Turning Down the Heat on Gas Stove Culture Wars
The latest fire in the culture war ignited when a government official suggested the possibility of banning gas stoves. Republicans quickly took to social media to proclaim their love for the household appliance, while environmentalists were left trying to explain the nuance of another long-term goal. Andy convenes a group of experts to cut through partisan politics in order to get facts, reasonable opinions, and alternative options. Vox climate reporter Rebecca Leber explains why the gas stove has become a status symbol over the past century and what climate implications come along with it. Then, Dr. Aaron Bernstein at the Harvard School of Public Health explains the health implications and ways to mitigate those risks without having to give up your stove immediately.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Read Rebecca’s article, “How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves”: https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/06/how-the-fossil-fuel-industry-convinced-americans-to-love-gas-stoves/
- Read Aaron’s tips on how to lower your risk if you have a gas stove: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/11/well/live/gas-stoves-health-risks.html
- Find out which states use gas stoves the most: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2020/state/pdf/State%20Appliances.pdf
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Andy Slavitt, Ari Bernstein, Rebecca Leber
Andy Slavitt 00:18
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Email me, we’ve got a new email address, write it down. firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me a dad joke. Send me something interesting. Tell me what you think of our shows, give us story ideas. You know, we talked about a lot of really important issues on in the bubble. You know, we hope to take issues that are creating headlines and scaring us and break them down to some understandable facts so we could all be thoughtful about them. We talked about the pandemic, a lot. Inflation, the climate, we went through productive rights, anti semitism rising again, racism, the plight of women in Afghanistan, January 6, school shootings, you name the tough topic, we’ve covered it. So, you know, things are changing a bit when what breaks through the news cycle, is a controversy over gas stoves, gas stoves, if you haven’t been following is sort of the latest culture war story. And I would just want to remark that these are the kinds of things that we used to consider controversies before the days of Donald Trump, you know, before a man walked out, down an escalator and said, the people coming over the southern border, we’re all criminals. And our meter for what we talked about went off the deep end in social media. You know, these were the kinds of petty little arguments and conversations that we used to have. And to refresh what happened here. And the administration official said something to the effect of gas stoves are dangerous, and we ought to consider as a consumer protection, a series of things to make sure they’re safer, including potentially banning them in new construction is what he was referring to. And look, all of what he said was true. off what he said is true, and been known for a long time gas stoves present a lot of danger, particularly to people in small apartments. It’s not particularly safe, it’s particularly good for the environment, it’s a kind of thing you ought to be able to talk about, you know, he had said something it rile people up. And what it particularly riled up was an outrage machine that has gotten a bit of practice recently, it’s gotten practice talking about light bulbs, remember that we’re going to they’re going to take your light bulbs they’re gonna take, they’re gonna stop you from eating hamburgers, they’re going to stop you from driving the car you want to drive. And this is fine response, if indeed, it were true. And look, I think the people who say it believe that there is potentially some threat here, but I think they don’t answer proportionally. And what they end up doing is taking anybody that wants to talk about anything that’s a slightest bit of an environmental, or health or equity issue or diversity issue. And rather than just say, putting it down and saying we don’t like it, they instead go on offense and try to throw the people who are trying to make a point in the defense by saying that they’re trying to steal some freedom that we all have. And that just makes a dialogue, very difficult to have. And so what I want to do on this show, is I want to talk a little bit about what actually going on with gas stoves, which should, you know, separate the fact from all the noise. And then I do want to talk about this whole idea of a different type of pollution of polluting the discourse with this kind of like over hyperbolized attacks that make it very difficult for people who are in the scientific community who want to make a point, they want to share some data about health effects with you. So I have two great people on the episode. Dr. Harry Bernstein, is indeed someone who studies these issues in great detail. He’s Interim Director of climate, health and global environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. No, you should not be suspicious of him just because he has Harvard near his name. He’s a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and he’s the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He focuses on the health impact of the climate crisis and children’s health and advancing solutions to address its causes. So let’s hear what he has to say. He’ll give us some facts. And then we also have with us Rebecca Lieber, who covers climate for Vox and she is been reporting on this story, and particularly how people market gas quote unquote natural gas and how this all affects us and her investigations into fossil fuel disinformation. And climate obstacles have exposed a lot of interesting things behind the scenes over time. So she’s really smart about this topic. So we’re gonna get into it. And listen in. I think you’ll find it fascinating.
