SEI Update

May, 2023

LACCD Sustainable Environment Institute
The Sustainable Environment Institute in Partnership with the Professional Development College of DAS present:  
The Inflation Reduction Act:
What is the IRA all about?
"Numerous analyses show that the bill (IRA ) will put the US on the path to cutting emissions roughly 40% from 2005 levels by 2030"
-Climate Reality project

With our guest Andrew Ellis, Environmental Scientist and speaker from the Climate Reality Project, SEI will take a deep dive into the Inflation Reduction Act and its capacity to significantly reduce carbon emissions. We hope to address why it is so important, and what its impact can and will be. We will look at IRA policies, programs, resources and incentives for our students, ourselves and our communities. Flex credit is available.

Researching the climate-related components in the IRA, myriad sources have provided details on what these are and why they matter. McKinsey & Co, a major business and management consultant firm globally summarizes the ingredients and the revenue needed to cover the act. There is also this report from the Repeat Project. The White House has provided a guidebook of sorts to educate the public on the act.

Important Climate News in the last two months suggests that our concept of scale and pace of the climate crisis might be too conservative.
Greenland glacier

Earth processes that are either less understood or unknown have been observed with some accelerating quicker than first measured.  

Four recent articles are worth noting given their relatively alarming tone and implications. The key message in these is that we are not doomed, on the contrary, we can and must act now to avert the worst of what could happen. The Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan reports that the world is on the brink of devastating climate warming but also states that the objective of not surpassing the 1.5ºC objective is not impossible if global 2030 goals are met. 

A Grist article points to higher ocean temperatures that are a consequence of their ability to capture 90% of the additional heat on the planet. El Niño and La Niña cycles will be the most immediate evidence of the warmer oceans as will the frequency and number of annual tropical cyclones.

On the polar extremes of the planet, previously unknown or not well understood processes have garnered attention. Like the North Atlantic thermohaline current, where salty cold water sinks to the seabed and begins a long journey around the world, the Antarctic “overturn” current, is already showing signs of disruption as ice melt delivers so much fresh water to the surrounding ocean that the “downwelling” current, where denser water sinks, is ceasing its overturn.  

“These deep ocean currents, or "overturnings", in the northern and southern hemispheres have been relatively stable for thousands of years, scientists say, but they are now being disrupted by the warming climate.”

Our understanding of the impacts of a warming atmosphere on the icesheet of Greenland must also now be revised since the Steenstrup glacier, believed to be stable, is now melting and retreating at a much faster rate.  

The political will to act and the needed investment in renewable energy, phasing out of fossil fuels, and commitment to plan for the inevitable disruption that any change portends has to take precedence over the fear of discomfort or worse, denial that impedes our engagement with the reality before us. 
Gold Creek Ecological Reserve has a new Open House date — May 20
Originally scheduled for May 6th - the event was postponed as there were serious concerns about the road access. 

From Mike Farrell, Gold Creek Coordinator:

It is my pleasure to formally invite LACCD employees and their families to our rescheduled Gold Creek Open House, beginning at 8am on Saturday, May 20. For those of you who were planning to come last weekend, our road has dried out from the surprise May storm, and our site will be ready to go! For anyone else, this is a fresh opportunity to come visit the site.
This year's event includes trail tours, nature collection displays, and community science demonstrations. Early registration and bird walk begin at 8am. Trail tours start at 9am and our potluck lunch at 11am. Veggies burgers/dogs will be provided by the Gold Creek Committee. Please bring a side dish or something else that can be shared.
Please RSVP with your Gold Creek campus representative by Wednesday, May 17, and that person will provide a map and directions to our Ecological Field Station which is located near Sylmar.
Campus reps are: Vered Mirmovitch (WLAC), Laney Ray (ESC), Kang Kim (LASC), Lisa Zung (LAVC), Robert West (ELAC), Shannon DeVaney (Pierce), Elizabeth Jordan (Mission), Tissa Munasinghe (Harbor), Marissa Pantastico Caldas (LATTC), and Mike Farrell (LACC) You may also address questions to: Mike Farrell Professor of Geography at LACC, Gold Creek Coordinator
Gold Creek botany
SEI Earth Day Month Events in Review

SEI held its very first film festival for Earth Day Month. Many of the films are still available to view.  

Our Seminar on April 28th opened a vital discussion about what we consume. We covered fashion and its extreme and growing impact on the health of our environment with Ken Pucker from Tufts University. 

Frank Fitzpatrick and Marce Evans from the HERD Foundation talked about the role that large grazing animals play in building soil and protecting land from desertification, especially here in Southern California.

Hanna Barlow from the Good Food International spoke about alternative proteins and how they might be used to feed the world. 

Finally Mellisa Larsen and Maci Meier filmmakers and permaculture farmers and ranchers, spoke about soils, regeneration and the need for restoration of farm lands. 
All of these talks and more are located on the SEI website;
Denim Day Makeover: Hosted by the Women Empowerment Club of LAVC
LAVC Denim Day
Guest Writer Fatema Baldiwala, Adjunct Professor from Valley College, talks about her students take on combining Denim Day and Earth Day.  

