Future Imperfect

San Diego

In California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, San Diego County is its own region. In the south it borders Mexico. Its western edge is 70 miles of Pacific coast, lined with beaches and cliffs. To the east is mountainous desert. This part of the state is home to about 3.4 million people – projected to grow to 4 million by 2050 and most of them live in the western part of the county. You’ll hear from three young people in the region whose experiences will help you glimpse San Diego's climate future. It includes sea-level rise, plus a whole lot more.


  1. In what ways is climate change expected to affect the San Diego region? Which of these effects will have the greatest impact on people’s day-to-day lives, in your opinion?

  2. What kinds of things affect sea level along the coast at any particular place and time? Explore the map at Our Coast Our Future to see how different combinations of sea level rise, wave height, flooding, and coastal erosion will affect the San Diego coast.

  3. How are historical and social factors making people’s experience of climate change better or worse? Think about sea level rise, heat, access to water, and flooding. Using the CalEnviroScreen, see which parts of San Diego county are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

  4. I asked the young people I interviewed to tell me about the future they worried about and the future they hoped for. How would you answer those questions?


In order of appearance, the young people I interviewed for this episode were: Amber (San Diego), Leilani (Bonita), and Diego (Chula Vista). 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:

From and about Indigenous peoples whose ancestral lands are in this region:

Sea level rise:

Wildland-Urban interface:

About the drying of the Colorado River: