Trump tells Americans threatened by rising oceans to use ‘mops and buckets’ instead of building barriers

Maya Oppenheim
US president Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office on 7 January 2020: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
US president Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office on 7 January 2020: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on proposals to build a six-mile sea wall around New York, urging instead the city’s residents to use “mops and buckets” to cope with climate change related disasters.

The US president, who has previously claimed global warming is a "hoax" invented by the China, branded plans for a sea wall in his hometown “costly, foolish and environmentally unfriendly” on Twitter on Saturday night.

Mr Trump tweeted: “A massive 200 Billion Dollar Sea Wall, built around New York to protect it from rare storms, is a costly, foolish & environmentally unfriendly idea that, when needed, probably won’t work anyway.

“It will also look terrible. Sorry, you’ll just have to get your mops & buckets ready!”

The price tag the world leader apportioned to the sea wall is not accurate – with the Army Corps of Engineers predicting the barrier would cost $119 billion and 25 years to construct.

Mr Trump’s rant followed a New York Times report on the barrier, which would shield New York as sea levels surge and ferocious storms become more common and extreme due to climate change.

The sea wall, which would construct a barricade of man-made islands with retractable gates, has faced criticism from some.

According to the report, the wall would not be able to guard against flooding from high tides and storm overflow and could shut in sewage and toxins that could damage the city’s ecology.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, hit back at Mr Trump on Twitter and argued the world leader’s “climate denial” was deadly.

Mr Blasio said: “'Mops and buckets’. We lost 44 of our neighbours in Hurricane Sandy. You should know, you lived here at the time. Your climate denial isn’t just dangerous to those you’ve sworn to protect - it’s deadly.”

Plans for a sea wall remain in the early stages and the Army Corps of Engineers is also looking at other options to safeguard New York.

Mr Trump’s outburst came just months after announcing he is now a resident of Florida, a move the New York Times suggested was for tax purposes.

The publication said Florida, which does not have a state income tax or inheritance tax, “has long been a place for the wealthy to escape the higher taxes of the northeast”.

The president, who was born and brought up in the New York City borough of Queens, claimed in a tweet he had been “treated very badly” by political leaders in New York.

He said: “Despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year ... Few have been treated worse.”

Before taking political office, Mr Trump lived in New York, but since becoming president he has more often stayed at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Mr Blasio mocked Mr Trump’s relocation at the time, saying: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out or whatever. Our deepest condolences to the good people of Florida as Trump attempts to outrun his past.”

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