Superheroes would have ridiculous carbon footprints, it turns out

Thinking about your own carbon footprint kind of sucks. You start to think about the fact that you have a whole computer monitor devoted entirely to Spotify, a game console idling across the room, and the heater running full blast because it’s -5°F outside. That might be really specific to me, but you get the idea. It can make you feel bad about the way you live. So scientist Miles Traer took a different approach to show the impact one human or, in this case, superhuman, can have on the world around them. Instead of looking at the carbon footprint of a single person who is, let’s face it, mostly just trying to pay the bills and get by and doesn’t have time to think about how much energy their life consumes, he looked at some of our favorite superheroes. It turns out that, with a few notable exceptions, superheroes use a lot of energy.

The numbers he came away with are based on modern tech and some of the usually-foggy assumptions we make to make superpowers and fantasy tech work for these discussions, but they’re still pretty revealing.

According to Traer’s math, Oracle is the very worst offender of the bunch. As Batman’s personal hacker, Barbara Gordon has countless computers and servers at her beck and call, and she could consume enough electricity to produce as much as 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide. The Flash comes in second place. To maintain his slim figure, he would have to eat a 12-foot-tall burger clocking in at 1200 cubic feet each week, or enough peanut butter to fill a cement truck in the same time period. Spider-Man is a surprisingly big offender, too, thanks to the limitations of modern tech. While Toby Maguire’s Spidey might’ve made his webbing internally, Traer assumes we’re talking about the version of Spider-Dork that makes his with external chemicals. The only thing capable of handling the stress Spidey puts on his webbing is carbon nanotubes. Traer calculates that would take about 8,500 homes worth of power to produce, or about 49 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

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