Andy Slavitt 05:19
Rebecca, welcome to the podcast. Ari, welcome to the bubble. Good to have you. So the outrage machine is in high gear over the gas stove. And let me play some of the outrage that’s making its way around. A lot of this is on conservative media. But let’s play a little montage of what’s being said. But let’s start with the ground truth. Okay. For people who might actually be interested in the ground truth about gas stoves, and what they do and what they don’t do. Let’s begin there before we dig into this notion of whether or not people want to take them away from us. And let’s start with the health effects of a gas stove. Ari, let’s start with you. Tell us what, what actually a gas stove does in our house, and what the health effects might be, too against off.
Ari Bernstein 07:10
So gas stoves are really great for cooking, they do a fine job. That’s not all they do. And I think it does come as a surprise to folks that when you burn gas, it creates air pollution. That’s not particularly news. We’ve known that for decades and decades and decades. The kinds of pollutants that come out are several, we’ve known for a long time that this stuff called Nox, or particularly nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen attached at the hip to two oxygen atoms comes out. And it’s been known for decades that nitrogen dioxide is bad for lungs. It also looks like it’s pretty bad for hearts. It also looks like it’s probably bad for brains. But primarily people worry about the lungs. And people have asked how much of this nitrogen dioxide comes out when you turn on a stove. And if you have a relatively small kitchen that doesn’t have any ventilation, so there’s like no windows or doors, you don’t have your vent going, the concentrations of that can get pretty high meaning above what we know will cause harm to your lungs pretty fast, like under an hour. Turns out that’s not the only problem. We’ve done research colleagues of mine have done research showing that there’s something like in New England, we found like 21 other toxic substances that are being piped into our homes through our gas lines, which ain’t shocking, but I think we’ve got more homework to do. But there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t want in your body coming in through gas stoves.
Andy Slavitt 08:39
Okay, so that sounds like a very reasoned explanation. Yeah, well, essentially, we have a gas pipeline that finishes in our own homes. And if you turn it down, you get the gas coming out. And as people have been saying, for a while, there are some health issues with that, Rebecca, what’s the reason to point of view in your mind about how to think about these health hazards? And I want to get to the environmental effects separately, right after this, but if just focusing on the health effects, how is this news to be interpreted by people who seriously just want to understand what this all means?
Rebecca Leber 09:20
This isn’t a one size fits all problem, which is why I think that this is this is difficult to communicate. It can depend on your kitchen and your home. It can depend on whether you have rangehood that vents that dirty air outdoors or you have no fan at all. It also there’s different risk factors for who is most vulnerable to this kind of pollution. So there was that recent report that came out linking nitrogen dioxide from gas stoves to asthma in children and the children especially the doctor on the podcast. come speak once more to the children are especially at risk. And the one thing that I hear again and again that I just encourage people who are concerned for their own health, their own family’s health is if they have a gas stove, and they’re stuck with it for now, then definitely think about your ventilation. If you have a range hood, please turn it on. And if you have a window, you can open that. So just improving that ventilation can be really important. This is something like Ari just stated, this is something that has been clear in the science for years now. And I think the public is just becoming aware of these problems. But essentially, we are burning these many fossil fuel plants in our home and, and not just from the stove, but from other appliances too, like our furnaces or boilers. So I’m glad this is a conversation that we’re having. I just wish it was a more reasoned one. And the clips you were playing of the conservative backlash that I think mis portrays what the actual concerns are.
Andy Slavitt 11:07
I want to pick up on how you said what you said. You said if you’re stuck with a gas stove. Now, is it also case that people like gas stoves, I mean, chefs like gas stoves, people like gas stoves. So isn’t it that what people are objecting to is this assumption that they can’t choose to have a gas stove if they like it?
