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As a businessman, Trump treats climate change as a very real problem

On the campaign trail, candidate Trump says global warming is a 'hoax.' In business dealings, a Trump-owned golf resort by the Atlantic calls it a real threat. 

Scott Heppell/AP/File
In this July 2015 photo, Donald Trump drives a golf cart during the Women's British Open golf championship on the Turnberry golf course in Turnberry, Scotland. A Trump golf resort in Ireland is seeking to build a wall to keep rising seas from threatening the course.

Donald Trump the politician says he does not believe in human-created climate change. Donald Trump the business executive says he does. 

That’s the implication of a Politico piece Monday that details Mr. Trump’s efforts to build a sea wall around his seaside golf resort in County Clare, Ireland, in any case. It may have caught Trump in another of his straddles on issues, raising questions about what policies he would actually pursue if he wins the White House in November.

Let’s start with the views of Trump, presidential candidate. He’s repeatedly referred to climate change (or “global warming,” in the old phrase he prefers) as a “hoax.” He once tweeted that the whole concept was invented by China for the purpose of fleecing the United States manufacturing sector, though he’s since said that reference was a joke. 

In business deals, it’s another story. Two years ago, Trump bought a golf course and resort by the sea along Ireland’s west coast. It’s since been renamed Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland. Storms and erosion have bedeviled the place – it’s an area where sheer cliffs and the pounding Atlantic intermix. (Here’s a spectacular video of County Clare’s Cliffs of Moher getting pounded.) So Trump is trying to win permission to drop tons of rock around the place to stop his fairways from eroding.

In its permit application to do this, the Trump subsidiary running the place explicitly cites climate change as a major reason it needs a sea wall. It cites predictions of a rise in sea level as a result of global warming. If those are correct, much of the Irish coast will experience more erosion.

At Trump Ireland “the existing erosion rate will continue and worsen, due to sea level rise, in the next coming years, posing a real and immediate risk to most of the golf course frontage and assets,” reads the permit application, according to Politico.

We’ll start with the obvious response – this was not written by Trump in-between stupendous rallies. Business is business, and he has business executives making their own decisions about the best way to proceed in their local markets.

But come on – Trump’s brand is built on personal control. To a certain extent, that seems real, not feigned. Trump’s been heavily involved in courting local officials in his UK projects. It might be hard for him to dismiss this as something he hasn’t seen.

And in any case, he’ll be aware of it now. Will he persist? He might argue that he’s just taking advantage of Irish regulations, and that arguing in favor of climate change, whether he believes it or not, will help him protect his business. But if takes that tack the Irish authorities in question are unlikely to be amused. He might be undercutting himself.

In political terms, this is probably just the beginning of what will become a steady stream of revelations about the intersection of Trump’s complex business dealings with policy and issue positions. That’s what Democratic opposition research projects are for, after all.

To Trump’s remaining Republican opposition, it’s the sort of thing that drives them nuts. They see it as not an ordinary flip-flop but a shape-shift, another example of Trump taking liberal and conservative positions at the same time.

This shows how US voters won’t really know what Trump will do in office until he starts doing it, say Trump critics. 

“This kind of fence walking between conservatism and ideologically liberal positions are the things his Trumpidian cultists love about him. For the sane electorate, however, it is troubling,” writes Susan Wright at right-leaning Red State.

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