In Brief—The composting of dead humans is an idea whose time has come. Whether it’s composting or other ecologically friendly ways of dealing with the human dead, the time has come to openly discuss the issue and put it into practice.
Dead is Dead—
It was a Fremen practice in Herbert’s “Dune.” Forensics experts study it. In some nations it is a tradition. The decomposition and disposal of dead humans.
The desert-dwelling Fremen of Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” the prize-winning series of science fiction novels, recycled the precious water content of their dead (the “Dune” film sucked, by the way). Forensic experts study the decomposition in nature of dead bodies to learn how to determine the approximate time of death. The bodies of the Tibetan dead are laid out on rocky platforms so the dead can be consumed by birds-of-prey. Indian Hindu dead are cremated on funeral pyres and their ashes committed to the Ganges River.
Euphemisms (Is it Avoidance?)—
Now, let’s take a look at just a few of the many euphemisms for the elements of death that are found in the western world, particularly America. These indicate senseless tradition, fear or a reluctance to deal with a taboo subject.
Passing on. Deceased. Succumbed. Out of time. Bought the farm. Checked out. Croaked. Kicked the bucket. Gave up the ghost. Pushing up daisies. Shuffled off the mortal coil. Flatlined. Crossed over. Cashed In. Gone to a better place. Eternal rest. Gone home. Bit the dust. Six feet under. Remains.
It may be time to face the inevitable. It may be time to recognize that life is a continuum from birth to death. We celebrate the arrival of a baby, but we avoid mentioning the fact that the newborn is on the path to an inevitable death.
What do we do with that dead body? Do we put it in a stylish coffin and bury it in the ground? Do we put it in a mausoleum? Do we cremate it? Do we commit it to the ocean? Well, the New York Times has at last addressed the possibility that society may be ready to give thought to how we dispose of that dead body in a beneficial way.
On April 13, 2015, the Times presented an article titled “A Project to Turn Corpses into Compost.” An entrepreneur, Katrina Spade, has proposed and is testing a method by which dead human bodies can be recycled into fertilizer. She’s not the first nor will she be the last. There are other acceptable solutions such as a green burial that have been used and can be used today. You can google the subject to find other ways of dealing with a dead body. In any case, click on the highlighted words or the link below to read the full New York Times article.
Composting human bodies certainly won’t solve the problem of climate change even though it will ease it a bit. Additionally, some individuals and groups are so wedded to tradition or simply squeamish that there will be hurdles to the solution, but it’s a sensible way to reduce our human footprint on Earth and solve the issue of the expanding need for space in which to warehouse the dead.
No doubt, science needs to examine when composting can be dangerous. For example, the danger has been shown by the disposing of mad cows. Generally, however, composting is a benign way to accomplish two goals: disposing of dead humans and providing ecological fertilizer to grow the plants that will help save humanity.
Think about this and confront any doubts you may have. From my perspective, this is one sensible approach to a subject that has been taboo for much too long. As I’ve said before, let’s not be held back by pointless tradition.