Stanford University geologist Miles Traer, along with two colleagues, has put together a scientific research presentation calculating the carbon footprint for nine comic book heroes and the results are less than stellar. As it turns out, superheroes are great at saving the world, but they're also really bad at killing the environment at the same time, which may send Batman back to the Batcave to turn the Batmobile into an electric car, or at least a hybrid vehicle to cut down on his massive carbon footprint. The main focus of the study is to get people thinking about their own carbon footprint in a tongue-in-cheek way.
When Iron Man is flying around the world in his high-tech suit or Batman is cruising the streets of Gotham, they're putting a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. They may be stopping villains, but they're potentially dooming future generations to the destructive effects of climate change at the same time. For instance, Miles Traer estimates that the Batmobile gets around 8 miles per gallon, which puts it in the same category as military vehicles and luxury sports cars. If Batman drives his car about 20,000 miles in a year, enough for typical superhero stuff plus the occasional joyride, then Batman is pumping around 48,000 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. To put that number into perspective, the average American produces 44,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year from all their activities combined. Bruce Wayne might need to go back to the drawing board with Lucius Fox to get those numbers down.
The Flash's maximum estimated annual carbon footprint is on the higher end, but the research team included a range of estimates because they really can vary. For example, the Flash can keep his annual CO2 emissions as low as 131 pounds, but those emissions can jump as high as 89.5 million pounds. It depends on how fast he's running and what he eats since he eats more than the average person to make up for the calories he burns with his speed. So, the Flash might end up eating a lot more beef to keep his speed together, which is terrible for the environment.
Superman has a very low carbon footprint at zero because he absorbs the sun's energy. Swamp Thing, meanwhile, has negative carbon emissions because he sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. Who would of thought that Swamp Thing was is an eco-hero? Batman needs to take a few lessons from Superman and Swamp Thing because his Oracle system is the worst offender, generating over a billion pounds of CO2 out into the atmosphere of Gotham City and ultimately out into our world. Batman and the Flash or some big-time offenders when it comes to eco-justice.
Miles Traer talked about his research and maintained that he's a fan of superheroes. Instead, Traer is just trying to spread the word and get people thinking about their own carbon footprints. He had this to say.
"I'm not saying that superheroes are bad. What I'm trying to point out is, hey, how can we improve their carbon footprint. Let's say, 'Hey Batman, you're driving around in this behemoth car; maybe have some regenerative braking, maybe have a hybrid engine of some kind.'"
With this project completed, Traer is considering looking at super villains as a next step. Mr. Freeze is said to be one of the worst since freezers have such a huge carbon footprint. Now you can think of the carbon footprints of your favorite superheroes next time you read a comic book or check out Infinity War. You can read more about Miles Traer's research via MilesTraer.com.