I'm announcing: I Quit Gas!
a fired-up campaign to fight the fossil fuel industry and reclaim our health and climate commitments!
So, a few months back I wrote a long post on why experts are telling us to get rid of our gas stove. The idea that cooking with gas is a travesty to our health, to the planet and to our budget 😳 shocked a lot of you 🙀, and you asked that I go extra to educate more. So here I am. Australia’s Climate Council and I have joined forces on a straight-to-it campaign that we figured we’d call “I Quit Gas”.1
Which is a kind of play on the fact that “I quit…I Quit Sugar” (and gave all $$ to charity; although the business still runs, with lovely new owners!) and that, hey, with all the free time I now have perhaps I could turn my care to another dastardly duping by global giants who put profit before our wellbeing and planet!
The aim of this campaign is to arm you with information to quit gas in your home ASAP (easy and cheap/free hacks) and also provide a mechanism for getting government to take action on our behalf.
We don’t muck around!
We make it super simple and effective for everyone.
And, as per below, NO ONE, is coming for your kitchen, NO ONE is banning gas stoves nor will anyone be telling you to do anything expensive or wasteful. Cool?
In this post I’m going to focus on explaining how the hell we got duped into thinking gas cooking was safe and wound up in this position. But first, how about a recap on what I’ve shared so far.
The 8 things to know
Here, a bit of a summary of of what we covered in my previous post You Cook with Gas? and what I’ve been drip-feeding into the socials so far:
What we need to do: Electrify Everything! Which is to say, switch out gas for electric appliances wherever and whenever you can:
gas stove for induction
gas heaters for reverse-cycle air conditioners
gas water heaters for heat pumps
Children living in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to have asthma.
A kid living with gas cooking in the home faces a comparable risk of asthma to a child living with household cigarette smoke.
Natural gas = methane, which is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term.
Switching to electric saves you up to $1,900 a year. The Climate Council has a clever widget for working out your exact savings in your home which you can find on the I Quit Gas site we’ve created…
The cost of buying new electric appliances like induction stoves can be recouped in as little as five years, the Climate Council says.
You’re a renter? Or you can’t rip out your kitchen right now? Buy a portable induction stove for as little as $50….look out for a video I’ll be sharing on IG later this week!
So now everyone is caught up, I want to backtrack and explain how and why we we all became so convinced gas cooking (and gas water heaters and heating) was the best bet. How buildings world-wide were converted to gas. Why all the sexy chefs cooked with it and extolled its virtues. And why the truth was withheld…
The gas industry has been royally duping us
As I say in the previous post, so much of this gas issue reminds me of the I Quit Sugar “fight” from 12 years ago. When I developed that campaign, it was about highlighting the health impact of sugar, then the climate and social issues, and then, once everyone had dealt with these direct blows, exposing why we’d been duped into eating so much sugar in the first place. This step is key. Otherwise we - everyday humans doing our best - are left thinking we should have known better, that we are remiss in some way.
To run a re-information campaign, we have to be personally affected, we have to be shown how we can start to make direct change, and then we have to get answers!!!
With sugar, Big Food withheld science, produced misinformation (for example, the whole Calories In Calories Out was a scientifical furphy planted by Big Soda; I wrote about it for The Guardian some time back), and pumped out campaigns to keep us addicted and confused. Big Tobacco did the same for decades. And now we’re learning Big Gas is also in on the act, our cooktops - very specifically - their ammunition.
It started with “Natural Gas”
What does this even mean?! No one knows. It’s merely a term confected by the fossil fuel industry in the 1930s.
Then it was “Now you’re cookin’ with gas.”
Where did such a line (meaning, “Hey, you're on the right track, making progress!”) come from, I wonder? Oh, from the fossil fuel industry once again, specifically via a publicist for the American Gas Association in the early 1940s.
Big Gas then used influencers - comedians, actors even Daffy Duck - to spread the word. Marlene Dietrich, paid by Pennsylvania People’s Natural Gas Company, spruiked, “Every recipe I give is closely related to cooking with gas. If forced, I can cook on an electric stove but it is not a happy union.”
