EntertainmentHigh stakes at Super Bowl: Massive stars, private jets, and the environmental impact

High stakes at Super Bowl: Massive stars, private jets, and the environmental impact

Private jets cause global problems.
Private jets cause global problems.
Images source: © Canva
4:13 PM EST, February 13, 2024

Super Bowl, the final of the American Football League, is the biggest sporting event in the United States. Its grandeur makes it one of the significant pop culture spectacles, partly due to the concerts held during intermissions. This year, the star of the evening was Usher, who was joined onstage by Alicia Keys.

The Super Bowl attracted many non-football fans this year, thanks to rumors of singer Taylor Swift's relationship with Kansas City Chiefs' player Trevor Kelce. This speculation dominated both gossip and music websites.

Besides being a cultural event, the Super Bowl also generates a staggering amount of greenhouse gases. For the final on February 11 in Las Vegas, 882 private jets flew in. Not just celebrities, but many fans too, arrived this way. Several social media posts sought co-passengers for plane rides specifically for the event.

Over 800 private jets flew to the Super Bowl

On the environmental impact of this, Benjamin Leffel, an adjunct professor for sustainable development at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, commented to thehill.com, “The United States is a world example of the problems arising from privatized transportation." He compared the situation in the U.S. to European countries where high-speed trains serve up to 80 percent of the most popular intracontinental private jet routes.

Who contributes most to atmospheric pollution?

When discussing emissions, it's frequently stated that since China has the highest emissions, Western countries don't need to reduce theirs. However, on a per capita basis, China doesn't even figure in the top ten highest emitters list. According to ourworldindata.org, the average US resident emits 14.9 tons of CO2 per year, while a Chinese resident emits just 8 tons.

Taylor Swift flew from Tokyo to the event in her private plane. Ocampo, a researcher from the Washington D.C based Institute of Political Studies (IPS), calculated for thehill.com that, considering the distance and model of Swift's private jet, her trip emitted a staggering 40 tons of greenhouse gases. In comparison, the average annual carbon dioxide emissions per person on earth was 4.3 tonnes in 2020 according to the World Bank.

However, Ocampo noted that this one-off emission pales in comparison to the carbon footprint of the entire Super Bowl. This includes not just the on-site emissions in Las Vegas, but also those generated from broadcasting the event around the world.

Conversely, Super Bowl organizers claimed that this year's final was the least emission-intensive in its history. Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was 100% powered by renewable energy sourced from over 621,000 solar panels stationed in the Nevada desert. The event was viewed live by 72,000 fans.

Sources: thehill.com, ourworldindata.org

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