President Donald Trump endorsed a conspiracy almost no one but chemtrail truthers believe to attack wind turbines. And he still managed to get it wrong.
For years, wind turbines have had two primary enemies: conspiracy theorists who incorrectly claim they cause headaches and nausea, and Trump, who lobbied for years against turbines near one of his Scotland golf courses. Now the conspiracy-obsessed president is continuing his war against wind power and is breathing weird new life into a claim that should have been dead decades ago.
“Hillary wanted to put up wind,” Trump said at a Republican fundraising event on Tuesday night. “Wind. If you—if you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations: your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay? Rrrr rrrr—you know the thing makes the—it’s so noisy.”
Wind turbines don’t cause cancer. Multiple studies have cleared the technology of the bogus health claims that float in conspiracy circles. In fact, most conspiracy theorists don’t even claim the turbines cause cancer. Instead, their grievances usually focus on illnesses that are harder to diagnose and easier to imagine, like nausea, stress, and insomnia. Only the fringe of the fringe believe the most extreme claims about wind turbines and Trump seems to be among them.
Trump kept going, attacking turbines as a pox on everything from birds to home entertainment.
“And of course it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you love birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill because it’s a very sad, sad sight. It’s like a cemetery. We put a little—we put a little statue for the poor birds. It’s true. You know in California, if you shoot a bald eagle, they put you in jail for five years. And yet the windmills wipe em all out. It’s true. They wipe em out. It’s terrible.”
After a diatribe involving CPAC and a walk with Kim Jong Un, he returned to railing against wind power by invoking a story about a woman struggling to watch television.
“The woman, she wants to watch television. And she says to her husband, ‘is the wind blowing? I’d love to watch a show tonight, darling. The wind hasn’t blown for three days. I can’t watch television, darling. Darling, please tell the wind to blow.’ No, wind’s not so good.”
Trump’s parable of a woman being unable to watch TV is, of course, not how wind turbines work. The turbines convert wind into electricity and feed it back into a power grid. The turbine would not have to actively spin to power a television.
But overall his claims are a muddled version of what conspiracy theorists have pushed for decades.
Technology is a touchy topic for followers of fringe ideologies, with conspiracy theorists accusing things like airplane trails and cellular signals of causing cancer or being part of a secret government mind-control plot. Theories about wind turbines sometimes appear on Natural News, a large conspiracy site with a far-right bent. (On Wednesday, the site’s top three stories were an article claiming Trump is trying to protect the country from “electromagnetic pulses,” an article claiming Satanism is on the rise, and an article calling on Trump to release militias on immigrants.)
Believers in “wind turbine syndrome” seldom claim the machines cause cancer though.
But Trump is joined in the fringes by another, more extreme wing of the conspiracy community. Some of this set believes in chemtrails, a theory that falsely claims commercial planes are spraying mind-control drugs into the air.
Members of chemtrail groups on Facebook sometimes accuse wind turbines of being involved in weather manipulation or population control. An oft-shared video in conspiracy groups and blogs features a person claiming to be a former member of a conspiracy-plagued agency. The person claims wind turbines are somehow connected to a plot for “the full spectrum dominance of planet earth.”
Trump almost certainly does not believe wind turbines are part of a government mind-control plot. But his Tuesday night claims are the latest instance of him repeating conspiratorial claims from the depths of the internet. Previously, he has tweeted a discredited meme about immigrants carrying Muslim prayer rugs into the country, and a set of fabricated, racist crime “statistics” that falsely claimed African-Americans commit more crime.
In his Tuesday night speech, Trump also bashed the U.S. for not producing wind turbines.
“They’re all made in China and Germany. We don’t make them here, essentially. We don’t make them here,” he said. “And by the way, the carbon, and all those things flying up in the air—you know the carbon footprint? President Obama used to talk about the carbon footprint, and then would hop on Air Force One, a big 747 with very old engines and he’d fly to Hawaii to play a round of golf. You tell me, the carbon footprint.
“But that’s the way it is. We have the greatest energy in the world. They wanted to take it away from us. They don’t like that we have it.”