Inland Deserts includes all of Imperial County, plus desert areas of Riverside and San Bernardino counties the lands of 12 different tribal nations. How will its borderland location, desert environment, and water supply interact with climate change to affect the lives of people in this area? You’ll hear from two young people whose personal experiences will help you glimpse the future in this region.
In what ways is climate change expected to affect the Inland Deserts region? Which of these effects will have the greatest impact on people’s day-to-day lives, in your opinion?
What is the historical relationship between climate changes and migration? Why is migration (as a form of climate adaptation) more complicated now than in the past?
Look at the resources below about heat, the human body, and workers. What do you think about California’s current regulations to protect farmworkers? How do you think climate change is going to affect the lives of agricultural workers in the Inland Deserts region?
Do you think lithium mining in the Salton Sea is a positive development? Consider it from a perspective of existing air quality problems, the local economy, climate mitigation, and climate justice.
In order of appearance, the young people I interviewed for this episode were: Angela (El Centro) and Elias (Calexico). I also spoke with my scientist-collaborator, Nancy Freitas.
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:
Check out the Inland Deserts report - California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, Regional Reports
About the Cahuilla and Cocopah peoples:
Cocopah Indian Tribe website
Cocopah Now YouTube channel
About the border at Calexico and climate migration:
“For Native Americans, US-Mexico border is an ‘imaginary line’” from The Conversation
“Southwest Borderlands: Confluence and Conflict” from Smithsonian National Museum of American History
“Where Will Everyone Go?” from ProPublica and New York Times Magazine
About heat and the human body:
“Heat is the silent killer we should all be worried about” from Popular Science
“Health Check: how can extreme heat lead to death?” from The Conversation
“What It Feels Like to Die from Heatstroke” from Outside
About heat and work:
“Heat Illness Prevention” from California Department of Industrial Relations
“Protecting California’s Farmworkers as Temperatures Rise” from Science & Climate at UC Davis
“California’s Proposed Regulations for Night Farm Work Spark Debate” from Society for Human Resource Management (SRHM)
“Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness” from California Department of Industrial Relations
“Severe drought threatens Hoover dam reservoir – and water for US west” from The Guardian
“A Desert City Tries to Save Itself With Rain” from Bloomberg CityLab
About the Salton Sea:
“‘The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare” from The Guardian
Torres Martinez Wetlands, a project of the California Department of Water Resources
“Will California’s desert be transformed into Lithium Valley?” from Cal Matters
“New developments push lithium extraction closer to reality” from The Desert Review
“Move to net zero 'inevitably means more mining'“ from BBC News
Lithium Valley Commission, a project of the California Energy Commission
See photos of Elias’ favorite place, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park:
Extreme heat will be a problem across much of the US. The video below comes from Wisconsin, far to the north and east of Inland Deserts, but also facing the impacts of high heat.