What happens when climate change ravages graveyards?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/06/what-happens-when-climate-chan.html


Burning corpses is, apart from the fuel to get them to start burning, basically carbon neutral. Perhaps if we just used an oxygen rich atmosphere they’d burn solely on the energy from the body’s fats, and wouldn’t need any external fuel at all.
(You could then use the resultant heat for heating the building, but I probably wouldn’t mention to the bereaved relatives that the reason the memorial chapel is so toasty is because uncle Alex was quite portly…)


Compost. It’s a thing. It’s basically what nature/entropy/microbes intended all along.

(warning: some pictures in this sky burial wikipedia entry may be upsetting to some viewers)


ETA: I finally found some First Nations references to practices in North America, so I added links


This. My dad is buried un-enbalmed in a wicker casket under a field maple in a woodland.


tl:dr But it sounds truly gross.

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Wow, I am so glad you posted this.
I have elderly friends researching and setting up directives for this very path.
I intend to copy their homework.

Thank you, and my thanks to your dad.

This is powerful work, and affirms the circle of life that a lot of us [lovers of the natural world, of our home planet] already know in our mind, body and soul.


This is exactly what I’m hoping for, myself. Thank you.


Alkaline hydrolysis is looking better and better.


The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough.


Then again, you could always cremate, which still releases more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per corpse.

At record-high July 2019 EU prices for carbon credits, that’s about $8.

Here’s $10. I promise I’ll only do it once.


Oh yeah. I’m a huge fan of these options – but not everyone realizes that they’re options. My wife already knows I want an Infinity Burial Suit: https://www.upworthy.com/getting-buried-in-this-suit-of-mushrooms-could-help-save-the-planet


I vaguely remember reading that, when Edgar Allen Poe was exhumed from his paupers grave, for burial somewhere more prestigious, they found that a thorn bush (or something) had sent roots in to his casket; filling up the void, and gripping his bones. That struck me as just about the most Poe thing ever, Poetic, even.


just drop in some rubble before you plant the casket. some concrete from a demolition project should weigh it down nicely. Or maybe some sewage treatment biosolids.


They buried Barbara in the old church yard
They buried Sweet William beside her
And from his breast sprang a red, red rose
And out of hers a briar.

They grew and grew to the old church top
Till they could grow no higher
And there they grew in a true-love knot
The red rose and the briar.
– Barbara Allen (trad.)


Most people are cremated here in Germany, so thats not really a problem.
There is still a shitton of problems with climate change but at least the dead are not of our concern.


“I shall smash the doorpost and overturn the doors,
I shall raise up the dead and they shall eat the living:
And the dead shall outnumber the living!”

In this case, replace “climate change” with “Ishtar being denied the bull of heaven”; but it’s apparently a very old problem.

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I started working in the death care industry about a year ago. The national cremation rate is actually over 50% as of 2016. In some states (WA) it’s over 80%, basically it’s 70%+ out west and in the high 30s in the Bible Belt states.

A surprising fact about burial is enough concrete is used each year in the US (for vaulting around the coffin (legally required in many states)) that it could pave a road from Detroit to NYC.


Guessing here that this has something to do with The Rapture (in Christianity) and the uncorrupted body and the whole “how do you ascend to Heaven if your body has been all cremated and disappeared and reduced to ashes and stuff?” Please note I am not saying this is logical, just repeating what I was told a few decades ago by a believer in Texas (I think she was a Southern Baptist, in case that relevant).

This viewpoint is AFAICT not uniformly held among Christians:


Not sure, but I have had a conversation along similar lines with a Jewish believer, re: cremation.

Is cremation permitted by Jewish law?

Defenders of cremation point out that there is no explicit prohibition against cremation in Jewish legal sources. However there are prohibitions on defiling dead bodies and detailed procedures for handling them prior to burial — all of which appear inconsistent with the act of cremation. Proponents of cremation also point to biblical sources suggesting that Jews may have practiced the burning of dead bodies in ancient times.

Against that is a large body of Jewish literature that deals extensively with burial of the dead. In Genesis (3:19), God declares of man: “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Deuteronomy (21:23) commands in the case of an executed criminal, “You shall surely bury him.” The requirement of burying the dead is explicitly codified in multiple later rabbinic sources as well, including Sanhedrin 46b, Maimonides’ Sefer Hamitzvot and the Shulchan Aruch.

Moreover, there are additional historical, cultural and spiritual arguments against cremation. According to the Jewish mystical tradition, the soul does not immediately depart the body after death, and the process of decay in the earth allows a gradual separation rather than the more immediate and painful one resulting from the burning of the body. Cremation was historically associated with pagan practices that Jews are repeatedly enjoined in the Torah to reject. And because the body is traditionally considered the property of God, it is forbidden to defile it, which some regard the willful burning of human remains to be.

For all these reasons, Orthodox and Conservative rabbinic authorities maintain that cremation is prohibited. The Reform movement has adopted conflicting positions on this question over the years, but the most recent rabbinic opinion on the subject states that while cremation ought to be discouraged, the practice is not considered sinful.


That suit! It is wow!
Thanks for this.

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