The trial balloon of banning gas stoves is just another example of the progressive quest to eliminate risk from American society.
The political world has been in an uproar over the past week on account of a somewhat random topic: gas stoves. This whole news cycle revolved around the idea – mooted by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. – of banning gas stoves due to their alleged harmful impact on health and indoor air quality. (I say alleged because the studies being cited are not at all solid.) Trumka, son of the famed union boss of the same name, stated regarding gas ranges that “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Progressives rushed to the proposal’s defense, claiming that these newly-studied health risks are only part of the problem – gas stoves are also terrible for climate change. Several cities, including New York, have banned gas hookups in new buildings entirely, stopping the promulgation not only of gas-powered stoves, but also of gas heating and water boiling.
But more than anything it says about the media, progressive talking points, or the decline of scientific rigor, this whole gas stove brouhaha captures a major aspect of modern progressivism that is inherently un-American: the urge to guarantee “safety.”
The answer is simple, and goes straight to the heart of the radical climate change movement.
You may have recently seen the photos or videos of radical climate change activists – often associated with the groups Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and the Last Generation – who enter museums and proceed to douse works of art with foodstuffs before gluing their hands to the wall. If you haven’t, the video below, from Germany this past weekend, is a great example of the tactic.
This assault on art has been met with skepticism from some more moderate climate change groups and activists, but has also been praised by many in the media. According to the tactic’s defenders, these paintings are protected by glass and also, who cares about art if we’re all going to die in a decade due to the climate catastrophe?! I’ve written on the absurdity of the worst climate change hysteria before, and the use of emergency language to make an end-run around the democratic process; these activists embrace those tactics and language in their vandalism disguised as protest. Their talk about people “starving,” “freezing,” and “dying” is similarly ludicrous, as those results largely happen due to a lack of fossil fuels, not a surplus; I debunked this specious argument further in my latest podcast episode.
But what is most interesting – and telling – about the vandalistic protests which have recently found their targets in art museums is something which cuts to the very heart of the radical climate change movement: its fundamentally anti-human and anti-civilization ideology.
The narrative of constant crisis promulgated by the Democratic party and progressive activists is merely a fig leaf for authoritarian, anti-democratic power grabs.
Emergencies have been recognized as unique and special events for most of human history, something the dictionary definition confirms. On the societal or civilizational scale, these crises can take many forms and relate to myriad causes – natural disaster, war, famine, pandemic, economic collapse, revolution, and more. These unforeseen, dramatic events are generally time-sensitive and limited in nature; floodwaters recede, harvests improve, viruses weaken and immunity spreads, and the business cycle rises once more. As the centuries have gone by, human societies have found useful ways of dealing with these emergency events, often tasking government institutions or leaders with crisis response. From the ancient past to the modern day, those temporary powers granted to government during periods of extreme tumult have been used to greatly relieve suffering and shorten the duration and scope of the disaster. But just as often, they have been used for ill; to agglomerate power in non-emergency situations, superficially extend real crises to retain deeper control, or permanently alter the political status quo. We are not yet at those destructive levels, but our politics have been slowly inching along that path for decades now. Under the current Democratic administration and Congress, however, this slow burn has rapidly accelerated. History can help us understand the perils that come along when one stokes the flames of permanent emergency.
Fossil Future is a thought-provoking, full-throated defense of fossil fuels, bringing convincing evidence & a moral philosophy of human flourishing to bear on the contentious topic of climate change.
Human-impacted climate change has been labeled as an “existential threat,” a “catastrophe,” and an “apocalypse.” Depending on the ‘expert’ testimony you choose to believe, we either have ten years, seven years, five years, or a mere three years (back in 2017) to save the planet from total devastation. This intense doomsaying is widely promulgated in our media, our government institutions, and our corporate world. It is leading to serious mental health issues in younger Americans, who take this rhetoric from teachers, parents, and social media influencers seriously and have developed what has been labeled “climate anxiety.” We are told that we need to totally reorient the global economy, completely end all use of fossil fuels, and stop having children if we are to end this horrible crisis and preserve the earth in a pristine natural state.
But is any of this fear and apocalyptic rhetoric justified? A provocative new book from the philosopher and energy researcher Alex Epstein argues that it isn’t. And not only that, Fossil Future argues that to expand human flourishing we need to expand fossil fuel use, not curtail or end it entirely.
On April 26, 2017, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13792, otherwise known as the Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act. This executive order tasked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke with reviewing “all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996,” where the designation is larger than 100,000 acres or where “the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach,” to determine whether they should be altered. Why does this matter, and what is the Antiquities Act anyway?