Monkeys Fighting Robots

Even Captain Planet and the Planeteers need a little help in improving the environment! Look, superhero-ing is a messy job and someone has to do it, but let’s be honest, our billionaire caped wonders aren’t really that ecological, which is apparent after a recent study performed by Stanford University Geologist Miles Traer.

Traer, a pop-scientist, brought forth his study at the most-recent American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in which he explained that while superheroes are saving the world, they also might be destroying it at the same time.

It’s about carbon footprints and how we can use our combined knowledge, apply it to climate change, in hopes of helping resident superheroes be even better for the planet. The presentation was part of an ongoing series called, “Sci-Fi: Using Real Science to Explore Fictional Words”. They are meant to dive into issues in pop culture and entertainment as a means of opening the conversation about real-world scientific issues.

The study found that a handful of superheroes, namely Batman, Superman, Firebird, Flash, Oracle and Swamp Thing, all of the DCU, and Marvel’s Spider-Man, Iron Man and Jessica Jones, while all good at saving the day, were all superbad at leaving carbon footprints all over the place.

The worst offender, Oracle. Regardless if her servers ran on a combination of clean energy (nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and geothermal), keeping them going would still dispel more than 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Her DC Comics counterparts, equally as bad. Flash, to run at the speed of light, would need to consume 59,863,610,416 calories-per-second, or the equivalent of a 12-foot tall hamburger, every week. That comes out to roughly 90 million pounds of carbon dioxide on an annual basis. Meanwhile, Batman, using the Batwing and Batmobile, would burn, in equivalence, the fossil fuel usage 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, via his presentation, seeks to motivate people to start thinking about their own carbon footprints. Each of the nine superheroes he analyzed reflects some aspect of humans’ fossil fuel consumption. To further his point, Traer considers how his heroes might lessen their impact on the environment. For example, by opting a vegetarian lifestyle, Flash could reduce his emissions of carbon dioxide to just 3 million. If Bruce Wayne cut back on Batgear, he could instead pay for carbon offsets for large populations.

In a nut shell: If a masked vigilante, with way too much money in the bank, can redeem himself, then you can too!

Check out the complete story from the meeting via the Washington Post, HERE.

Michael is a New England native and fluent in Italian. He graduated with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism (RTVF) from Auburn University. He is a BIG fan of the Boston sports scene, X-Men and X-Force. He loves his black lab (named Yaz), pop culture, science, space and gaming. He's also a crossfitter, paddleboarder and marathoner.