A year ago, researchers at two respected U.S. universities concluded Americans appear to be getting dumber. Their study showed peoples' cognitive abilities began declining in 2006 across all age groups, education levels, and genders.

The study generated a reasonably intelligent debate about why this is happening. Some speculated that smartphones, social media, autocomplete functions in computer programs, and artificial intelligence are replacing the higher functions of the human brain.

"We're all getting super lazy in our cognition because it's getting super easy to do everything," one expert hypothesized.

However, I blame Donald Trump.

Since he began dominating America's bully pulpit, he has popularized the idea of "fake facts." He calls journalists "enemies of the people," openly exhibits the manners of an elementary school bully, and gives speeches best described as oratorical flatulence.

He has invoked the lowest instincts of the American people, including hate, racism, and violence. He spouts outrageous conspiracy theories and insane opinions. Yet millions of Americans think he's fantastic. So many voters idolize Trump that one member of Congress referred to him as "orange Jesus." Odds makers say he could be elected president of the United States again.

There's no better example of Trump's habit of dumbing down issues than his views about the most significant threat of our time: global warming. It is caused by burning fossil fuels, but Trump says his presidential energy policy would be to "drill, drill, drill."

The world needs to adopt solar, wind, geothermal, and other types of zero-carbon renewable energy at a record pace to avoid catastrophic weather disasters caused by climate change. But Trump is a super-spreader of disinformation about these resources.

He seems to have a particular animus about wind power. "I've studied it better than anybody I know," he bragged during one speech. He tells audiences that wind turbines kill birds, lower property values, and make noises that cause cancer. "I know more about wind than you do," Trump told Joe Biden when they debated during the presidential campaign in 2020. "It's extremely expensive. Kills all the birds. It's very intermittent. Got a lot of problems."

However, a recent peer-reviewed study confirms that wind turbines have no measurable impact on bird populations. Published last December by the Environmental Science and Technology journal, the study found the real threat to birds comes from natural gas production. In migratory paths, feeding locations, and breeding grounds, gas drilling caused bird numbers to fall 25 percent because of noise, air pollution, and water disturbances.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service says other significant threats are cats, electric lines, oil pits, communication towers, and habitat destruction by agriculture and logging. Between 100,000 and 1 billion birds die every year in the U.S. by colliding with windows in buildings.

Trump ignores the experts. He heaps scorn on other types of renewable energy, too. When he visited a retirement community in Florida during the 2020 campaign, he told residents that Biden's support for renewable energy "would mean that America's seniors have no air conditioning during the summer, no heat during the winter, and no electricity during peak hours."

Actually, federal officials say Americans do face a threat of electricity shortages until 2028, but that's because the development of wind and solar farms is not keeping up with power-hungry new industries like server farms.

Trump's persistent lies about clean energy may have something to do with the oil and gas industry donating $3.8 million to his 2020 reelection campaign while he was president. He was the industry's largest recipient of its campaign contributions. Trump repaid the sector by promoting oil and gas production, revoking President Obama's greenhouse gas reduction policies, and weakening or repealing over 125 environmental rules and policies. The United States is now the world's biggest oil and gas producer.

Trump is courting the oil industry again to support his current presidential campaign.

"Trump's talking points at recent fundraisers have included a lot for oil barons to like, according to people who have attended these sessions," the Washington Post reports. "He has railed about electric cars, falsely claiming that the batteries often break down. He usually goes on a riff about wind turbines, a renewable energy source that he has falsely linked to cancer. He claims solar panels are ineffective and argues we need to drill for much more oil underneath the United States."

Given the chance, Trump will roll back President Biden's hard-won progress on America's energy and climate policies. The news outlet Politico expects "an all-out war on climate science and policies — eclipsing even his first-term efforts that brought U.S. climate action to a virtual standstill."

In the meantime, Trump's repeated disinformation about clean energy reveals either a severe learning disability, a compulsion to lie, or a sell-out of America's future to oil and gas. It could be all three. Optimists hope Americans are still bright enough to know bird-brained disinformation when they hear it

We should hope the rest of the world is smart enough, too. Unfortunately, the same study showing that American IQs appear to be slipping found the same is true for people worldwide.