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The California Reports’ host Saul Gonzalez caught a train to take an up-close look at climate change

The U.N. Climate Conference is being held in Glasgow, Scotland to discuss solutions to global warming. The California Report decided to bring the topic home, and take you somewhere that’s directly threatened by our planet’s changing climate. We're going to take a look at sea-level rise. So very early one recent morning, The California Reports’ host Saul Gonzalez caught a train.

Unedited transcript:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard. This is your cafe car attendance, the cafe. So I've come aboard and track specific surf liner, which connects downtown Los Angeles and downtown San Diego. It's about a three hour trip and it can be incredibly. Particularly as the train runs along the coastline, it's also a great way to see how climate change threatens the coast and all the things that human beings have built along the coastline over the past several decades,
that built environment threatened by rising seas includes ocean front homes, roads, piers, power plants, and this Berry train I'm writing. In September, both Amtrak and a commuter rail line had a suspend service. And part of this route for a couple of weeks, emergency repairs were needed because beach erosion partly attributed to climate change, threatened the track.
You know, the coastline is a super dynamic place. Naturally. Well, a professor of geological sciences at Cal state long beach, he says, even in normal times, California's coast can be a tricky place to build things and keep them safe. The coastline itself is actually a very mobile dynamic feature. It's, you know, it's where everything comes together.
The, the ocean, the atmosphere, the land, the rivers. It's constantly changing. And climate change says bell really supercharges, those changes, making storm stronger, tides higher, and coastal erosion of beaches and cliffs worse. It was terrible when I arrived in San Juan Capistrano station, Santa on campus.
Right. And you can really see how rising seas and eroding coasts could threaten this train route in everything around it. As we traveled through south orange county and into north San Diego. The train track comes really close to the Pacific ocean here. You feel like you can almost touch the water. It's a spectacular view, but it also shows how vulnerable this train and nearby homes and infrastructure are declining.
Now get off the train and walk the beaches and a town like San Clemente or Oceanside, and you can see how people have responded. Far to the threat. Sea walls have been built in front of many homes and giant boulders in place between the ocean and the train tracks and a lot of places. But in the longterm geologist, Rick bell says such coastal armoring actually makes erosion worse by starving the beach of new sources of.
It increases the energy on the beach causes more erosion drops the sand. And so there really is no beach left. Looking ahead. Belle says Californians will likely face the daunting and expensive challenge of moving some homes and critical infrastructure, including parts of this train route away from the coast.
That's. Planned retreat. Bell also says we have to stop thinking about sea level rise as something that's happening so slowly, we just don't have to worry about it yet. He says big changes to our coast could come dramatically. Fast beach erosion. Cliff retreat is not a gradual process. It's episodic so that when someone says, oh, that's long in the future, far in the future, it may be, or it may not be.
And when it happens, it's going to be some catastrophic events, some big events that will cause a lot of damage all at once. As I watched the California coastline passed by from the comfort of my train seat, remembering Bell's comments made the million dollar views of the water on a gorgeous morning, a lot more unsettling.