Even unscrupulous liars can be fundamentally right about a topic or two. Donald Trump, despite his crassness and pro-development attitude, was telling truths about industrial wind power years before the 2016 Presidential election. His motives didn’t have to be pure to describe the obvious. The public had been brainwashed by “clean energy” rhetoric associated with progressive causes, enabling widespread desecration of scenery. It caught many people off guard when the blight rapidly accelerated in Europe and under Obama’s PTC.
Trump’s public involvement started when he opposed an offshore wind project that would blight views from his Aberdeen area golf course (map), which itself was under scrutiny for covering shoreline sand dunes. There was also local opposition to the wind farm but environmentalists focused on protecting the dunes. Many have turned a blind eye to Scotland’s growing wind power blight as urgent CO2 targets are chased. See videos of Trump facing Scotland’s Parliament and getting nothing but smug attitudes despite articulate experts testifying with him. The wind industry treats iconic landscapes like graffiti walls and Loch Ness residents now fear encroaching wind monsters, much realer than their mythic beast.
Someone famous needed to call out the environmental hypocrisy and Trump was it, but he’s tarnished the anti-wind-power movement during a critical phase where subsidies may not be extended. Whenever he speaks you can imagine greentech nerds smirking over “installed capacity” on some ruined horizon. The only places safe from new wind projects are either windless, officially designated as scenic from many angles, obvious flyways for birds & bats, or capable of angering enough landowners. Even though backlash is growing, the world faces an increasingly ugly future as civilization pretends to right its wrongs.
The documentary, “You’ve Been Trumped” (2011) covered the golf course dunes dispute. It was depicted as greedy old Trump vs. Nature, while a much bigger wind power invasion of Scotland and other countries was in full swing. Trump’s golf course is a relative blip compared to the total scope of land alteration. Both the dune-protectors and Trump were losers in that case, and nature loses to energy sprawl daily. People have built wind turbines directly amid sand dunes (below) and just about anywhere they can get away with it. Calling it green on the flimsy premise that it’s “fighting” fossil fuels (which allow it to exist) is the very sort of lie Trump would tell!
Using the logical fallacy of guilt by association, Trump is continually mocked for daring to criticize a “renewable energy” technology, with emphasis on his comments about birds and cancer. At rallies and conferences, he’s said that wind turbines are ugly, killing all the eagles, and actually cause cancer. It’s automatically assumed in politically-correct crowds that he’s lying or grossly exaggerating, since wind turbines still have a “green” sheen through extensive lobbying. They’re not killing all eagles (yet) and his cancer correlation should have focused on noise which can weaken immune systems and lead to greater disease risk. But he was telling a core truth when he said they’re an unreliable energy source because wind “only blows sometimes” (millions have seen idle blades). Trump erred by implying the power would go completely out, but fossil fuels usually provide backup, and new plants (typically gas) have been built to accommodate wind projects. They will never be 100% renewable, including their heavy manufacturing inputs.
2020 Presidential candidate Jay Inslee said of Trump: “Wind turbines do not cause cancer, they cause jobs.” He was cherry-picking Trump’s most dubious criticism while ignoring other big negatives. Inslee is a classic “bright green” progressive who thinks technology and rebranded growthism can fix everything. With that mindset comes denial of wind power’s big energy sprawl problem. As a long-time Washington Congressman, then Governor, he was OK with the southeast corner of his state being overrun by huge pinwheels and blinking red lights. The other end of the Columbia River has been under threat from the Whistling Ridge Energy Project which has more urbanites within its viewshed and may not happen. Scenery aside, Inslee’s job-creation angle is misleading, since wind projects generally bring in outside specialists with relatively few permanent local jobs. Emphasizing jobs as the gospel of progress also promotes economic growthism, which is what led to climate change in the first place. Most politicians will not touch that subject.
In time, as more turbines are built, Trump’s statements today will seem prescient, and he’s hardly the only one concerned. Even his rants about “fake news” have some merit in wind energy’s spun context. Highly intrusive due to their extreme size and acreage-needs, wind projects are no less harmful to the environment than any large structures displacing nature’s physicality, but they’re worse because of stark contrast with rural environs, like having Sky Whirl triple Ferris wheels all over the countryside, and much taller. Wind factories also require vast new road networks and forest clear-cuts, and their impact on birds and bats is well documented, despite industry attempts to understate it. Corpses are often eaten or dragged away; impossible to fully count over tens of thousands of acres per facility. Calling wind turbines “beautiful” is absurdly subjective if you see what environmentalists used to protect from bulldozers and chain saws.
If Trump proves that wind power is GOOD, Charles Manson proves that environmentalism is BAD. His general derangement didn’t debunk his deep ecology views, which were echoed by the likes of Arne Næss (as fair-minded as you’ll find). Trump is no Manson, just a greedy megalomaniac, but you don’t mock a logical message simply because the messenger is unpleasant. Almost everyone has valid views on certain topics, hard as it can be to admit. If Trump manages to slow the growth of wind power, the end could justify the means, especially since it’s doing very little to offset fossil fuels and can never replace them.
More thoughts on what ails industrial wind power:
- John Muir Trust (Muir would have agreed on wind power vs. wilderness)
- Struan Stevenson (well-reasoned Scottish conservative and scenery ally)
- Paul Kingsnorth (prominent UK writer/activist on people vs. nature; see video)
- Robert Bryce (common sense articles on alternative energy and sprawl)
- George Wuerthner (2008 warning about Big Wind, plus utilitarian context)
- Jim Stiles (good piece on mainstream environmental groups selling out)
- Additional posts on this site: Blight for Naught + Windschmerz
End note on Trump: In a fair world he’d be impeached for environmental policy corruption, like accusing California of Clean Air Act failures after running an anti-EPA campaign and trying to cut MPG standards. Still, he brings up important issues like excessive immigration, the main source of U.S. overpopulation. Immigration has declined since he took office. Few politicians are willing to say “Our country is full,” even if Trump is in denial of overpopulation, ecologically. A leader with similar views who didn’t conduct himself like a reckless teenager, could actually do some good in the world. It’s too bad Trump has shown few signs of maturing during his White House stay. Re-electing him would be a yuuge mistake, but we sure don’t need the Green New Deal either.
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