Donald Trump hates windmills. I’m not sure why Trump hates windmills, but I assume the reason is the obvious one – coal, oil, and gas companies give a lot of money to his campaign. (To be clear, I am not actually talking about windmills. I am talking about wind turbines, but I am calling them windmills because that is what most people call them and that is what Donald Trump calls them in his speeches. See photo below of a windmill in a field of wind turbines.) Below are Donald Trump’s 4 main arguments against windmills, going from his best argument to his worst.

1. Windmills kill a lot of birds. True! The Audubon Society estimates that over 300,000 bids are killed in the U.S. every year by flying into windmills. Although that seems like a very big number, it is actually small compared to the number of birds killed in other ways. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that over 5 million birds die every year in the U.S. by flying into cell phone towers. That is almost 20 times the number of birds killed by flying into windmills. However, I have never heard President Trump denounce cell phones because millions of birds die every year flying into cell phone towers. It seems ironic (at least to me) that President Trump uses this argument against windmills — that they are responsible for the death of a lot of birds. One of Donald Trump’s favorite foods is Kentucky Fried Chicken.

2. Windmills lower property values. If you live in a house next to windmill, that will lower the value of your property. Windmills can be noisy and intimidating. However, windmills are rarely built next to houses. I’ve never seen a windmill in a residential neighborhood. Have you? Most windmills are built in rural areas and on farms, far away from houses. Windmills on farms don’t lower the value of the property. They increase the value of the property because windmills produce cash income to the farmer. In some states, windmills have become a major source of income for farmers. In Iowa, for example, over 1/3 of all the electricity produced in the state comes from windmills.3. Windmills cause cancer.  Donald Trump has retweeted this claim which started on conspiracy theory web sites. Trump has also stated in speeches at campaign rallies that people who live near windmills are dying from cancer caused by the noise created by the blades. However, there is no evidence anywhere to back up this claim.

4. Windmills are “spewing” air-polluting fumes and gases into the atmosphere. At campaign rallies, President Trump has repeatedly stated that windmills produce a lot of toxic fumes. Here is what Donald Trump said at a recent campaign rally about wind energy.  “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. 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.” 

There are a lot of things wrong with President Trump’s speech (beginning with grammar and syntax.)  But what about these fumes? Windmill fumes. Now – I am sure that Donald Trump knows that windmills do not have tailpipes or chimneys and that they do not produce fumes, but what about his supporters? While Donald Trump was delivering the speech above, they were nodding their heads in agreement. I saw them do it. What were these people thinking? What could they be thinking? How could rational people believe that windmills are poisoning the atmosphere with “tremendous fumes”? Frankly, looking at their faces, these people reminded me of people I knew who joined religious cults. To people in cults, anything the leader says is right. They question nothing the leader says, no matter how absurd it is. Is that what is going on here? What other explanation could there be? By the way, it is not true that almost no windmills are made in the United States, although a lot of people believe that. GE Wind Energy, a division of General Electric, is one of the biggest windmill manufacturers in the world. Also, I think Donald Trump is confusing Germany with Denmark. The biggest manufacturer of windmills in the world is Vestas, a company in Denmark. I have a cousin who works there.

Don Quixote? Donald Trump’s war on windmills reminds me of Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a famous Spanish story about a man who loses his mind and imagines that he is a knight. He declares war on windmills. He imagines that windmills are evil and want to harm him. Don Quixote attacks one of the windmills, charging at it with a spear, injuring himself. His friend Sancho tells Don Quixote that it is foolish to fight with windmills, but Don Quixote doesn’t believe him. Maybe an updated version of this story could be called ‘Donald Quixote.’