Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got a little confused about energy during a speech about energy.

Addressing a crowd of oil and gas company managers today, Trump said this:

And when the wind stops blowing, it doesn’t make any difference, does it? Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds. Someday, the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that. And then, all of a sudden, it stops; the wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say, “Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight. But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.” No, we love natural gas and we love a lot of other things, too.

That got a laugh from the crowd, which knew better. It's genuinely not clear if Trump did, too.

Trump's tone was light, but he's been weirdly hostile to wind power for as long as he's known about it. He told a crowd this past April that "they say" that the sound from wind turbines causes cancer. (It, uh, doesn't.) He's also fond of saying that a nearby wind turbine will drive down property values by "75 percent." In the real world, turbines are almost never built near houses, but when they are, they don't drive down property values. (They do provide rental income for the farms and rangelands where they're often built, though.)

As for birds, it's true that wind turbines kill about 234,000 birds per year. That's about 0.04% as many as are killed by collisions with buildings, 0.1% as many as are killed by cars, and 0.009% as many as are killed by cats. (In other news, Trump rolled back big parts of the Endangered Species Act yesterday, the centerpiece of legislation that protects endangered birds, including the bald eagle.)

Trump's strange anger towards wind isn't just a joke, though. Yesterday, he moved to shut down an offshore wind farm near Martha's Vineyard that would have met 3% of the total electricity demand for all of New England.

Who cares?

  • It's bad if you can't tell if the president is genuinely dumb, or pretending to be dumb.
  • Someone who tells you that windmills cause cancer because "they say" so is either very gullible or thinks you are.