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Following the Science on the Hazards of Natural Gas is Rife with Bullshit.
If you live in California and a select few other cities across the country, a ban on natural gas appliances in general is likely coming down the pipe in the future in one form or another. This week’s new cycle may just be a bit boring.
Perhaps the most extreme of the bans comes from the city of San Diego who - on top of bans on natural gas appliances in new buildings - will also require the majority of existing buildings be retrofit by 2035.
This is demanded by their legally-binding 2022 Climate Action Plan (CAP) which we’ve written about previously.
The CAP insists on page 43, “burning natural gas accounts for 20 percent of local GHG emissions through its use to heat our homes, offices and our water.” Then lists a footnote. Curiously the footnote links to an EPA page entitled “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” The link mentions nothing of local GHG emissions instead focusing on totals for the United States as a whole.
Down in the next paragraph, it states. “Furthermore, the use of natural gas has significant effects on indoor air quality and health. Research has shown that homes with gas stoves have 50 to 400% of higher levels of nitrogen dioxide which can cause serious health damage in humans, including respiratory diseases.” That second sentence not only contains a glaring red flag. -that is they failed to specify what or where has lower levels of nitrogen dioxide levels - but it also contains a footnote. This time to a 15 slide presentation from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Slide four of the CARB presentation elaborates a bit but fails to provide a source to any study to back these claims. It actually makes little sense adding next to no additional useful information for the copy in the CAP.
In other words, a significant policy for one of the largest cities in the country is being made off of a few paragraphs citing nonsensical sources.
This not how reasonable governments come up with policies based on science. Public servants taking your hard-earned money, protected by their lack of skin in the game, should always be able to “show their work.” Trying to follow their work in this paragraph alone, which is the driver for significant changes in the lives of over 1.3 million residents, resulted in two almost “dead ends”
“The corporate press has no shame but thanks to social media they also have little resource when called out on their bullshit.“
- Michael Malice
So perhaps readers will understand why we’re incredibly skeptical of this week’s Current Thing on banning natural gas.
As we’ve written about nearly ad-nauseam on Green Leap Forward, the Corporate Press (which by another terms should be labeled *Fiat* Media) seldom accurately reports on energy and climate issues and this is no exception. Expecting the Corporate Press to properly handle truth these days is like expecting an alcoholic to enter a bar and drink only water - it’s nearly impossible. Real journalism, at least in much of the West is largely dead. Actual journalists with a soul are exiting Fiat Media and going off on their own. Normal people, of all political perspectives, thanks to this decentralization of media are able to call out the fraud when needed too.
Seeing the Corporate Press cry and scream over the success of independent journalism is a sign their grift is slowly becoming less influential. To quote Michael Malice again, “The battle is won when the average person regards a corporate journalist exactly as they do a tobacco executive.”
The Current Thing narrative is right now laser-focused on the alleged hazards of using the substance as a cooking gas whereas above also includes gas furnaces, clothes dryers, and water heaters.
In Nattylighting we explored the so-called study “Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States, “ and we regret to inform you Dear Reader: this study is worse than we initially thought.
For one, the Washington Post wrote an even worse article than Boston.com.
On January 6th, as part of their Climate 202 Newsletter, they published an article with the authoritative title, “Gas stove pollution causes 12.7% of childhood asthma, study finds.” From there they assert that most definitely, 12.5 percent of childhood asthma is from those darned natural gas stoves. The actual study uses nowhere near such an authoritative tone.
But for WaPoo, there is no doubt about this. Of course just like the Boston.com article, the reassure the reader it’s peer reviewed, as any Follow The Science Maximalist knows is the gold standard for a study. Much like the Boston.com piece, the important nuance that this was a meta-study is missing.
They either don’t understand what a meta-study actually is or they’re intentionally trying to talk up the study as if the researchers actually did something more than a meta-study.
The authors relied on 2019 Census data to determine the proportion of children exposed to pollution from gas stoves. They borrowed their methodology from a 2018 analysis that found 12.3 percent of childhood asthma cases in Australia were attributable to gas cooking ranges, and they used data from a 2013 analysis that found children in households with gas stoves were 42 percent more likely to experience asthma symptoms.
Joshua Rauth at Stanford University picked up on this meta-analysis issue as well and went into greater detail on this thread.
Tldr: the study’s bullshit.
To add insult to injury, or perhaps to pipe up the panic, the Washington Post took a statement from one of the study’s researchers, a certain Brady Seals with the activist anti-nuclear organization Rocky Mountain Institute (we also mentioned them in the previous piece). Seals asserted:
“It’s [natural gas stoves/cooking] like having car exhaust in a home, and we know that children are some of the people spending the most time at home, along with the elderly.”
We question exactly what chemistry courses Ms. Seals took when she was studying for her B.A in Globalization Studies at Gettysburg College. Or perhaps she picked some up when she did her MBA at the University of South Dakota.
The study itself gets exposed to even more bullshit detectors:
Why all the Twitter threads? Because these folks could, with next to zero effort (just as we did in the previous piece) pick apart the flaws in this latest grift.
It’s not just this one recent study that’s flawed either, nor is it the whatever the hell that CARB slides used to “inform” the San Diego Climate Action Plan authors either.
The “science” of the hazards of natural gas combustion in the home is laden with poor studies.
Setting policies based on this study is just as absurd and anti-scientific as setting San Diego’s natural gas bans on the inaccurate sources they claimed to cite.
The systematic racism piece is still coming.