Donald Trump has a rare talent for stringing together baffling, contradictory, and nonsensical statements, whether that's in an official letter to members of Congress or delivered off the cuff to a crowded auditorium. While speaking to the conservative Turning Points USA conference on Saturday, Trump mocked the so-called Green New Deal, the expansive package of reforms meant to help the U.S. transition away from gas and oil dependence. The president seemed particularly irked that this would require more reliance on one of his most dreaded foes: windmills.
We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody I know. It’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly—very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous, if you’re into this, tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere.
First of all, Trump's concern about gases "spewing into the atmosphere" is confusing. His administration has rolled back and reversed all kinds of environmental protections and pollution restrictions, so this sudden interest in clean air is coming out of nowhere. On top of that, the environmental impact of wind power is negligible compared to coal, an industry that Trump has vowed to prop up no matter what the financial and environmental costs. And his claim that wind energy doesn't affect U.S. jobs is also flat out wrong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 83,000 Americans currently work in wind energy, as opposed to 50,000 who work in the coal industry.
From there he went on about the relative insignificance of Earth compared to the rest of the galaxy:
You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint—fumes are spewing into the air, right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything, right?
So they make these things and then they put them up. And if you own a house within vision of some of these monsters, your house is worth 50 percent of the price. They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? You just go. Take a look. A bird graveyard. Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen ever in your life.
This isn't the first time Trump has made bizarre claims about windmills, nor even the first time he's repeated these exact talking points. As explained in a Washington Post article in August of this year, he's said that windmills result in constant blackouts, cause cancer via noise, and drop housing prices (though he's softened the housing-price drop from 75 percent to 50 percent).
He's supplied no evidence for any of these claims, but his vendetta against windmills is deeply personal. In 2015, he sued the government of Scotland to prevent the construction of a wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen, arguing that it would disrupt the view of one of his resorts, which he has referred to as "perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world." Trump lost, and a court has ruled that he must pay back the Scottish government's legal fees.
Trump was technically correct on at least one of these points, though: Wind turbines do kill a lot of birds. The highest estimated death tolls in the U.S. go up to 328,000 birds a year, which is terribly small compared to the 8 million to 50 million killed by power lines, the 340 million killed by cars, and the 3.7 billion killed by cats annually.
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Originally Appeared on GQ