How to Destroy the Planet

By Eric Roston - 2012-04-20T12:50:43Z

Formosat image by National Space Organization, Taiwan

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Deadly Clash of Superheroes and Mutants

THREAT: Two aliens from a "water world" land in the Sargasso Sea and construct a heat cannon designed to flood the Earth's land by melting the northern and southern ice caps.

REALITY: This tale occurred in the September 1958 Superman episode in Action Comics. Superman befriends the finned duo as they prepare their Infra Coil for maximum destruction. When the operation is ready, he sabotages it by sliding a lens over the heat beam, turning it into a rainbow. He then poisons the aliens with excessively high-sodium ocean water, and they flee for their home planet.

Unfortunately for Earth, humans are collectively operating our own version of the Infra Coil, releasing heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere at rates that are unprecedented for anything short of a meteor strike. The extent of Arctic sea ice each September drops about 10 percent every decade. The Greenland ice sheet shrank 240 gigatons each year from 2002 to 2012. Although many measures have been launched to mitigate carbon emissions, rainbows aren't among them.

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