Rebecca Leber 11:27
Yeah, this is a really emotionally charged debate. I’ve dug into this quite a bit of why people are so emotionally attached to the stove. I think it has this status symbol in our culture. And I’ll get to why people sometimes don’t have a choice here. But there are people out there who want to cook on gas. And I think it’s been equated with this superior way of cooking and almost this fashionable icon of the kitchen. What I’ve dug into is how much marketing underlies that symbol we have today that dates back a century, even the phrase cooking with gas that people use for all types of comments, that was an industry invention. And they fed that line to the comedian of the time, Bob Hope to use in a routine. So kidding. There’s other examples of gas utilities, hiring celebrities in the 50s and 60s to promote the gas stove as a clean way of cooking of the future. We have a modern equivalent of gas utility trade groups hiring Instagram influencers to promote the gas stove. So I think what people sometimes miss when we talk about the superiority of the gas stove is how much marketing is behind that. But I wanted to answer that other part of the question for people who don’t have a choice. There are a lot of people who are stuck with gas stoves because they live in a city that is reliant on gas and already has these pipelines set into their homes, they might be a renter, I’m a renter, I have gas, and you don’t have much control in that situation. But I would like to like flip this on its head that for the same reason, it’s hard for people to suddenly switch to induction because of a variety of economic factors. Some people don’t want to cook with gas, but they’re stuck with it because we have this infrastructure built out for the gas industry.
Andy Slavitt 13:28
So Ari, let’s say you have a guest of and for whatever reason you want to keep it either you have no choice, as Rebecca pointed out, or you like it, or you’ve been brainwashed enough by the industry that you don’t know why you like it, but you do like it. Talk to us about safe ways to have a gas stove are there safe ways or are you destined to have childhood asthma and all kinds of effects from these kind of very noxious elements that you’re releasing in your home?
Ari Bernstein 13:59
So there’s lots that people can do that is relatively low cost, no cost and not hard. So certainly as Rebecca mentioned, if you have a hood or some kind of vent for your you know cooktop, use it be mindful that some of them may have been installed so that the air gets pushed back indoors.
Andy Slavitt 14:21
So look where it’s venting, see if it’s venting somewhere outside ideally.
Ari Bernstein 14:25
Ideally, if you don’t have that then you know if the weather is conducive opened a door or window and or use a fan. The name of the game here is air movement and preferably fresh air movement in from outside in.
Andy Slavitt 14:41
Sounds a lot like the COVID device we’re getting.
Ari Bernstein 14:43
Sounds a lot like the COVID device, which raises an important point and some people may wonder you know that air purifier I bought for COVID Can I use that to protect myself against gas right? So unfortunately, nox is a gas No. And most of the So most of those aren’t probably not going to do much for that. It’s not that they won’t be ineffective to other pollutants that may be coming out of stove, but it probably is not going to do much. So you really want to dilute, you want to dilute the concentration of stuff in the air, I say, don’t use your stove more than you need to reduce other sources of indoor air pollution. So I think it’s important to remember that, you know, again, depending upon how big your stove is, how much use it how big your part is, you know, you may or may not be getting exposed too much. But I can guarantee you there are other sources of indoor air pollution your house whether that’s a fireplace that isn’t well ventilated, incense burning air fresheners turns out that a lot of homes, the number one source of indoor air pollution are things we buy, and bring into the house that have chemicals that, you know, emits they’re called volatile chemicals, they just emit off the surface. Like what I mean everything from perfumes and nail polish to home air fresheners, these like plug in air fresheners, I as a pediatrician, I parents always done when I when I, you know, ask parents kids have asthma, like you know, and it’s about what they’re being exposed to. They’re using air fresheners because they think it makes the air smell good. And I said it’s also you know, hitting your kids lungs. So trying to reduce other sorts of indoor pollution can also be a good idea. But you know, minimizing exposure is the name of the game.
Andy Slavitt 16:20
Well, anybody who knows me really well knows that nail polish remover is like the bane of my existence for whatever reason, if someone’s using nail polish remover, it drives me absolutely bananas, I can barely tolerate it, I have to leave the county when I smell that.
Ari Bernstein 16:38
I think you’ve just given us a great insight deep into your psyche, Andy.
Andy Slavitt 16:41
deep into my psyche. Okay, let’s take a quick break. And then let’s come back and talk about how this blew up in the first place in the new sector. So what I’m hearing is use the hood, and open doors and windows, if you can. And I think the thing that I learned as well was, you know, we I turn on the hood, if I’m cooking something that creates a lot of smoke, like a meat. I’m citing some vegetables. Well, what I’m hearing is even if I’m just boiling water, to make tea, still to turn on the bed that I did not know. That is new news. For me. That’s the kind of valuable information that you will not get on Fox News, outrageous screaming. The other thing that it admits by the way, besides nitrogen dioxide is methane. So, Ari, will you tell us about the climate effects that come from the gas over the come from the methane emission?