Your favorite denim jeans have a dark secret. Denim is the fabric that carries a significant carbon footprint.

Denim is made with toxic chemicals that cause harm not only to you but also to the environment you live in.

Denim is dyed with synthetic indigo which may release cancer-causing phthalates, an aromatic amine. This is absorbed in your skin. The darker the denim, black and deep blue, also contain the highest concentration of p-Phenylenediamine, which is a chemical known to trigger allergies and cause dermatitis.

Furthermore, a substance known as mordant is used to bind synthetic indigo to the material. Mordant is high in toxic heavy metals like aluminum and chromium. If you notice a smell, that is formaldehyde. Considered a systemic poison, formaldehyde is easily absorbed by your lungs ( Yet it is still widely used in the manufacturing of clothing and home goods. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that attacks the respiratory system, and a skin irritant associated with burns to the skin or eyes.

Making denim into a pair of jeans takes 3626 liters of fresh water, 3 kilograms of toxic chemicals, and 400 MJ of energy, equivalent to keeping a lightbulb on for 116 days, and it takes 13 square meters of land to grow the cotton. The pesticides and herbicides that go into growing this cotton, further damage the earth. Discarded denim adds to the estimated 17 million tons of textile waste in landfills yearly. 

Old denim can be upcycled them into something new and fresh. At Los Angeles Valley College, Caroline Wilbourn of the Wilbourn Sisters shared with the Women Empowerment Club and Umoja students how to transform jeans into dresses, coats, shags, bags, jewelry, hats, and various other knick-knacks of practical value, extending the life of an ordinary pair of denim.

Not only did the women in Women Empowerment Club, and Umoja students, reflect on the importance of denim day, bringing about awareness of sexual abuse, but they also observed Earth Day by making it a denim make-over celebration. 
SEI seminars 2022-23
SEI presentation to the DAS May 11

DAS President Angela Echeverri made time for our presentation to DAS officers in a very busy event. Attendees heard that thanks to our partnership with the PDC, this year alone, we have now hosted 20+ hours of professional development, 8 seminars, with 17 topics and 20 guests. 

The SEI Website,, has allowed us to to improve access to the information, resources and events that help faculty teach sustainability and climate literacy
Sustainability Committees on each campus
LACCD campuses with Sustainability Committees
We maintain regular communications with the LACCD community on important issues related to sustainability. Now expanding Sustainability Committees on four campuses, Pierce, Mission, West and Valley. We are looking to Trade Tech and East next. These shared governance committees define localized priorities for each campus and provide timely and useful communication between facilities and campus faculty, staff and students on these priorities. 

If your campus is interested in building a sustainability committee, please reach out to for resources.
News Briefs
West LA College's New Climate Center Director, Jo Tovares
The LACCD will now have a Climate Education Center director announced on Earth Day April 22, at WLAC. Jo Tovares, currently completing her PhD at UC Irvine, shared her excitement about the job to both George Leddy and Beth Abels at the opening day event. She called it “a dream job come true.”. She will start in the director job July 1.  

Lourdes Brent from the PDC set to retire.  
The SEI is indebted to Lourdes Brent for making it possible for the SEI to hold LACCD Professional Development College seminars that are now in our third year. We have been able to bring important climate-related environmental discussions to our faculty, who receive flex time credit for attending. The now monthly seminars are growing in scope and bringing respected opinions and insights to our topical one hour zoom meetings.  

May Budget Revise
Environmentalists say Newsom’s budget cuts jeopardize climate programs, electric car mandate. The governor’s proposal to slash $6 billion in funding “unquestionably hurts the state more in the long-term,” one climate activist said. (CalMatters). 
Organizations We are following this month:

"Heal the Bay is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds in Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean. We use science, education, community action, and advocacy to fulfill our mission."
"CWH was founded in 1996 to advance the health and sustainability of our region’s watersheds, rivers, streams and habitats - both in natural areas and urban neighborhoods."
May 18, 12noon-1pm: via Zoom: The climate and environmental provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) with Andrew Ellis from the Climate Reality Project

May 18, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT – AASHE Workshop: Integrating Sustainability Literacy Across Your Curricula — Best Practices, $95

​May 21, 6pm: Concert for the People. A unique experience to celebrate TreePeople's 50th anniversary

​May 24: 10am-1130am: webinar hosted by the Climate Center- "What a World Beyond Fossil Fuels Will Mean for Workers, Families, and Communities" Register here.

June 13: 1pm-330pm PT, NOAA and the California Ocean Protection Council host a remote webinar on "California Ocean Litter Strategy" Register here.
from the editors…

As always we invite your submissions to this newsletter. Write about environmental issues that are important to you. Let us know what projects you or your students are working on. Tell us what is happening on your campus or in your community, Email the SEI staff with your proposed article or news brief, or calendar event. Contact