SEI Update

August, 2022

LACCD Sustainable Environment Institute
from the editors…

Welcome to SEI Update, a more frequent, shorter email meant to supplement our in-depth SEI Reports. As always, we welcome submissions and feedback from LACCD faculty who might have a short text or commentary to share on any aspect of the environment from the global to the local to your own campus. Email the SEI staff with your proposed article or news brief of a calendar event.
flyer for Aug 18 event on urban heat
“Heat” from the SEI and the PDC Begins Fall Semester Seminars

Increasing summer temperatures in Southern California can affect the health of humans, animals, and plants, not to mention increase the risk of devastating fires. On August 18, host George Leddy and guests will consider the numerous challenges of extreme heat. This will be the first program in our series of monthly seminars this fall, which are produced in collaboration with the DAS Professional Development Committee.

Please join us on the 18th. Meanwhile, here are some helpful resources:

  • At the federal level, the website is "designed to educate about extreme heat risks and how to protect oneself from the dangerous effects of heatwaves.” (EcoWatch, July 27) 
  • Ready LA County Extreme Heat has several resources available to help manage extreme heat, including the locations of cooling centers and other resources.  
  • The Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC), has developed outreach tools to spread the word on coping with extreme heat. If you would like to access their graphics for your canvas sites or similar they are located here.
measures to avoid heat stress
SEI Schedule and Links for Fall Semester Seminars
August 18: “Heat” with Jason Finley, LA Pierce College, and Marta Segura, Chief Heat Officer for the City of LA.  

September 22: “Climate politics” with Professor Denise Robb, LA Pierce College.

with Dr. Bhutia, LA Harbor College.
Coping with Climate Anxiety

Climate or eco-anxiety is described by the American Psychological Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom” and as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis” by Psychology Today.

With more attention being paid to the various factors affecting younger people’s mental health, it's now clear that environmental and climate issues are a major contributor to the challenges facing youth today. Our own students face these issues, besides more immediate problems such as housing and job insecurities and the impacts of the COVID pandemic. 

A webpage via the LA Valley College Library, created by SEI’s Xiao Behlendorf, hosts resources for faculty and students confronting this challenge. Material includes books, articles. podcasts, and videos. There are links to several organizations that can help people facing a mental health crisis, as well as links to local environmental organizations where students can volunteer, intern, and even find paid positions. The tab on Climate Crisis Conversations hosts many resources, including a TED talk on mental health. 

Here are some additional resources:

  • The Mental Health Crisis Emergency phone number, 988, is now a national service for immediate help in a crisis. 
  • LACCD Student Health services on each campus are stepping up their capacity to help students distressed by the tsunami of bad news.
  • As mentioned above, SEI will host a mental health roundtable on November 10 as part of its fall series of seminars.
Environmental Justice Community of Practice

SEI’s goal is to make it easier for faculty to broaden climate content in courses in all disciplines. 

During the fall semester, SEI is planning to start a sustainability and environmental justice Community of Practice. Working together across disciplines, we will explore, share resources and practice embedding core knowledge into our curriculum. 

We have maybe eight years to bring our CO2 emissions down by 50% to keep temperature increase at 1.5°C or below. It is going to take all of us - every discipline, working on this. As a district, we have the capacity for real impact- possibly reaching and activating 230,000 Los Angeles community college students, their families and their communities through our classrooms.   

Stay tuned to more details. Please feel free to email Beth Abels at if you already know this is for you.

Some useful links to resources for curriculum development:

For more resources please go to our Teaching Resources page Take a deep dive into Our World in Data with information that is useful across disciplines. “The world is awful. The world is much better. The world can be much better” is one example of the resources available and the power of data. 
Local Environmental Organizations making a difference in Los Angeles
There are several nonprofits that are committed to helping greater Los Angeles become much more climate resilient. We plan on highlighting organizations that provide local volunteer opportunities and help remind us that individuals have impact and agency.   

“TreePeople’s mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment, making it safe, healthy, fun and sustainable and to share our process as a model for the world.”

TreePeople may already be well known by many in LACCD, as they are involved with programs on several district campuses and have planted over 3 million trees with hundreds of communities in the Los Angeles area. They are a highly active organization involved in tree planting, water conservation developing strategies to help make Los Angeles more livable and resilient. They recently shared the graphic below on caring for trees in drought.

TreePeople is hiring. Many full-time and part-time positions available, including eco-educator, community forestry, grant writers, Americorps. Internships are also available in wild land restoration.  
Was there a breakthrough on climate policy with Joe Manchin’s turnaround?
The short answer is yes. It would be the largest investment in fighting climate change the US has ever made.

  • $369 billion of new climate spending, the largest investment in emissions reduction in American history.
  • introduced technology-neutral tax credits that can be used for any low- or zero-carbon form of power generation.
  • Economists found that these technology-neutral tax credits were strikingly efficient, creating $1.5 trillion in economic surplus while eliminating more than 5 billion tons of carbon pollution.
  • A $7,500 rebate for new EV purchases.
  • extends a new (and similarly structured) $4,000 incentive for Americans to buy used electric vehicles—a first.
It will also change how Americans heat, cool, and power their home. The bill includes 10 years of subsidies for households to buy heat pumps, electric water heaters, and rooftop solar panels. That’s separate from the $10 billion in funding for low-income Americans to increase their home’s energy efficiency and electrify key appliances.

On the downside, there were some major concessions that environmental groups remain concerned about. To satisfy Manchin, it includes a number of fossil fuel giveaways – such as requiring new lease sales for drilling on public lands and offshore, and money for fossil-fueled power plants to do carbon capture and sequestration. There is no money for public transit or a Civilian Conservation Corps.

That said, these misgivings should not detract too much from what has been achieved. Long-time activists like Bill McKibben have reacted with shock and delight that the bill has apparently risen from the dead, and close students of climate policy see it as far more positive than negative. It will, they believe, allow the US to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030. That’s not the full 50% Biden hoped for, but close. Executive actions and state and local policies could get us the rest of the way.

Of course, first the bill needs to pass the Senate.