He says he knows more about Isis than his generals, and claims to understand politicians “better than anybody”. Now there is another subject in which Donald Trump’s expert knowledge surpasses that of everybody else: wind turbines, though he calls them windmills.
“I’ve studied it better than anybody I know,” the president asserted in a bizarre segment from a weekend speech to young conservatives in West Palm Beach, Florida, close to his winter retreat at Mar-a-Lago where he is spending the holidays.
“I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? Go under a windmill someday. You’ll see more birds than you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Trump ripped into a range of familiar targets in a speech lasting more than one hour at the Turning Point USA student action summit, from the Democrats and House speaker Nancy Pelosi, to his recent impeachment and the so-called Never Trumpers in the Republican party who he said were “the dumbest human beings on earth”.
But it was his rambling and often nonsensical remarks about wind turbines, during a diatribe against the Green New Deal and renewable energy resources, that raised eyebrows.
“They’re made in China and Germany mostly,” Trump said of wind turbines, of which there are more than 57,000 across the US, according to the American Wind Energy Association. “But they’re manufactured tremendous if you’re into this, tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. 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?”
It was unclear what exactly Trump meant, or how Trump equated wind turbines converting clean air into energy to toxic fumes fouling the atmosphere. But he did share his thoughts on their appearance.
“You see all those [windmills]. They’re all different shades of color,” he said. “They’re like sort of white, but one is like an orange-white. It’s my favorite color, orange.”
The president’s “war on wind” is not new: earlier this year he was ridiculed for his claims that wind turbines destroyed property values and caused cancer from their noise.
He is accused of having begun his tirades against wind turbines after wind farm developments were proposed near the golf course he owns in Scotland.
There is some evidence that wind turbines have a negative impact on wildlife: a 2013 study by the Wildlife Society estimated widespread fatalities in California, including close to a million bats and more than half a million raptors, including bald and golden eagles.
The president’s final words on the subject, before hailing himself an “an environmentalist” presiding over an environment “in very good shape”, concerned the long-term aesthetics of wind turbines.
“You know what they don’t tell you about windmills? After 10 years they look like hell. They start to get tired, old,” he said, lamenting that owners of ageing windmills not replacing them without government subsidies was “a really terrible thing”.