Day: June 12, 2007

Responsible Death Rites

Can cremation be used as an offset under the Kyoto Protocol? Read on..

Seed: New Green Pyre Promoted in India

UN figures show close to 10 million people die a year in India, where 85 percent of the billion-plus population are Hindus who practice cremation. That leads to the felling of an estimated 50 million trees, leaves behind half a million tonnes of ash and produces eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, according to research by Agarwals Mokshda environmental group.

The solution is to design a much more efficient wood burning stove hence satisfying religious sentiments (have to use wood to burn your body) and save lots of wood.

Agarwal built his first pyre, a raised human-sized brazier under a roof with slats that could be lowered to maintain heat. The elevation allowed air to circulate and feed the fire.

It gets even better…

Mokshda hopes its projects will eventually be registered under the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism, which encourages green projects in developing countries.

It allows industrialised countries that have committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to count reductions achieved through investments in projects in developing countries towards their undertakings.

Really, we can get carbon credits by improving cremation practices?? That’s creative! Going all electric on the crematorium would obviously be the best thing, but Hindu religious sentiment being what it is, this is an improvement.

If you want environmentally friendly, this has nothing on the Parsis (or Zoroastrians):

The interior of the Tower of Silence is built in three concentric circles, one each for men, women, and children. The corpses are exposed there naked. The vultures do not take long—an hour or two at the most—to strip the flesh off the bones, and these, dried by the sun, are later swept into the central well

Yes, that’s right, the vultures! Now, that’s energy efficient! Unfortunately, due the use of diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory in livestock, vulture populations in India have declined to the point that this ancient ritual is now in serious jeopardy.