Welcome back to Greenwashed! 👋
As the world media diverted their entire swath of resources this week to covering the attempted rescue mission of the Titanic tourists and an attempted coup in Russia, some important climate-related stories flew under the radar.
Fear not. We've got you covered with what you missed, starting with an update from your kitchen.
An Update on Gas Stoves ⚡️
Back in January, we covered the controversy surrounding gas stoves and the launch of a startup attempting to solve the problems associated with electric ones.
A quick refresher on the situation: At the end of 2022, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that it would examine the safety of gas stoves and consider banning them if unsafe. Public reaction was...interesting, to say the least.
Somehow, a relatively unknown government agency saying that it would think about doing something ignited an explosion of backlash, and it soon turned into a full-fledged battle in America's so-called culture war. 🇺🇸
Echoing similar cultural sentiments surrounding ESG, lightbulbs, and whales, gas stove fans objected to a potential ban from belief that the government exerts too much influence when dealing with matters related to the transition to sustainability.
However, new research this week out of Stanford could change things. The study found that gas stoves produce levels of benzene (a toxic carcinogen) worse than secondhand smoke and comparable to oil and gas production leaks. This revelation adds to previous health concerns around gas stoves; a 2022 paper found they were responsible for 13% of all child asthma cases in America.
Beyond the immediate importance of making people aware of a health hazard, this research is critical because it fundamentally changes the conversation around gas stoves. Prior backlash about a ban or phase-out came from anti-environmentalist sentiment; now that the conversation involves their own health, people should take the issue more seriously. ⛑
Environmentalism is often a fickle philosophy to drive action--not from lack of merit, but because we often don't see the impact of climate problems (or their solutions) in our day-to-day lives. Waning society off of gas stoves will go a lot faster if people are incentivized to protect their children's health rather than the more abstract notion of the environment.
Progress in China 🇨🇳
This past week, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited China to meet with his counterpart and President Xi Jinping. Many saw the visit as an important diplomatic step in avoiding military conflict among rising tensions (in fact, the visit was delayed until now because of that whole spy balloon fiasco). 🎈
It's unclear what military diplomatic progress was made, but the under-the-radar positive aspect of the visit was that there was progress made in the realm of climate policy. In a first-of-its-kind olive branch, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was invited to China to open communication about climate policy.
The countries are the worlds two largest polluters, but have also shown some commitment to the green transition. In 2022 alone, China installed 100 GW (10x the amount of the entire African content) of solar capacity, and the U.S. executed on the climate provisions in 2021's Inflation Reduction Act. 🤝
Additionally, China has accumulated somewhat of a monopoly on many strategic minerals such as cobalt that are needed for the energy transition. However you spin it, there's no denying that the entire fight against climate change collapses if the U.S. and China can't communicate with each other.
Estonian Excellence 🇪🇪
One last thing of note: Luxury mega-conglomerate LVMH recently hosted their annual innovation contest; beating out over 1,300 applicants to win the top grant prize was Estonian startup Woola, who uses wool to replace bubble wrap.
Woola's wrapping is made from waste wool, which is wool that would be burned or replaced when making typical wool products like clothing. Not only is that process more sustainable, there's also a dire need for an alternative to plastic bubble wrap. Plastic cannot be recycled, requires loads of petrochemicals to produce, and is ending up in newborn babies.
Thanks for reading! If you've been inspired to help out in the fight against the climate crisis, start by offsetting your emissions here or by subscribing below to stay up-to-date on all of the need-to-know climate problems and solutions.