Death. Is it good for the environment? A weird question isn’t it? I was quite shocked when I read the article below.
In many cultures, including my own, people who have died are cremated, rather than, buried. With this awareness one of my final requests will be for my body to buried and have a tree planted in my memory.
In a recent conference for science journalists held in Melbourne, biologist Roger Short of Melbourne University called for an end to cremation quoting figures on the greenhouse cost of cremations. He said that during a cremation process the average male body produces more than 50 kgm of carbon dioxide. This is the same level of emissions, he said, that one dozen cars gave as their drivers came to attend the funeral.
Here is an extract from his press release dated 17th April
“Think earth to earth,” he said, “but not ashes to ashes or dust to dust”. Professor Short’s proposal is that everyone should be buried […] next to their favourite species of tree. This would allow the remains to enrich the growth of the tree.
“Not for nothing are trees known as the lungs of the world”, he said.
“A single tree over a hundred-year period absorbs over a metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), so imagine the difference it could make if everyone was buried and had a tree planted in their memory”.
“Photosynthesis in trees is the single most efficient way of sequestering CO2. Not only that, but they do what no other method of carbon minimisation can do, and that is to produce oxygen”, he said.
Professor Short’s idea comes in the wake of China’s policy of encouraging cremation due to lack of space and the Hindu practise in India of burning the body on a funeral pyre made of trees.
He said that in Australia during cremation, the average male produces over 50 kilograms of CO2 as the body is heated to 850 degrees centigrade for an hour and a half. “And that’s not counting the carbon cost of the fuel, and the cost of the emissions involved in producing and burning the wooden coffin”, he added. Professor Short acknowledges that there are cultural sensitivities, legal issues and other obstacles that would have to be overcome for the idea to take hold. However, he said that time was short and this was a practical idea that allows each one of us to do our bit to combat climate change.
Provided by Suraj Shah