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Community Environmental Council hosts Extreme Heat Forum with focus on vulnerable populations

Inaugural Extreme Heat Forum comes at critical time

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.-In the wake of the hottest July on record worldwide, the Community Environmental Council hosted its first Extreme Heat Forum.

Panelists say the drought and deadly wind driven fire that has devastated Maui is also a wake up call.

Dr. David Lebell, who is a recently retired Emergency Medicine specialists who said power outages are especially dangerous for the aging population.

He is a member of the Gray Panthers Santa Barbara Network that hopes to educate, advocate and even agitate.

Dr. Lebell said plans need to be in place to deal with power failures during heatwaves.

The free event took place at the CEC's Environmental on State Street.

Organizers said 100 people joined the Zoomed live stream via

The forum also partnered with the Society of Fearless Grandmothers Santa Barbara.

Members Pam Bury and Maureen Ellenberger said 30 members made their quilt that sparks conversations about things individuals can do to make their communities more resilient.

They recommend joining climate groups like theirs and building community.

The CEC's Director of Climate Resilience Em Johnson said the marine layer along the Central Coast doesn't keep it from warming.

Data collected by the National Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) using temperatures recorded by the National Weather Service ranks Ventura County as the fastest warming county in the lower 48 states.

Santa Barbara County ranked second.

Johnson said there is no agreed upon extreme heat definition, but the impacts are becoming more obvious.

Regardless of those who don't wish to blame current disasters on climate change, an effort is underway to find solutions to reach zero or reduced carbon goals.

Participants said it is too late to just fight climate change, they said now is the time to defend communities.

"We are in this together and it is getting hot out there, " said Dr. Lebell.

The CEC recently launched Electrify Your Life to help people navigate tax credits to help cool your home.

Some of those credits are built into the Inflation Reduction Act.

For more information visit

Article Topic Follows: Environment & Energy

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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