Ari Bernstein 18:01
Sure. So you know, it’s also not scientific news that methane is a greenhouse gas, just like carbon dioxide. It’s more potent than carbon dioxide. And it’s also shorter lived in the atmosphere, which is one of the reasons why it’s gotten a lot of attention recently. If we can curb methane emissions, fast, we can actually stave off some of the more high end projections of climate change, which is why so much attention I think has focused on gas in the recent year plus. So absolutely, if you’re going to deal with climate focusing on methane makes a lot of sense. I think it’s important to come back to a point you made Andy though, which is that, it turns out that you don’t just get methane. You can’t burn any fossil fuel with just getting the greenhouse gas, and some for ICIT. I’m often asking the question, let’s just not think about the warming let’s think about health and health equity. And that’s absolutely true with these stoves. If you think about the people, you know, we were talking about earlier, Rebecca said the people who are stuck, you know, folks who hear this, and they’ve got money, a lot of folks, they don’t care as much about gas as their lungs and their brains. So they’re running out to the store and buying an induction cooktop. But there are a lot of folks who can’t do that. And they tend to be in lower health communities, they tend to be in the communities that have been over polluted historically, they are near industrial sites. And so I think about if we’re going to focus on methane, let’s focus on getting the greatest health gains to the people who will benefit the most first. And by the way, just taking the methane issue and the methane issue in the case of gas stoves really brings the climate issue into the home in a very powerful way. We found I think three or four years ago that in the United States, the air pollution generated from fossil fuels from burning it is now greater from burning methane than from coal. So to Rebecca’s point earlier, natural gas had this sort of aura of cleanliness. And sure it’s cleaner than coal, like, let’s be fair. But let’s make no mistake that it is benign. And in terms of mortality from fossil fuel use in our states, which some people estimate is on the order of 300,000 people a year from burning fossil fuels, which is staggering to me, because that’s a lot better. Because the air quality’s gotten better. Over the last four decades, thank you Clean Air Act, most of that may be coming now from burning gas, you know, not in homes as much as in power plants.
Andy Slavitt 20:31
So if you care about climate, put aside the health questions, if you say, you know, I like my gas stove, but I care about the climate, then I think this news tells you that if you can afford to replace your gas stove, and I think we should take Gary’s point that this is a privilege that not everybody has, you are contributing to greenhouse gases, with a gas stove. And if and if that’s important to you, if you are the kind of person that’s switching to electric powered vehicles and other things, but you still have a gas stove, that’s a good thing to catch, because you can really improve your carbon footprint, not your carbon footprint, your fossil fuel footprint, because it’s not carbon, it’s methane, by doing that. And that’s, that’s just I think, the other relevant point and look, as far as I’m concerned, that’s not a controversial statement. That’s just as hey, many people care about the climate, many people would find that information, sufficient to want to make them make a different choice or to make a community or a building to make a different choice. So let’s go back to where this all started. Richard Trumka administration official who’s charged of looking consumer safety issues, was quoted in a Bloomberg article, I want to play a clip for you now of a recent TV appearance where he said something similar. Okay, let’s just evaluate. And let’s criticize a public official who makes a comment. I mean, let’s, that’s fair game, I was a public official, people were free to like or not, like, what I said, or how I said it. What do we think about his comments? Were they outrageous, unreasonable, provocative, fair minded, thoughtful? How do you take it Ari?
Ari Bernstein 22:28
I mean, the way I look at this problem is that we know gas stoves emit stuff that’s bad for kids lungs, we’ve got enough kids with asthma as it is, we need to do we you know, and we have technology that is, you know, by every standard, including by most professional cooks these days, completely adequate to replace. So, these stoves are gonna go, like, you know, and the issue is, they’re gonna go for the wealthiest communities first.
Andy Slavitt 22:57
I think, either they’re gonna see massive increases in gas stove sales, if you want to know my opinion, in the near term, from people who’ve turned this into a symbol, I don’t agree that they’re gonna go for reasons I think we’ll discuss common sense no longer prevails, what you said is perfectly reasonable. But let’s talk about what we just heard. Rebecca, you heard the same comments from Richard Trumka. How do you hear them? And how do you think others heard them?
