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Trump’s Climate Sneak Peek in Iowa

Sprinkled throughout Trump’s victory speech were a few anti-climate lines you’re likely to hear again.

Donald Trump.
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On Monday night, former President Donald Trump handily won what will officially go down as the coldest caucus in Iowa’s history.

The global warming jokes, naturally, wrote themselves. But in his freewheeling, name-dropping, teleprompter-free victory speech in Des Moines, Trump showed uncharacteristic restraint in avoiding the low-hanging comedic fruit.

Perhaps it was because Trump’s mind was on other things: his civil damages trial that begins in New York City on Tuesday, say. Or maybe, as I suspect, it was part of a larger trend that has come to shape Trump’s third presidential campaign — that he’s honing his attacks on climate science and the energy transition for the 2024 race.

Certainly, Trump’s Iowa speech featured some of his favorite one-liners from the campaign trail. “He comes all the way from Missouri, which isn’t that far,” Trump said at one point in an apparent reference to Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, one of numerous surrogates who’d helped with a ground game Trump hadn’t seemed terribly interested in trying himself. “Couldn’t drive an electric car that far, though,” Trump added to laughs — a variation of a jab about range anxiety that he’s been trotting out at his rallies. (Des Moines to the Missouri border is 76 miles, which even the least efficient EVs could make without stopping; most new EVs on the market could also make it to the capital, Jefferson City — 255 miles away — on a single charge).

Trump also made enthusiastic references to “drilling,” promising we’ll do a whole lot of it if he gets the White House back. “We have to stop the invasion, we have to bring down the energy — you know, I say all the time, we have more liquid gold under our feet than any other nation anywhere in the world — and we have to stop the crime and we have to help rebuild our cities,” Trump went on, distracted from his usual script, which typically involves an additional story about President Biden “begging” Venezuela for oil.

Trump had also spoken in specifics earlier in the evening when he’d told would-be voters that “I stood up for ethanol like nobody has ever stood up for it” — another dig at Biden’s climate agenda, which has aimed to limit liquid fuel in vehicles, a sensitive issue for Iowa voters during their primary season.

But if Americans could agree on anything this week, it’s that it’s cold. Between the Iowa caucuses and Tuesday night, more than three-quarters of the country will experience temperatures below freezing — weather that will shatter over 200 winter temperature records, all told. And while that might lend itself to unoriginal jokes among conservatives, scientists say the arctic blast is exactly the kind of extreme event we can expect more of in a climate-changed world.

On Sunday, Trump mocked any alarm that might instill in people — including his own supporters — by telling a group of climate protesters that interrupted his rally to “go home to mommy. Your mommy’s waiting.”

But nowhere is safe, and there are a long 11 months and three seasons to go before the next election. Still, some things can grimly be assumed to be forgone: Trump will almost certainly be the Republican candidate. And whatever comes next, it will be worse.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City. Read More

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Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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Sparks

This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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