Gas Stove Myths; Leftist Myopia and Projection

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Nearly a year ago, I saw the hype machine revving up against gas stoves, per the following Tweet:

I believe this screenshot from Twitter is protected as Fair Use under U.S. copyright law.
Scary Mommy: Professor Rob Jackson conducted a study that found that gas stoves constantly leak a little methane, even when turned off, and pollute household air with nitrogen oxides, and other dangerous gases, which can damage lungs, especially kids' lungs.

My Reply: Somehow, millions of others and I have survived entire childhoods in houses with gas stoves. But let's ignore that, drop everything, and rip them out because a bunch of ninnies are doing it.

The electric oven quote is par for the course for this idiotic kind of mentality.
See the screen-captured Tweet for the misquote (or slip of the tongue) regarding the fear-based throwing out of a gas oven, on the basis of one scientific study, taken out of context.

Naturally (Hah!), since the right doesn't know how to do anything but ape the left, the developing story of how evil gas stoves supposedly are has turned into the latest "culture war." To hear the right, the feds are coming for your stove, maybe even before your guns, and there is no better way on Earth to cook than a gas stove.

The usual next move these days is for some lefty to assume a condescending tone and debunk all the myths emanating from the right, like farts from cattle. Any legitimate worries can thus be ignored as part of a neat, hysterical package.

And so we have Rebecca Leber of Vox stepping in -- for the greater "good," of course -- to snuff out all those lies and misinformation for us.

And those myths are...
  1. Biden -- or Federal Regulators -- Want to Take Your Gas Stove Away
  2. Gas Stove Hazards Are "Newfound"
  3. No Type of Cooking Can Compare to the Gas Stove
  4. Most of America Uses Gas Stoves
  5. As Long as You Use Ventilation, the Risks Don't Matter
While I don't personally believe any of the above "myths" or know anyone who has spread them, I've heard similar-enough from the right. And they do make a good caricature of the kind of scattershot arguments unprincipled people make when they share too many premises in common with someone basically coming to cash in on said premises.

"Safety" for "the children" (with an undercurrent of a suspicion of capitalism) is a favorite:
The study that caught national attention estimated that almost 13 percent of childhood asthma cases in the US are linked to gas stove use, similar to the level caused by secondhand smoke. That study is based on a review of the evidence from 2013, which examined 41 studies from multiple countries, dating as far back as 1977, to conclude that children living in households with gas stoves had a 42 percent higher risk of currently being diagnosed with asthma and a 24 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with asthma at some point in their life.


Ventilating the kitchen is the only solution we have to lessening exposure to pollutants when the stove or oven is on. But in practice, some hoods don't vent the air outdoors but rather recirculate it inside, or people may be in a small space where pollution builds more quickly. Some issues are behavioral -- like people not even using the hood they have, by neglecting to turn it on. Some of the problem is that not all hoods are capable of filtering out NO2 levels. As journalist Michael Thomas explained, range hoods don't always perform well in the real world. Studies, like at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that code-compliant hoods in California still captured just about half of NO2 pollution. [links omitted, bold added]
My takeaway from the above information? If asthma is a problem in your family, consider an electric stove, or at least make sure you have an over-the-range hood that vents to the outdoors.

And use the range hood.

Practically everyone else assumes that the government, as the nation's wet nurse, should be in charge of everyone's safety, including that of the incompetent and the negligent -- even if that means forcing those of us perfectly capable of using something safely for ourselves and those we care about to do without something that has been used in that manner for at least a century.

Gas stoves, by the way, are much cleaner and safer than open fires and wood stoves, even with the reported problem, but our self-appointed betters either don't know that or don't care -- just like they don't know the difference between a vent (to outdoors) and a (recirculating) fan.

So the best I expect conservatives to muster is a quibble about how we regulate gas stoves, rather than to push back on the whole idea of improper, preventative law, of which the proposed regulations are an example, and for which private efforts would be more effective.

Mention children and rely on common, but long-discredited stereotypes of capitalism being predatory, and today's right has nothing.

But demonizing a proven technology and tightening the regulatory noose are never the end game of the left, and the blind rebellion of the right -- which is correct not to put banning gas stoves or worse past the left -- bears witness to that.

The tell here is that "climate change," that universal, all-causing boogieman of the left, gets mentioned here and there. Gas stoves aren't just unsafe: They leak greenhouse gases.

This is worse to the left, who would rather save "the planet" from humans than improve it for humans.

I have followed this story only to a limited extent after right wing hysteria about diesel exhaust fluid and then diesel shortages taught me not to panic with them. That said, the one thing that lent this story any credibility to me was that the stoves -- which are already banned in new residential construction in some locales in California -- are on the Global Warming %#!+ List.

But then I remembered: Who needs to ban gas stoves when the entire left is working overtime to ban the use of fossil fuels? Look at all the places banning the sale of gasoline cars in the near future: Non-leftists are hardly idiots to think gas stoves (or anything else that burns fossil fuel) could be next.

So, at best, leftists are operating on a threat premise by shouting Gas stoves are unsafe! -- because of a weird laser-focus on an easily-avoided hazard -- when they are actually quite safe, all things considered. We also have an example of the left projecting its own thought process onto dissenters. They seem to think The rabble think they're going to lose their stoves tomorrow, so let's pacify them by assurances about child safety so they'll shut up and let us protect them from themselves.

For that immediate end, the Vox piece passes the test, and makes the left sound wise -- to anyone who can't hold a context and somehow forgets the "climate crisis" it's been hammering into our skulls for decades -- and couldn't keep quiet about for even one article.

But for those of us who can hold a context, this is obvious: If they were to ban fossil fuels altogether, they wouldn't "need" to ban gas stoves.

Reading this Vox piece is like having a beer in the presence of a Baptist preacher: He might not grab that particular drink from your hands right now, and he wouldn't be lying if he said he wouldn't. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't make it imposssible for you to have a beer at all in the future, if he could find a way to bring back Prohibition.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

One thing that struck me about this discussion is the lack of context. Even if gas stoves created a somewhat elevated risk for breathing issues, they mitigate a major risk in much of the country. Heavy snows, ice, and wind can knock power out--and routinely does--in many areas within the USA. I know growing up every neighborhood had one family (or more) with a gas stove so that the neighborhood could cook food should such a thing occur. Gas stoves work via pressure in the pipes and combustion, and thus don't require electricity to operate (at least, not for a LONG time, much longer than the typical power outage).

If we ban gas stoves we remove the ability for people throughout a good portion of the United States to eat during emergencies.

This is something that our culture is really bad at dealing with. We are so safe and affluent that we want to eliminate all risk. This often stems from a desire to protect human life (at least in the general population). However, we're at a point now where the low-hanging fruit has largely been picked, and it's increasingly a question of which risk we'd rather take in a given situation--which is a value judgment, and not something that can be handled via top-down authoritarian policies. If I lived in the North I'd MUCH rather my children have a slightly elevated risk of asthma (which doesn't run in our families) than a greatly elevated risk of going hungry or even freezing to death should the power fail. Folks living in the South would probably make a different calculation. Folks living in rural environments vs urban also will evaluate this differently.

Gus Van Horn said...

Indeed. Our concern with first world problems is rooted in out lack of touch with how we used to have to live (both in terms of having more freedom and seeing the benefits of technological progress) -- and threatens to undo much progress through ill-considered regulations.

Amusing aside: Where I grew up in Mississippi, gas was a lot cheaper than electricity, so we used it for cooking and heating.

I never actually had occasion to use an electric range until I moved into a student apartment with some classmates.

It was so unfamiliar that I was concerned about getting shocked easily when using it.