Rebecca Leber 23:23
What surprised me about these comments was the Consumer Product Safety Commission had said in December that it was going to take a look at the science around health risks for gas stoves. This is actually something that’s been going on a while now, where cities and states and public health agencies have been looking at the overwhelming science here and considering what they should do. So what was I think remarkable about these comments was by saying the they were considering a ban, I think it set off this backlash before the agency had done anything. So they were so early in this process, that they haven’t even had public hearings, they would accept public comment along the way, this would be a long process to actually getting to any kind of regulation, let alone a ban. And the ban itself of the range of options that they could consider was maybe less likely that ban, of course, which they’ve already taken off the table would only apply to new appliances. And I think the conservative media has really ran with this idea that Biden was going to rip out gas stoves from existing buildings. So I think what’s missed in in those remarks and what the CPSC has since strain to clarify is that they’re looking at a range of options and the range of regulations could include something like health warnings.
Andy Slavitt 24:54
Yeah, well, look, I think you said something important there, Rebecca, which is he talked about the array of tools. And when he was referring even to a ban, while it sounded to people, like people could read in that maybe whatever they want to be fair, but what he was talking about was, as we have new construction, let’s make sure that we’re putting things in New Britain, the new construction that are going to be safe for kids safe for families, better for the environment, a perfectly reasonable concept to raise and a conversation to raise. So out well, I think, you know, I would I would register with the set as a baby a one to two to a three and the controversy scale. But I would say there is some controversy, because he did use the word ban, which is subsequently walked back. The reaction to that wasn’t a two or three let’s play. Comments from a congress person who also happens to be a physician, was a White House […], the good Ronnie Jackson? So Ari, what do you think is the good doctor Ronnie Jackson, straight with the facts.
Ari Bernstein 26:17
With all due respect to Dr. Jackson, I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about. There’s absolutely a difference in the kind of cooking styles. I mean, if you cooked over charcoal, or wood, let me tell you, there are real health problems that come with that kind of cooking modality. Gas may be cleaner than that, but suggest that it’s better than electric is also not based in any facts I’ve ever seen. So you know, you can make such statements in great confidence. But I would argue that there’s a there’s an abundance of scientific literature that shows that gas stoves do produce air pollutants known to cause harm and at concentrations that are known to be harmful. And I wish it were otherwise.
Andy Slavitt 26:59
Alright, let’s take a final break. And then let’s come back and dig into the culture war. And why issues like this become so powerful with conservative media. And why this is not something that’s just original, but it’s part of a bigger playbook. We’ve left the zone of the rational. Now we have Jim Jordan, who tweeted God, guns and gas stoves. So this is squarely now a cultural issue. And anybody think this is in an original play, what we heard at the beginning of our segment today, the sort of outrage that’s playing in conservative media, that’s something that’s been done before, and approved to show that I want to go back and play a clip from someone that people may hear may remember named Michelle Bachman, she was a congresswoman from Minnesota, talking about a slightly different type of let’s play that clip of Michelle Bachman. So what we heard from she didn’t quite become president Bachmann, if I remember history correctly. But we did hear at the very beginning of the Montage. The last clip was from Ron DeSantis, who seems to be running for president and under Michelle Bachman platform. Let’s have more gas stoves. Let’s have tax breaks for gas stoves. And this is part of what I want to talk about next, which is this sort of new mode of operating. It’s not so new. But it’s been this this playbook, which says the way to best confront people who want to talk about climate change and want to talk about climate policy is not to defend these items, but it’s to go on offense. It’s to go on offense and say that the government is trying to take away your large sodas, your light bulbs, your hamburgers, your automobiles, and two people who get their news from only one source and you end up in the place where or it becomes nearly impossible to have a reasoned conversation about things that may be good for people’s health, or maybe good for our planet. So, Ari, when I say to you before, I think we may see an increase in gas stoves, it’s because I think ignorance is more powerful than information sometimes.
Ari Bernstein 30:21
Well, I hear you’re saying it. I mean, certainly when we’ve seen, for example, gun reform measures, you see surges in gun sales, people are worried. And to your point earlier, if this becomes a cultural Flashpoint, people might choose to use this is a way to show their solidarity with an ideology. But you know, I think to me, and this is particularly as a pediatrician, you know, we can bemoan the state of dialogue, and we can talk about how awful it is that no one on any political divide has any reasonable conversation anymore. Or we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do about it? And, and it’s hard. You know, I have family that are devout opposites of me in the political spectrum. And I’m, I would say, I’m relatively centrist, especially in the cosmos these days. But these are folks who are very, very polarized. And I found time and again, that it takes personal trusted relationships, we saw some COVID. So people are much more likely to trust their primary care doc, the person they knew over some person who was even their state official, and certainly the CDC. I think health messages are incredibly powerful communicated through the right person. Are they perfect? No. But it turns out that there are really very few people who don’t do things to protect their children’s health. At the end of the day, I found that to be more often true than not, are we doing a good job? Do we have the right messengers? We need to do better? There’s no question.