And on and on it went, right up to the current day. Mother Jones reported in 2020 on how The Gas Industry Is Paying Instagram Influencers to Gush Over Gas Stoves. The New York Times has reported on how Big Gas pays representatives to disguise themselves as gas stove-loving neighbors in Nextdoor groups, advocating against gas hookup bans.
Then there are the hot handy man TV stars paid to do the same, as reported by the New York Times last year.
The gas industry has also worked aggressively with legislatures in every US state that has tried to enact cleaner building codes …and has won in every instance.
Meanwhile, they withheld the science
Newly discovered documents reveal that the American Gas Association was studying the health and indoor pollution risks from gas stoves as far back as the early 1970s — that they knew much more, at a far earlier date, than has been previously documented. But hid it.
Sugar, tobacco, gas = Same playbook.
The “Now they’re coming for your kitchen!” 🙄 culture war
You might have caught this one earlier this year? It started when that research about the link between gas stoves and childhood asthma (see above) came out. Asked for reaction, the head of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said, “Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” The White House confirmed no one was going to ban gas cookers, people, but the Right Wing commentariat went feral regardless. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted out a modified Gadsden flag—with a gas stove over the words “Don’t Tread on Florida.”, a celebrity chef chained himself to his stove.
This local podcast explains it all really well. And it’s only 12 minutes.
And, yep, the same tactics could be used here in Australia
Australia’s Opposition Leader Peter Dutton chimed in with the same “They’re coming for your oven” line in January. Sigh. I’ve been doing a bit of media this week and so far it’s been received…calmly.
Although The Daily Mail couldn’t help themselves and referenced “banning gas stoves” twice, even though in my interview they reference I specifically state this is not and will not be happening anywhere any time soon:
“Sarah Wilson, known for her best-selling 2012 book I Quit Sugar, is the face of Climate Council's new 'I Quit Gas' campaign, which calls for a ban on the use of gas-powered household appliances.”
“However, many experts believe banning gas appliances could create an even worse outcome for the environment, depending on how the electricity is produced.”
So let’s get armed and be aware of the various tactics that might be rolled out.
Know this: Gas companies like to say their clean energy claims are backed by science. But…
They fail to mention the science is fossil fuel-funded. Yeah, that old one.
In response to a similar “switch to electric” campaign in the US, the gas industry has been running ads and editorial that says it’s a clean energy option, wholly run and funded by the fossil fuel industry, as the Guardian and Floodlight reported in June 2022. An analysis by HEATED shows that every study cited is published by an organization with significant financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.
Know this: The more we talk about it the less pull Big Gas will have
The argument is sometimes made that gas cooking is a small-fry 😜 issue in the scheme of the climate broiling fight. And, indeed, Big Gas has made this argument. But it’s Big Gas’s very focus on gas cooking (making it sexy etc) that makes this I Quit Gas campaign so important.
As Bloomberg reported recently, “Gas cooking [seems] likely to be the biggest obstacle to the effort to electrify the… home in the name of slowing climate change.” Why’s that? Mainly because gas is one of the few energy uses that inspires brand loyalty.
Emily Aiken (from HEATED) says gas stoves are the plastic straws of the emissions debate. She writes they are both a symbol of the bigger problem, and, just as straws got us talking plastic, gas stoves will get us talking fossil fuels.
Is she right?
So what now?
I know you will want to act straight up.
Share this post and my #IQuitSugar Instagram and Facebook posts. Feel free to copy and paste the info here and in the early post and do your own content. You have my permission!
Go to the I Quit Gas site for all answers to common questions.
Post any extra questions below and I’ll do an IG LIVE next week with one of the Climate Council scientists and have all of your questions across all of the platforms answered!
Sign the pledge and our open letter to the Australian Government that will be sent on everyone’s behalf. Climate Council will use these signatures to push for governments to support households make the switch by providing zero interest loans and to get rid of current legislative impediments.
Let’s fire this good thing up! Yes?
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We have received funds to do this information campaign. This funding includes paying a team to complete a national poll, research and content production.