Jessica Jones

Her carbon footprint is smaller than you might think, and is somehow still terrifying.

Jessica Jones is a powerful super-anti-hero in the Marvel Universe. She has incredible strength and can sort of fly… it’s complicated. She got her powers through a freak accident involving chemicals, and her super-strength and sort-of-flying ability don’t seem to require any energy inputs like food or fossil fuels. It seems like we can expect a relatively small carbon footprint. Yet, Jessica Jones runs a detective agency, she smokes a lot, and she drinks even more. In order to perform a full assessment of her carbon footprint, we’re going to look at the carbon footprint of those activities.

Alias Investigations
Jones is a private eye and she’s pretty great at her job. Turns out, having superpowers makes spying on people a lot easier.

The carbon footprint of her detective agency comes from the electricity required to heat/cool her apartment office and power her laptop and mobile phone. Jones is a snarky young person who wears a lot of leather and has little respect for popular trends while simultaneously looking fabulous most of the time. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest she lives in Brooklyn.

This great interactive map created by a team of UC Berkeley scientists (go Bears!) shows that the carbon footprint of a Brooklyn apartment breaks down like this:

Housing = 22,046 lbs CO2e
Services = 8,818
Food = 19,842
Goods = 8,818
Transport = 11,023

Because we’re only concerned with her detective agency, we’re going to ignore food and transport (she can sort-of-fly, remember). That means that the carbon footprint of Jessica Jones’ Alias Investigations is approximately:

Emissions = 39,683 lbs CO2e

While on her stakeouts, or sometimes just outside her favorite bar, Jessica Jones enjoys quite a few cigarettes. Determining the carbon footprint of cigarettes was tough because the tobacco industry lies about is notoriously secretive about – pretty much everything. The best I could find were some carbon calculations for a Pakistani cigarette producer:

Emissions = 1,404 lbs CO2e per million cigarettes

I can’t verify this number through external sources, so this is the best we have to go on. Now we need to figure out how many cigarettes Jones smokes in a year. The National Cancer Institute estimates that the average smoker smokes 20 cigarettes per day, or one pack a day. I found a few other sources that confirm this estimate. But Jones isn’t an average smoker, she’s probably a super smoker.

Jones’ superpowers allow her to heal quickly and make her pretty much immune to most kinds of illnesses. Let’s assume she smokes 3 packs a day, or 60 cigarettes. That comes out to 21,900 cigarettes per year.

With our emissions coefficient above, we can calculate Jessica Jones’ carbon footprint from smoking.

Emissions = 21,900 cigarettes * 1,404 lbs CO2e / 1,000,000 cigs = 30.75 lbs CO2e

This number wasn’t quite as big as I thought it would be. But 30 lbs is still pretty bad. Also, you know, cigarettes can kill you.

According to the TV show (which, I’ll be honest, is where I know her from), Jones suffered tremendous mental trauma when she was younger and has since turned to drinking to help ease her pain (note: this is a bad idea and does not work). Her superpowers also seem to include a super-metabolism, which means that she can process alcohol faster than it can get her drunk. As a result, she drinks a lot to try to ease her pain.

Different kinds of alcohol have different carbon footprints because they’re made of different ingredients and have to be transported different distances. Jones’ drink of choice is whiskey. Luckily for us, the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable, whose acronym really is BIER, has already calculated the carbon footprint of whiskey.

Emissions = 6.31 lbs CO2e per bottle

Now all we need to know is how much Jones drinks. On TV, she has a bunch of empty bottles around her apartment office. With her super metabolism, we can assume that she drinks a little over a bottle of whiskey per night, or around 9 bottles per week, or 468 bottles of whiskey per year.

With these two numbers, we can calculate Jessica Jones’ carbon footprint from drinking:

Emissions = 468 bottles * 6.31 lb CO2e / bottle = 2,953 lbs CO2e

This means that Jessica Jones’ carbon footprint from whiskey alone is comparable to the carbon footprint of all the food a vegan eats in a year. I’m assuming vegan because, you know, Brooklyn.

The Final Analysis
Adding everything together, Jessica Jones’ carbon footprint is

Emissions = 39,683(detective agency) + 30.75(smoking) + 2,953(drinking) = 42,667 lb CO2e

The most carbon-intensive place to live in New York City is on Manhattan, and comes in at an average of 45.2 metric tons of CO2e per year, or 99,649 lbs CO2e. It would still take more than 2 Jessica Joneses, with all of her superpowers (and super bad habits), to equal the carbon footprint of a single Manhattan socialite.

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