Andy Slavitt 31:46
Rebecca, how to bring you back into this. How do you see it?
Rebecca Leber 31:49
So I’m looking actually at some stats of gas stoves throughout the country. And what’s interesting is you can have Governor DeSantis say, this is a culture war and say we’re going to sell more gas. But for Florida, for example, I’m looking at an Energy Information Agency survey from 2020 on gas appliances, and Florida’s 92% electric cooking and just 8% gas.
Andy Slavitt 32:19
Oh my god DeSantis is losing, he’s losing the battle.
Rebecca Leber 32:22
I think when we talk about this culture war, it’s important to keep in mind that gas is distributed differently throughout the country. And what’s interesting is some of the most reliant states on gas and particularly gas for cooking, are New York and California. And they already have maybe not regulations underway, but they are looking at electrification of new buildings already. So a lot of this fight comes down to the infrastructure that supports gas. It’s not just about whether people are going to go out and get the gas, though, because they need a pipeline, they need to get that gas from somewhere. So maybe that like, it’s a glimmer of hope, when we’re looking at all this rhetoric that politicians tend to be from states that don’t really rely on gas.
Andy Slavitt 33:10
Interesting. That’s fascinating fact. Look, I live here in California. And look, I think the gas stove is going to become like the private plane. Like I think really wealthy people will have these old gas stoves that burn a ton of gas and are super exotic. And like we’ve been talking about conservatives, there’s you know, I look, I think liberals have their own form of weird relationship with climate, I think it’s a lot healthier than the sort of conservative stream of things. But there are plenty of people who, in their own lives don’t really want to sacrifice I’m sure I was I happen to be at home with a bunch of people in San Francisco when this sort of story was breaking. And, you know, the person next to me, who we taught who had just been talking about all the work they do in climate and how important climate investing is, and changing the planet, said, but some things are sacred, and cooking in a gas stove is one of them. But putting that to the side for a second, as we close it on this, you know, I go back to something that Donald Trump said over the course of the election. And He almost said it as an aside, when he looked at a poll that showed that he was doing very well among non-college educated voters. And not so well among college educated voters. He said, I love the uneducated. And that line sticks with me. Because I feel like what Ronnie Jackson, and Tucker Carlson and Fox News and others are saying is, you don’t want to hear these facts. Don’t pay attention to these facts, because these facts will lead to someone stealing your freedom. And people like you Ari who say look, there’s a very reasonable point of view. There’s facts here we can actually make people healthier, and change things for the better. That you instantly will get tagged in labeled as someone trying to steal someone’s idea of freedom. I don’t think you’re trying to steal someone’s idea of freedom. But maybe you maybe you aren’t. What do you think?
Ari Bernstein 35:08
That’s not a label I’ve been given lately to my knowledge. But, you know, your point is well taken, Andy. But you know, I think if you look at this issue that you raise a little more deeply, in some ways, we’re seeing a lot of fear, we’re seeing a lot of people who are very afraid. And in some cases, they have insight. And a lot of cases they don’t, but the freedom thing, I think people are really afraid about changes that are happening that they may not understand. And this is not a healthy response, necessarily. But if you try and get to the base of it, you might get some more progress. But I still think the health conversation is a good one to get us there.
Andy Slavitt 35:45
It’s a great one. And what you say is very interesting, because what it tells me is, people who fear, immigration, or they fear becoming a minority in this country are they fear are essentially fearing many respects, things are being told to fear. But of course, taps into something, some anxiety, some insecurity. And if you can attach a gas stove to guns and God, then you can perhaps get people to feel that same emotion. Rebecca, as we if we closed down, I want to touch on one other thing. The inflation Reduction Act that was passed by the Congress and signed by President Biden last year, did contain a number of incentives for people to do things like use electric heat pumps, which are a much, much greener, efficient way of heating your home. You know, they were positive incentives, they weren’t actually punishing anybody who didn’t use them. But they were trying to make them more affordable. And as we’ve talked about, on this show a number of occasions, the way to actually get scale climate change is to be able to scale the production. And to do that you need to subsidize at the beginning. But that is also getting kind of painted as well, look Biden’s trying to do. He’s coming after your gas stove.
