The Lodge at Doonbeg is one of the most highly praised resorts in Europe.
It attracts visitors from across the globe for its scenic views of Ireland's Atlantic coast and, most importantly, for its celebrated golf course.
Since February 2014, the resort has been owned by Trump International, who scooped it up after the previous owners reportedly became unable to afford the necessary repairs from a particularly harsh winter.
"We’re going to reshape it and make it one of the greatest golf courses in the world," Trump said at the time.
Trump's first order of business? Build up the part of the golf course that runs along the beach.
So Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. gave the go-ahead to move some massive boulders on the sand at the edge of the property — without bothering to get the proper construction clearance first.
As you can imagine, that didn't go over well. Local officials put a stop to the un-permitted rock wall quickly.
So the Trumps responded by ... threatening to build an even bigger wall.
It's a classic Trump negotiation tactic: If we have to ask permission to drop a few big boulders on your beloved beach, then we might as well go all the way and spend millions of dollars on a 200,000-ton rock wall that's almost two miles long and 15 feet tall.
"It seems a very heavy-handed approach," David Flynn of the local West Clare Surf Club told the Irish Examiner. "We are not anti-development and we had a very good relationship with the golf club since 2002, but what they are planning is a quantum leap from previous proposals."
When the Trumps filed a permit application with the Clare County Council about building the wall, they used climate change to justify the project.
According to Politico's review of the application's environmental impact statement prepared by an Irish environmental consultancy, it said in part (emphasis added):
"If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of 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."
Basically, they argued that this giant wall is necessary in order prevent additional damage from rising sea levels, which are caused by global warming and only getting worse.
Put another way:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1352229352.0
WANT TO SPEND...
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1388623196.0
Russia is on the move in the Ukraine, Iran is nuking up & Libya is run by Al Qaeda, yet Obama is busy issuing ‘climate change” warnings.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1399493490.0
ON A SEA WALL...
Don't let the GLOBAL WARMING wiseguys get away with changing the name to CLIMATE CHANGE because the FACTS do not let GW tag to work anymore!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1392640776.0
TO STOP SOMETHING...
There are many Jonathan Gruber types selling the global warming "stuff" - and they really do believe the American public is stupid.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1416358759.0
THAT DONALD TRUMP...
The con artists changed the name from GLOBAL WARMING to CLIMATE CHANGE when GLOBAL WARMING was no longer working and credibility was lost!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1388450642.0
Let's continue to destroy the competitiveness of our factories & manufacturing so we can fight mythical global warming. China is so happy!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1351779802.0
Windmills are the greatest threat in the US to both bald and golden eagles. Media claims fictional ‘global warming’ is worse.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1410293992.0
Keep in mind that Trump blamed the struggles of his Scottish golf resort on "bird-killing" wind farms. He has vowed to renegotiate the already-lackluster Paris Climate Accord if elected president. His proposed energy plan repeatedly refers to a nonexistent thing called "clean coal." And he has previously said that climate change is, "just a very, very expensive form of tax."
And then he specifically cited global warming as the reason why he needed to build an ugly rock wall to protect his treasured Irish golf resort.
This is, of course, incredibly maddening logic. But it's about about the environment too.
Rising water levels and erosion are real problems, and seawalls can in fact help mitigate some potential harm to coastal communities. In that regard, Trump's appeal actually makes sense. But according to Friends of the Irish Environment, a proposed 15-foot wall around one specific part of the beach could seriously interfere with Doughmore's ecosystem.
The reverb from Trump's ginormous wall could affect the natural cycle of the dunes and vegetation, hurting not only the rare creatures that live in that pristine environment, but also ruining the beach's reputation as a stunning vista and surf destination. By deflecting the winds and tides, the wall could also cause greater flooding damage to occur along other parts of the coast — where the local people, many of whom work at the resort, have to live.
Oh, and if the wall doesn't get built? Trump has already threatened to close the resort and devastate the local economy.
Tourism is a multibillion-industry for the Republic of Ireland, and the people of Doonbeg are essentially being held hostage in a catch-22: either Trump's giant wall gets built and the locals lose their beloved beach while bearing the brunt of flooding damage, or 350 people lose their jobs immediately, with the rest of the community suffering as a result of that lost income.
"The fear of our friends and neighbours losing work is very scary," explained an administrator from the Save Doughmore Beach Facebook page, in an interview with Magic Seaweed. "We are in no way trying to close the hotel and golf course, we are just asking for some ethical business practices and some sound environment practices."
This whole situation is essentially a microcosm of what Trump stands for and how he gets his way.
We've seen him use wealth and status to bully the little guy, while willfully denying the facts of reality just to make some cash. And now he's employing those same manipulative, strong-arm negotiation tactics in a pissing match over environmental issues and the interests of a small community.
It's possible to build coastal protections that don't also damage the environment.
It's possible to build a resort that provides hundreds of jobs without taking over the entire community, impeding their access to public property, and essentially creating an economic throwback to feudal sharecropping.
It's possible to compromise and still make a profit, to provide good services in good faith that make the world a better place and also keep the money coming.
But Trump's modus operandi has always been the same: He'll say that climate change is a hoax at the same time that he builds an ivory tower to protect himself from its effects, while also abandoning his own workers to live with worsened water threats and no choice but to just keep working for the man who got them into that situation in the first place.
That's not the kind of person that I want to see in the White House.