Future Imperfect

San Joaquin Valley, Part 1

In California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, the San Joaquin Valley region includes all of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Kings, and Tulare counties, plus parts of Madera, Fresno, and Kern counties. It stretches from Stockton in the north to Bakersfield in the south. About 4 million people live in this region. That’s a little over 10% of the state population. Because its agricultural economy is so intimately connected to the physical environment, climate change is going to have unusually profound effects on life in this part of the state. Part 1 focuses on air quality and heat in the Valley. Part 2 will tackle the incredibly complicated topic of precipitation – both drought and flooding.


  1. What kinds of air quality problems do people in the San Joaquin Valley region experience? What causes each of these problems?

  2. How is climate change expected to affect heat in the Central Valley? What are some ways this will affect people’s day-to-day lives?

  3. How vulnerable are communities in Bakersfield, Delano, Earlimart, Coalinga, and Huron to climate change effects? Using the CalEnviroScreen, compare your own neighborhood to neighborhoods in two of these cities.

  4. Have you had any weather- or environment-related experiences similar to the young people in this episode? If so, how do are your experiences similar? If not, why do you think that is?


In order of appearance, the young people I interviewed for this episode were: Yvette (Bakersfield), Elizabeth (Delano), Karissa (Delano), Ivan (Earlimart), Luke (Coalinga), and Michael (Huron). I also spoke with my scientist-collaborator, Nancy Freitas.


Want to listen on another platform? You can find Future Imperfect on Apple Podcasts and on Stitcher.


If you want to dig deeper into some of the topics in this episode, here are some places to begin.

About anticipated climate change impacts:

About the San Joaquin Valley economy:

About air quality:

About heat: