Donald Trump really, really hates wind-powered energy, possibly more than he hates Latinos. And on Tuesday he reminded us all why in a stunningly uninformed rant during a radio interview with 2012's Most Popular Token Black Republican, Herman Cain.
During the interview, Trump claimed that wind and solar energy are complete disasters as an energy source:
"They want everything to be wind and solar. Unfortunately, it’s not working on large-scale. It’s just not working. Solar is very, very expensive. Wind is very, very expensive, and it only works when it’s windy."
First of all, renewable energy is working on a "large-scale." According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, American solar power has nearly tripled in the last three years under President Obama, enough to power 3.5 million homes. That's a phenomenal pace of growth and it is accelerating.
Wind energy is also growing. The American Wind Energy Association released findings earlier this year that 18.2 GW of wind power capacity is under construction across the USA in addition to the 75 GW already in use. That represents 11.8% of the country's average annual peak usage.
You'll be shocked to learn that he also lied when he claimed that both solar and wind are "very, very expensive." The Department of Energy has reported that renewable energy costs dipped dramatically over the last few years. Rooftop solar is down 54 percent, wind turbines are down 41 percent and utility-scale solar farms are down 65 percent, making renewables very competitive with fossil fuels.
In fact, in the United Kingdom and Germany, wind power is actually the cheapest source of energy, thus disproving the "very, very expensive" rhetoric.
Finally, wind and solar energy do work even if it's not windy or sunny outside. Someone long ago created these wonderful things called "batteries" and the energy industry has adapted these magical creations to store the energy produced by renewables. Elon Musk, an actual billionaire, is building the world's largest factory to cheaply mass produce batteries for this very purpose.
So not only are renewables effective and affordable, they are about to become far more attractive than dirty fossil fuels that have a slew of hidden costs we're not supposed to talk about -- like the acidification of the ocean, air pollution, and you know, global warming.
Trump still wasn't finished making an ass of himself. The Republican presidential nominee then went on to tell Cain that wind turbine fields in California were completely run down, destroying the aesthetics of the state and that the turbines aren't even made in the U.S.:
"They have all these different companies and each one is made by a different group from, all from China and from Germany, by the way — not from here.. And you look at all these windmills. Half of them are broken. They’re rusting and rotting. You know, you’re driving into Palm Springs, California, and it looks like a poor man’s version of Disneyland. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen."
The truth is that as of 2012, 72 percent of wind turbine components were being built domestically and turbine exports totaled $388 million. Also, his claim that the Palm Springs windmills are "rotted" and "broken" is a pants on fire lie. You can see how beautiful they are here.
As if all of those lies were not enough for one short conversation, Trump was able to fit in even more:
And it kills all the birds. I don’t know if you know that … Thousands of birds are lying on the ground. And the eagle. You know, certain parts of California — they’ve killed so many eagles. You know, they put you in jail if you kill an eagle. And yet these windmills [kill] them by the hundreds."
The lie about the birds is one Trump has repeated many times and despite his belief that if he repeats something enough it'll be true, it's still completely false. Eagles are not being killed by the hundreds every year. The best estimates show that 100 eagles (of all types) die each year as a result of turbines, hardly a threat to any eagle species, even a protected one.
As for ordinary birds, big skyscrapers (like the ones Trump builds) kill up to one billion birds a year while turbines are at fault for between 140,000 to 368,000 deaths. So, in reality, if Trump wants to ban something because it leads to the death of birds, he should start with his own real estate business.
There was a time when it would have been amusing that someone like Trump is so completely and utterly ignorant of basic facts, but it's not anymore. This is a man who is running for President of the United States and he has no clue what he is talking about. And with the presidency within the grasp of his alarmingly short fingers, that should terrify us all.