Benefits of wind Trump demagoguery

For someone who likes polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE seems to be ignoring recent polling that shows 81 percent of self-described conservatives favor expanding wind power.

Wind energy — which is homegrown and diversifies our electric grid — is a winning issue that is popular with most Americans, yet Trump keeps demagoguing the issue and ignoring the facts. With this or any issue, it is impossible to be a genuine conservative and ignore facts.

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At a recent campaign rally in Pennsylvania he said, “The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that.”

Trump has taken hyperbole to a whole different stratosphere.

His claim is ridiculous and deserves some honest perspective. Almost 600 million birds are killed every year in the U.S. because they fly into tall buildings and windows. What is that saying about people in glass houses?

While wind energy does have an impact on bird populations, causing between 130,000 and 500,000 bird deaths a year, it represents less than 0.01 percent of all human-related bird deaths, and a fraction of those caused by the skyscrapers that Trump himself likes to build.

Domestic cats kill more than two billion birds a year, and other major sources of bird mortality include power lines, cell phone towers and cars. That’s according to data from the National Audubon Society.

As a conservative conservationist and a bird lover, I do not take any source of bird mortality lightly. The wind industry has a commendable record of being proactive on this issue, but it must continue to diligently work to reduce its impacts.

In stark contrast to Trump’s hyperbole, studies show that wind energy has the lowest impact on wildlife and its surrounding habitats of any energy source.

The elephant in the room when it comes to wildlife conservation is climate change. It remains the largest threat to America’s wildlife, including birds. Over 314 bird species are threatened by climate change, and changing and decreasing ranges put almost 50 percent of the country’s bird populations in danger.

That’s why Audubon, a group dedicated specifically to bird conservation, “strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change.” The organization points out that climate change presents “one of the most profound challenges” to bird populations and that “The effects of climate change are already apparent — from habitat loss to devastating breaks in the delicate links that connect birds, migration, and food sources.”

Responsibly-sited wind farms are part of the solution to this budding biological crisis. We need to scale up ways to generate energy without emitting carbon dioxide if we want our children to enjoy the same diversity of species we do, and creating more of our energy with wind is one way to do that.

In 2015 alone, the use of wind energy prevented more than 28 million cars worth of carbon pollution, and over the last decade it accounts for 77 percent of U.S. growth in non-polluting power generation.

To the vast majority of Americans — irrespective of political stripes — that sounds like progress.

David Jenkins is the president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a national nonprofit organization.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.