If you’re one of those smart people who prefers a gas stove to an electric stove for the instant response, greater flexibility and more natural heating effect, you are a planet-destroying monster. Australia’s ABC says “Cooking with gas? Research finds health and emissions risks even when stoves are off”. How bad is it? Well, terrible as usual: “Leaking methane from natural gas-burning stove tops is releasing the greenhouse-gas equivalent of hundreds of thousands of cars, and cooking on gas stovetops is posing a risk to health, according to new research.”
The stoves also give off CO2, horror of horrors. And Eric Worrall chips in that if chemicals scare you, don’t even think of studying what happens to food when it is cooked, with the generation of tongue-twisters like acrylamide and dioxane. But we don’t have to remind you that the science is settled, if only on the proposition that everything is worse than scientists think, thought or will think. “In findings that have taken researchers by surprise, more than three quarters of methane emissions from stovetops were leaking into houses while the appliances were not in use.” So naturally they called upon the world to ban gas stoves entirely as opposed to, say, improving the seals on valves.
This study was done in the United States, and “According to today’s results, gas leaks from stovetop cookers in 40 million homes in the US produced about 28,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, or the equivalent of the emissions from around 500,000 petrol cars.” Zzzzzzzz. Because what the story doesn’t mention is that groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists finger the US for producing 4.7 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions annually. Of which 28,000 is approximately zero percent. (As in 5.9 x 10-4).
We frequently mock the credentials of many journalists covering climate. It’s not because we are snobs; on the contrary we very much favour informed lay people having both opinions and knowledge on everything from chemistry to economics to history. But given the tendency to snarl “you’re not a climate scientist” at anyone who dares raise questions about the orthodoxy, even if they actually are one like Will Happer, we do think it pertinent that so much very obvious scientific nonsense is written on the subject by lay people who seem to have made no effective effort to inform themselves.
In this case “Nick Kilvert, “the online environment reporter in the ABC RN science unit“ has two masters’ degrees but both in journalism. But it’s still odd that it didn’t occur to him to wonder whether 28,000 tonnes of GHGs in the entire United States was peanuts, and do the calculation and tell readers, because he has a Bachelor of Applied Science and some sort of undergraduate “Honours, Ecology” which should have given him some sort of statistical training and feel for numbers.
If so, the further revelation that “The researchers based their projections on the emissions from stovetops from 53 homes across California” might have brought to mind phrases like “not very robust finding” and “extremely small sample”. Instead he dialed up an entirely unbiased “public health physician” who “also works at the Climate Council”, who of all things worried that equity issues meant that more vulnerable individuals and renters may be most impacted” while another totally neutral figure picked at random, “Energy and climate change policy expert Donna Green from UNSW said she wasn’t surprised by the findings, and the fact we’re still burning fossil fuels in our homes ‘is nuts’. ‘We’ll be in shock in decade’s time that we actually did this,’ Associate Professor Green said.”
And there’s a prediction you can print out and save. And set on fire with your gas stove in 2032.