Posted by Richard Rawlinson
Back in the day, it was a given of the natural order that the decomposition of our remains made us part of the food chain. In the last few decades, the negative environmental impact of burial and cremation has become an ethical issue. Although there’s increasing scepticism towards scientific claims about man-made global warming, one can still want to reduce air, soil and water pollution, with its adverse affects on our health and that of wildlife.
Embalming chemicals; hardwood coffins; concrete vaults; quarried headstones; marble mausoleums; processional motorcades; non-organic flowers and refreshments: all on the bad list.
Cardboard coffins and biodegradable urns; planting a tree to mark a resting place; new crematoria chimneys that reduce emissions; removal of mercury-amalgam fillings before cremation; car-sharing and locally-sourced refreshments: all on the good list.
While dictating the menu of the buffet and the material of headstones might seem too finger-wagging, there’s a case for reducing toxins by replacing embalming formaldehyde with glutaraldehyde, which is less poisonous, and designing ‘clean’ smokestacks.
That’s the beauty of technological evolution. Sophisticated Man’s primal survival instinct remains intact, He devises solutions to problems that arise. People argue over the best course of action, or the urgency of action, but the doomsayers are invariably silenced.
Nuclear fuel and GM food polarise opinion when proposed as the sustainable answer to the world’s needs. Some see wind farms as an answer while others see them as useless energy generators that guzzle fossil fuel in their construction, slice up birds and damage tourism as eco-eyesores.
In his new book, Watermelons (so-titled because they’re green on the outside and red on the inside), James Delingpole discusses the Climategate scandal in which tax payer-funded scientists manipulated research in the most unscientific ways to make man-made warming claims stand up. Their lies, cover-ups, distortions and exaggerations, claims Delingpole, have caused mass hysteria resulting in liberties curtailed and trillions of pounds squandered.
What’s your take on the green movement’s influence on the funeral industry? Necessary initiatives welcomed by today’s consumers? Or overdone and greeted with apathy or scepticism?