Originally published on January 13, 2023
Calls to ban gas stoves are anti-science, anti-freedom, and anti-energy
Instead of informing us with accurate science about gas stoves so we can make better decisions, anti-fossil fuel activists are distorting science to justify forcing their anti-gas agenda on us.
Early 2023 has featured a carefully orchestrated campaign in which:
- A paper whose lead author is an anti-fossil-fuel activist claims that gas stoves cause 12.7% of child asthma.
- The Federal government and NY proposed bans on new gas stoves.
We should reject this campaign.1
The campaign against gas stoves should be rejected for 3 reasons:
- Families have the right to incorporate any real science about gas stoves as they judge best
- The 12.7% claim is a distortion of science
- The anti-gas movement is a threat to our grid and therefore our health
- Whether and how to use a gas or electric stove should be determined by individuals and families based on what they judge best. For example, many will rationally choose to use a cheaper, more functional gas stove with good ventilation as the best option.
There are many decisions that families make that affect kids’ health far more than a gas vs. electric stove: what kinds of food kids eat, how much exercise they get, and how much money parents allocate to health vs. other expenses.
Do governments then get to dictate all these?
Does anyone have the right to dictate what parents feed their kids, how much exercise kids get, and how much of their money families spend on healthcare?
They only have the right to try to persuade parents with good info and arguments. The same applies to gas stoves.
Whenever someone offers you “science,” not to inform your voluntary choices but to impose a ban on you, you can be confident that what they are calling science is a distortion.
This is certainly the case with the pseudo-precise claim that gas stoves cause 12.7% of child asthma.
Any confident claim that something causes specifically X% of asthma is BS. Asthma is a cluster of symptoms that researchers do not have a clear causal picture of.
As the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states, “The exact cause of asthma is unknown, and the causes may be different from person to person.”2
- Strong evidence stoves are not a leading concern for asthma: In the US, both CA, a state with one of the highest gas stove uses, and ND, a state with one of the lowest gas stove uses, have some of the lowest asthma rates.3
- Observe that CDC data show that between 1980 and the mid-1990s asthma rates almost doubled, despite a significant decline in air pollution. This is an anti-correlation that contradicts the narrative that asthma is mainly caused by pollution.4
Honest scientists recognize that what causes asthma is unknown and might be many factors. Ambient air pollution was long blamed for asthma, but the data for ambient pollution and asthma anti-correlate in Western countries.
The gas stove banners are not honest scientists.
- Despite significant decreases in US ambient air pollution over the last decades, asthma prevalence increased. Without a really precise understanding of all the moving pieces, detailed attribution to things like gas stoves without empirical research is pretentious pseudo-science.5
- The lead author of the paper used to argue for a gas stove ban is affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Institute, headed by Amory Lovins—an anti-energy “energy expert” who has said: “It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy”.6
Opponents of fossil fuels consistently commit the same fallacy: they argue for restrictions or bans on fossil fuels by ignoring the enormous benefits of fossil fuels and catastrophizing fossil fuels’ negative side-effects.
Their latest campaign is focused on life-giving natural gas.
Natural gas is completely crucial to our standard of living and therefore our health. Gas is our leading source of electricity and provides vital energy for heating and for gas stoves.
The anti-gas movement makes us more dependent on electricity that is more expensive and unreliable.7
Observe the trend of the anti-fossil-fuel movement telling us we need to electrify everything and opposing reliable electricity sources.
A crucial protection against this is the right to use non-electric devices: cars, heaters, and stoves. We must fight for this protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest asthma surveillance shows that the most important factors in asthma prevalence are income and ethnicity—with ethnicity likely being another income indicator.
As usual, wealth is health.
Decreasing wealth via anti-fossil-fuel policies is anti-health.8
- Anti-fossil-fuel activists have been jumping on the opportunity to stir up panic about gas stoves. One parroted the “12.7%” fabrication, then ran a viral self-experiment finding emissions above recommended levels. His “solution” is not better ventilation but forcing his agenda.9
- One of the biggest threats to our health is the use of pseudoscientific “health” claims about the side-effects of fossil fuels in order to deprive us of the life-and-health-saving benefits of fossil fuels—including abundant, affordable healthy food and modern medicine.
The proper response to the gas-stove-banners?
Tell them that you are interested in any valid science they want to offer you voluntarily—but that you will fight them to the death when they use pseudoscience to take away our freedom to produce and use energy.
WSJ - Biden Is Coming for Your Gas Stove
New York Post - Gov. Hochul quietly sneaks in proposal to ban sale of gas stoves, fuels outrage across New York↩
NIH - Asthma, Causes and Triggers↩
Statista - Electric or Gas? What the U.S. Is Cooking On↩
CDC - Surveillance for Asthma -- United States, 1960-1995↩
U.S. EPA - Air Quality Trends Show Clean Air Progress↩
Gruenwald et al. (2023) - Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States
Mother Earth News - Amory Lovins: Energy Analyst and Environmentalist↩
Alex Epstein - Electricity Emergency
Alex Epstein - How a fake climate emergency created a real energy emergency
Alex Epstein - The EPA vs. the grid↩
CDC - Asthma Surveillance — United States, 2006–2018↩