate change. So what’s being done to find new strategies for coastal management? 

Katie: So historically, on our coast in California, we've built seawalls, we've put in riprap, we've put these really hard structures and lost some of the natural buffers that would be provided by a tidal marsh, a wetlands. So there's kind of a spectrum of what you can implement. And I think, personally, the more natural you can get it, the more habitat benefits you're going to provide in addition to providing shoreline protection. 

WARREN: Now, that’s Katie Nichols with the Coastkeeper of Orange County, a group dedicated to water resources where people can drink, fish, and swim. You’ll hear a microphone malfunction, and we’re sorry for that. But we really wanted you to hear what she had to say.

Katie: So we have a restoration project in Upper Newport Bay. And Coastkeeper has been working on restoration of eelgrass for several years in the bay. And it's kind of like underwater gardening what we're doing.

WARREN: Katie’s colleague at Coastkeeper is Cristina Robinson. 

Cristina: The oyster beds that they're restoring with our native Olympia oyster species, they can be a buffer zone. I wish I had pictures of, like the oyster bed burritos. It’s kind of what they look like when they're all wrapped up in the coconut coir. But, so the goal is to have more native oysters recruiting there and that can build and build. So yeah, it can kind of help create like a buffer zone with the habitat as sea level is rising and help reduce that erosion. And then it's also simultaneously helping with creating habitat for a ton of juvenile species that can utilize it, kind of like a nursery habitat where they're protected. And then the oysters are also filtering all the pollutants out and improving that water quality, too. 

WARREN:  “Gardening” in the living shoreline. What a great idea. It slows the tides, naturally. It replenishes original species and reduces greenhouse gases. That’s sometimes called blue carbon. Here’s more on that from Katie. 

Katie: In addition to providing water quality benefits, some shoreline stabilization benefits, eelgrass is also a plant. So it's a photosynthetic organism and it's been shown to really store a lot of carbon in the sediments and in the plant itself. So it's just another reason to protect it. And then we bundle it back and can replant it. So it's really active work and we've got a lot of volunteers that can come on shore, you know, in different times to help us out with bundling the eelgrass. And so there's not only opportunities for for divers, but any kind of folk that want to get muddy can also come and help us out. 

WARREN: What are those critters you find?

Katie: We find a lot of invertebrates. So small sea slugs, small like isopods, like bivalves, shelled organisms like mussels and clams, scallops. One of my favorites is the Navanax, so that's a really colorful sea slug, we see a lot underwater. A lot of the ooey-gooey stuff that doesn't get us as much attention as the dolphins and whales, but are super important. 

WARREN: Is there any chance of doing this on a broader scale beyond Newport Bay? 

Katie: That's the hope. One of our recent grants is trying to answer that question. So how do we scale up these small scale restorations to provide more of like a regional strategy. How could some of these living shorelines work in other places? And what would the cost be and how would we implement it? So it's a little bit more research to kind of figure out scaling up because each bay, and estuary has its own criteria where this kind of work would make sense. But that's one of the goals is how do we broaden it. 

WARREN: Cristina and Katie want this to be a community project and they spread the message in schools.

Cristina: I was so pleased that it was about forty nine students that came. It was after school on Zoom. And, you know, we were talking about like plastic pollution, but also how that's related to climate change. And they were asking great questions. Like what can we do? How do we share this information with, like our family members and friends that aren't as well educated or aware of these issues? Especially when it gets really scientific, right, and there's a lot of detail. And then how we can kind of influence or try our best to demand change with government policy. And so we talked about advocating and voting with your dollars and speaking out to politicians, writing letters, making calls, signing petitions, and all the great things that people, you know, around the world are doing at various ages. Right? You can be any age to be part of the solution. So, yeah, our kids are definitely my, my hope for our future.

WARREN: Now the living shoreline is barely more than a promise at this point, but there is hope that it might be a major project for future generations. In the meantime, remember Chris Iltis, the surfing school owner we talked to at the outset of this episode? He came up with a rather grim, alternative vision -- beaches without sand and without enterprises like his.

Chris: If San Clemente doesn't do anything or really the city of Dana Point, the county of Orange, you know, Capo Beach, etc. If they don't do anything, we will eventually bow out. It's just not safe. Then what will happen is the next, the next guy will bow out. And the city of San Clemente, you have seventeen surf schools, seventeen back in the day when I was combing through the back of Surfer magazine. I think we're down to like three. It's a, it's a tough business. You would think it's a good, it's a great business in California. Everybody wants to surf and think of California surf, surf, surf. But without, without, without beach, you can't really do it. 

WARREN: And, Chris makes a really important leap from his own small business to the broader economic and cultural world that’s threatened now more than ever by sea level rise. If we don’t move away from armoring and sand replenishment and start investing in some of those large scale human interventions so many scientists have called for.

Chris: If you lose surfing in this area, you lose kind of that -- besides Hawaii, I think you lose that second real pivotal point of not just surfing culture, you lose the history of surfing. And it would send shockwaves through every other industry. It would connect to the skateboard industry, you connect to the surf industry, all the action sports industries. And then that would trickle into mainstream industries. Because if you can wipe out a sport and a culture in a town like this that is kind of like a lynch pin, it can be done with anything. Not just for surfers, but for everybody, I think it would send a big shock wave to...to the world, really.

WARREN: Chris Iltis has said it all, I couldn’t have said it better. Climate change is already with us, and we have to do more than we’re doing now before the beaches and all they mean to us just…disappear. 

Next week, our final episode, When Lightning Strikes...

In Our Backyard it’s an original series from Inside Media Voices. You can find out more about Inside Voices at InsideVoicesMedia.com

It’s hosted by me, Warren Olney.

Our producer is Julie Carli.

This series was edited by Gary Scott.

With fact checking by Alec Cowan.

Sound engineering by JC Swiatek.

And Katie McMurran is our sound designer.

This series was made possible through the generous support of Climate Resolve, it addresses global climate change with local action. Learn more about Climate Resolve at climate resolve.org.

Special thanks to Noaki Schwartz from the California Coastal Commission, who gave us valuable information about those proceedings in Dana Point. 

Shawn Raymundo from The San Clemente Times for his excellent reporting on sand replenishment projects. 

And, to  the folks at Surfrider Foundation. We appreciate you putting us in contact with Rick Erkeneff.