WASHPOST: Superheroes Might Save World, Would 'Totally Wreck' Environment

A Stanford University geologist and two colleagues have calculated the carbon footprint for nine super heroes from comic book land and found that they'd destroy the environment if they were real.

"Earth might be better off if they stopped trying to save it," declares The Washington Post.

Miles Traer revealed his depressing findings at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting last month in New Orleans (a city that knows about disasters, since its built below sea level — good planning!). According to his painstaking research, he says most superheroes would consume hundreds of times more fossil fuels than the average American.

Now, we're not sure how. Superman doesn't fly in a private jet, like Leo DiCaprio and other Hollywood stars who claim to be stalwart champions of the environment. Spiderman is just a tech-savvy guy who slings a web. And The Thing, well, he is self-powered.

But Traer says if superheroes really did walk the earth, they'd be wrecking the environment at an alarming pace.

Barbara Gordon, the computer wizard also known as Oracle, is by far the worst offender: Even if her servers ran on a combination of clean energy sources — nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and geothermal — running them would still release more than 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

But Gordon's DC Comics associates are hardly better. To run at the speed of light, the Flash would need to consume 59,863,610,416 calories per second — the rough equivalent of a 12-foot tall hamburger every week. That adds up to nearly 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Meanwhile, flying alone would require Batman to burn the fossil fuel equivalent of 344 plane rides from New York to San Francisco.

“Plus Batman drives around a car that literally shoots fire out the back,” Traer says. “That has to be terrible for the environment.”

Traer examined nine superheroes — Oracle, the Flash, Batman, Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Firebird, Spider-Man, Superman and Swamp Thing — who he says show human demand for fossil fuel. But wait, doesn't Superman derive his power from the sun? Doesn't that make him an environmentally conscious solar energy super hero?

Of course, Traer offers some solutions. "By going vegetarian, the Flash could reduce his emissions from 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide to just 3 million. If Bruce Wayne stopped spending money on Batman gear, he could pay for carbon offsets for the entire population of downtown Chicago."

But if global warming is real, the geologist didn't consider that the world might just be able to tap the super powers of one special creature — Captain Cold. The DC Comics hero can shoot a cold beam that freezes anything it hits instantly, create a cold field to stop enemies instantly, and fire off "ice grenades" to freeze any large area.

There's your carbon offset right there.

But then, Captain Ice is a villain. So there's that.


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