Search “indoor s'mores recipe,” and you’ll find page after page of people happily toasting marshmallows over the blue flame of a gas stove in their home. You wouldn’t light a campfire in your kitchen. So why does it seem normal to burn fossil fuels indoors?
For decades, oil and gas companies in North America have waged a covert campaign to grow the market share of natural gas in our homes and public buildings. Even the term “natural gas” is a carefully workshopped advertising term.
Using paid Instagram influencers, glossy real estate photos and celebrity chefs, the industry has normalized burning what is mostly fracked methane indoors. But there’s a dark side to this suburban status symbol.
Gas appliances emit a long list of dangerous pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide are linked to heart attacks, childhood asthma and other respiratory ailments, but use of the gas is not regulated indoors.
Instead, Health Canada recommends “cooking on the back burner” of a gas stove. Good tip!
Fracking operations also pollute huge volumes of freshwater in B.C., trigger earthquakes and release raw methane into the atmosphere — a potent greenhouse gas that only adds to the planet-warming emissions released by burning the final product.
But attempts by local jurisdictions to ban gas in new buildings or swap out gas furnaces for electric heat pumps quickly run into a swarm of co-ordinated opposition funded by the utilities and gas companies.
Mother Jones reporter Rebecca Leber has uncovered astroturf campaigns in U.S. cities where public-relations professionals posed as “concerned homeowners” to fight local efforts to electrify. Now there are signs those same tactics have made their way to B.C.
Dogwood’s Kai Nagata will be interviewing Leber in a live, interactive webinar on Wednesday at noon Pacific Time.
Nagata, a former journalist and Tyee writer-in-residence, will share resources for people looking to get off gas, and moderate questions from the audience.
As Vancouver and other municipalities try to enact ambitious climate plans, they are swimming upstream against utilities, fossil fuel companies and the provincial government itself, which is undertaking a massive expansion of natural gas extraction in B.C.
Understanding who stands to lose is the first step to unravelling the campaigns against electrification in B.C. We have just nine years to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half, and this is made more difficult by every new home, school or apartment building hooked up to a gas pipeline.
Join Dogwood’s Kai Nagata and Mother Jones reporter Rebecca Leber for a lively lunch-hour discussion on the history of gas company propaganda, the Big Tobacco tactics used by the industry to fight regulation and what you can do to cut harmful emissions and safeguard your family’s health.
The event is free but spaces are limited. RSVP to claim your spot here.
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