Rebecca Leber 37:07
Yeah, the Biden administration has been really clear, they are not interested in banning the gas stove. But what they are doing is using voluntary incentives that were passed under the inflation Reduction Act. This is a mix of tax credits, and rebates to lower the costs of all kinds of electrification of the home, which can also apply to getting an induction stove, especially for low income consumers under 80% of the median area income, they can potentially get a rebate to cover all the cost of some of their electrification upgrades. This is very different from punishing people for having a gas stove. And it’s also not just an argument that someone who wants to do something in their household about climate change and their own health should, should take advantage of these. There’s also a case that appliances need replacing, there are a lot of people over the next 10 years who are going to need to replace things like their furnace, their gas appliance of any kind, and their gas stove. And if you look at the economics, we may be approaching a day where that electric alternative is actually much cheaper because of these incentives. And also over the long run, you’re saving money because of the energy efficiency. This has been like the same case for renewable energy, why you see conservative states like Texas, still leaders in wind and solar, and I think we might see the same one day for gas appliances.
Andy Slavitt 38:45
Interesting. That’s fascinating. Ari, as we close any final thoughts you want to share with people and I’d love it if you closed by bringing us back to what actually really matters here.
Ari Bernstein 38:58
Sure, what really matters, if you have a gas stove is how well ventilated your kitchen is. And you have a vent hood, use it even when you’re boiling water. And if you don’t have access to ventilation, you can open your window, minimize use. If there are people in the household who do have lung problems, it’s a good idea to keep them away from the kitchen, if possible, and maybe put them in a room with a window. And I think that you know, I hope you’re wrong. Andy, I hope that, you know, gas stoves actually do go the way of the dodo. I will take away your now and we’ll talk again in a couple years. But you know, I do think there’s a momentum and to Rebecca’s point, which I thought was excellent that, you know, the reality is that in a lot of states, there’s very little in the way of gas cooking available. And it’s interesting, I didn’t realize was California York, I was guessing Massachusetts would have been high on the list to a lot of gas stoves around here. And we’ll see. But they’re in the meantime, I think really good things people can do to keep themselves away from harm.
Andy Slavitt 39:58
Well, that’s great. I think that’s helped Well, I, I know I wouldn’t walk up to a pipeline and stick my face in the part of it where it was, stuff was coming out of it. Now that you’re realizing that that’s in your home will tell you to take common sense precautions if it isn’t your home. And people can debate about this all they want. And I think my only final point is, I wish we could have a reasonable debate and conversation. I wish we were electing people to Congress, who didn’t see something like Trump gets comments as an opportunity to get on TV and say something outrageous, that could spread and turn into a bumper sticker. So I think […] here has to be, yes, there is information here, that people in the administration and others scientists are calling your attention, because it is helpful to us. It matters. It’s information we can use, and push out of the ignorance, push out all the debate. Think about the fact that you can process this information any way you want. That’s the freedom you actually do have. But that there are things that are better for you, you should want to know about them. Thanks so much for both being in the bubble. We have a we have good airflow and ventilation in the bubble. So appreciate you coming on.
Rebecca Leber 41:13
Thanks for having me.
Ari Bernstein 41:15
Thank you, Andy. Thank you Rebecca.
Andy Slavitt 41:31
Okay, that’s Monday show, I’m sure you want to know what’s coming up Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday is the granddaddy of them all and talking about COVID In the pandemic, Mike Osterholm. And what’s really interesting is he has discovered three practical rules, which he lives by, which allows anyone to be with people face to face without masks, and we think it’s better to be safely and remember, if you know, Mike, he is a little bit more on the cautious side to say the least, around this pandemic. So we’re going to bring you that on Wednesday. And Friday, we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade decision in the Supreme Court. And Roe didn’t quite make it to 50. But that doesn’t mean women’s reproductive rights are any less important. In fact, the state of women’s reproductive rights is really important for us to talk about and so we’re gonna have that show on Friday ahead of the anniversary. And then a whole bunch more stuff next week. But look, you got to make it through this week. First. One good way to do that. Don’t forget to email me at Andy@lemonadamedia.com. And look, have a great week. We’ll talk to you on Wednesday.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.