THE BLOG
05/27/2016 03:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pretty Much Everything Donald Trump Said About Energy and Climate Was Wrong, Ignorant, or Gibberish

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The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has largely been a policy-free, fact-free, detail-free event, based on emotion (especially fear), pandering to shallow slogans ("Make America Great"), and the aggressive personal and ad hominem abuse of his Republican and Democratic opponents.

As a result, it is of special interest when Trump tries to address real issues and policies. This has happened only a few times, but it offers a glimpse into how woefully ignorant Trump is and how absolutely unprepared and unqualified he is to assume any kind of public office or hold any position of political power.

We had such a glimpse this week, when Trump rolled out a first look at how he views energy and environmental issues. Giving a rare pre-written and teleprompted speech before a select crowd in North Dakota, Trump addressed environmental issues, the faltering coal industry, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, international energy markets and the oil trade, and government regulations.

To say that real energy analysts and writers were underwhelmed would be an understatement. Among the characterizations of his speech by journalists and energy experts: Trump "seemed perplexed" about how international agreements worked; Trump's call for energy independence is a "meaningless concept"; Trump's "comments were out of step" with economic reality; he offers "vague promises to create jobs in whatever resource is most prevalent in a given state"; and the speech "included omissions and inconsistencies, and ignored market forces."

And when one journalist -- an energy reporter from Wyoming, Leigh Paterson -- tried to get more detail on his coal policies in a press conference prior to the actual speech, her straightforward questions got a completely ignorant and nonsensical reply. The transcript of that exchange is here.

Even the New York Times, very careful about language and word choice, seems to be coming to grips with how to cover a presidential candidate who tells repeated lies and misrepresents reality to a degree unprecedented in recent national politics. In a story about Trump's energy speech, reporters Ashley Parker and Coral Davenport made an effort to place Trump's comments on energy, coal, oil, climate change, and renewables in context in the world of fact and reality.

Some additional reading between the lines of the Times story might be useful, however, so I have picked out six pieces of this story below and offer some personal interpretation and annotation (in red) of the language to help the reader:
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One can only hope as the campaign continues and as the debates shift to more specifics on policy we will have the opportunity to hear more details from the candidates, and the press and experts will have the opportunity to dig deeper into which ideas and proposals are rooted in any plausible version of reality.

Peter Gleick on
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