Future Imperfect

Inland Deserts

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.


  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.


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 Cahuilla and Cocopah peoples:

About the border at Calexico and climate migration:

About heat and the human body:

About heat and work:

About water:

About the Salton Sea:

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.