It’s been about 24 hours since Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head to head in the first US Presidential Debate. It was billed as something close to a heavyweight UFC title match, and it was arguably bloodier than that. I suspect that Conor McGregor would have been startled with just how quickly Hillary Clinton went on the offensive, and how long Donald Trump seemed to be on the back foot.
There is coverage aplenty of the debate as a whole, but I wanted to touch on the few moments — sparse though they were — that the candidates touched on issues that concern us here at CleanTechnica.
Trump Lies On Climate Change … Again
It was relatively early on in the debate, only ~12 minutes in, that Hillary Clinton, during the segment that moderator Lester Holt labelled “Achieving Prosperity,” that Hillary Clinton first let fly at her opponent as she started talking about the need for more jobs in America. As part of her plan to create 10 million more jobs, Hillary Clinton spoke of clean energy as one way in which she would accomplish this:
“Take clean energy,” Hillary Clinton said. “Some country is going to be the clean-energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.”
To which Donald Trump interrupted: “I did not. I did not. I do not say that.”
It has been a long-standing debate for Donald Trump as to whether or not he has in the past denied climate change. Sadly, for Donald, it has been less of a debate for the rest of us with access to Twitter (here’s the photo in case the Tweet ever gets taken down … but it’s worth highlighting that it’s still live):
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Apparently, Donald Trump has since conveniently claimed that this was a joke. However, he has also gone on to raise questions as to whether he actually thinks it was a joke or not. Speaking to Fox & Friends in January, Trump said:
“Well, I think the climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change. I’d be — received environmental awards. And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change. They burn everything you could burn; they couldn’t care less. They have very — you know, their standards are nothing. But they — in the meantime, they can undercut us on price. So it’s very hard on our business.”
Unfortunately for Trump, his campaign manager said Tuesday that “[Donald Trump] believes global warming is naturally occurring. There are shifts naturally occurring.” This has been his general message in recent months. As we have recently seen, thanks to the efforts of XKCD author Randall Munroe, the current trend of global warming bears absolutely no resemblance to the natural temperature shifts of the past many thousands of years.
Hillary Wants Half A Billion More Solar Panels
Ignoring Donald Trump is difficult at best, not least when you’re standing a few feet from him, but Hillary Clinton did her damndest to do just that on Monday night. Speaking over the top of Donald Trump as he denied his denial of climate change, Hillary Clinton went on to explain her plans for clean energy expansion in the United States:
“We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.”
Hillary’s solar and electricity grid promises came as part of a larger conversation about a means to create more jobs in America. Howeverm they bode well for the solar industry if Hillary is elected President in November.
Editor’s note: I actually think Hillary was shocked that Donald Trump was denying he said something that still sits in a public tweet of his and that he has stated elsewhere. I think she experienced such shock a handful of times during the debate when Donald made outrageous claims and lies. Rather than encouraging the fact-checkers, though, I think she would have been much more effective if she had dramatically emphasized how absurd he was being and how much he was lying. Unfortunately, Hillary was far too civil and political for that. –Zach Shahan
“Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics”
In a completely unsurprising turn of events, Donald Trump retorted to Hillary’s solar promises with more lies, statistics, and half-truths. “She talks about solar panels,” Trump responded. “We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster. They lost plenty of money on that one.”
What was we talking about, exactly, and does it have any bearing on reality?
Specifically, it is likely Trump was referring to the collapse of the then–Silicon Valley thin-film solar startup Solyndra and the way in which the company misled the US Department of Energy to receive its $535 million solar project loan. (For more information into the scandal, check out in-depth coverage from either The Washington Times or The Washington Post.)
However, even though Trump was not inherently lying when he referred obliquely to Solyndra, he went nowhere near presenting the whole truth. In fact, Donald Trump made it sound like the US only ever invested in one solar company, and it was a complete failure, and therefore the country should never thus invest in solar ever again. Donald Trump went on to say:
“Now, look, I’m a great believer in all forms of energy, but we’re putting a lot of people out of work. Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt. You can’t do what you’re looking to do with $20 trillion in debt.”
The reality is, however, that the US Government and the US people have invested billions into solar over the last decade, and it has had tremendous benefits in terms of cost savings, employment, carbon emission decreases, and more. We have spent years here at CleanTechnica outlining the many and varied ways in which solar (as one of several clean technologies) has rewarded consumers the world over, not just in the United States. Recent figures alone show that solar in the United States only continues to grow. According to new figures released by GTM Research and the US Solar Energy Industries Association, the US solar industry installed over 2 GW of new solar PV capacity in the second quarter of 2016, a 43% year-over-year increase, and the eleventh consecutive quarter that more than a gigawatt of solar PV capacity was installed in the country.
By the end of 2016, experts are expecting the US to have a total installed solar PV capacity in excess of 40 GW.
Editor’s note: Donald also pushed to cut regulations that protect our air and water, something that makes no sense and is actually counterproductive economically, as well as health-wise of course. — Zach
Author’s note: All quotes from the candidates debate performance were provided by The Washington Post transcript, available here. The full debate is also available to watch via the video below.
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