By: BILL BRUNS, Circling the News Contributor
Late last Friday afternoon, September 23, as the Global Climate Strike demonstration was ending on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, one student shouted, “There’s Rick Caruso!” The Los Angeles Mayoral candidate (versus Karen Bass) was across the street, walking his dog while touring his mall, Palisades Village.
Several HRW Student Task Force members from Palisades Charter High School waited for a green light, then ran across Sunset and talked Caruso into visiting their rally.
“What are you trying to accomplish here?” Caruso asked the students, who were joined by members of a new community organization, Resilient Palisades. (Watch Rick Caruso speak with STF members)
“We are trying to raise awareness of the climate crisis on the political agenda,” said Madelyn. “Politicians should really be focused on the climate crisis.”
“I agree with you,” said Caruso, who waved to several drivers that honked as they went through the intersection. His dog stood calmly at his side.
“This issue is important now, and we have to take action now,” said Ellery.
“Ellery is right—the problem has to be handled now; it should have been handled a long time ago,” said Caruso, who praised the students for “making noise and bringing it to people’s attention.”
After Caruso mentioned a water-recycling program at his Palisades mall and emphasized how “we should be pushing everyone to be doing the right thing for our environment,” a student asked, “How exactly are you planning on doing that as mayor?”
Caruso cited several highlights from his plan.
One, “We need recyclable water. We have billions of gallons that go into the ocean; we should be putting it (back) in our natural aquifers and filter the water so we can use it over again.”
Second, “We need to change our power plants to hydrogen, which is completely clean burning, and take out natural gas burning, to lower CO2 emissions. We have got to advance the solar agenda, but it’s very inefficient and hydrogen is very efficient.”
A demonstrator asked, “So your agenda is to create new infrastructure. How would it be funded? We already have the technology to create solar, but we don’t have the infrastructure to have hydrogen power.”
Caruso responded, “No, you can take a power plant and convert to hydrogen very easily. We’re testing hydrogen at a power plant in Utah and it’s working well. We could bring it [the technology] out here to L.A. and we’d have zero emissions.”
PaliHi environmental science teacher Steve Engelmann introduced himself and pressed Caruso, noting that “the majority of hydrogen is not produced with green energy.”
“We are testing green hydrogen,” Caruso said.
Engelmann replied, “So the question is: It takes energy to produce green hydrogen, and that is where solar can help make that hydrogen.”
“I agree with that,” said Caruso. “I think you go after every technology and see what does the best. And then let’s adopt the best practices.”
Gesturing to Engelmann, Caruso told the students, “You’ve got a great teacher right here. Keep it up—I’m proud of you guys.”
He then headed back to his mall to attend a Zoom meeting.
During the demonstration, three fire trucks came speeding along Sunset, horns blaring, and a protestor shouted, “The planet’s on fire!”