I didn’t need convincing that climate change is real—it is the sole reason I committed myself to be vegetarian last year—but after watching Climate Change: The Facts, I am shaken.
There are two things that shocked me:
- We are on a trajectory for causing animal extinction. If we lose a few species of insects or animals in the food chain, we lose vital steps within our food chain. This means we lose the capacity to produce sustainable food. By the time I am 58 years old, we could be facing a global food crisis. If we cause extinction, that is irreversible.
- We have destroyed so many trees. We have burnt rainforests, which not only adds to greenhouse gasses but destroys the best resource for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Most of these trees have been destroyed for cattle, who produce methane (a worse greenhouse gas than CO2), and because we want palm oil in everything.
With our own extinction closer than I ever imagined, it got me thinking about death, which terrifies me. The only thing I’ve ever seen to give me comfort is an initiative called Bio Urn, and maybe, Bio Urn could be hope for our future.
Bio Urn is a company who provides fully compostable urns. You put your loved one’s ashes inside, and their remains create a new life. A tree. As mentioned above, trees are in rapid decline and we need trees in order to survive. Thousands of people die every day. Imagine how many trees we could repopulate this way? It’s both beautiful, comforting and world-changing.
In 2015 the BBC reported that the world is running out of burial space. “Mr Morris says Britain’s cities are feeling the strain first, but so are leafier parts of the country. ‘Local authorities have to try to find land for new cemeteries, which is expensive, while still covering the maintenance costs of older cemeteries.'”
As much as I understand that grief is powerful and we cling to traditions to keep us afloat in such times, we need to re-evaluate how we are using land for the deceased. Instead of dedicating land to headstones that cannot stand the test of time anyway, why not dedicate land to Bio Urns? Trees require less maintenance, they take care of themselves, and they will help us save the planet. And I like the idea of living again as a tree; I won’t become worm food, I’ll become a goddamn tree that could live for thousands of years.
If we don’t kill the planet first.
In some ways, it’s an oxymoron, because you still need to cremate your loved one, which produces CO2, but perhaps we could burn people without also burning the coffin? We build coffins just to burn people inside of them. What a waste of wood, not to mention pumping out a ton extra greenhouse gases for no good reason. But if we’re planting trees at the same rate as cremation, and already implementing renewable energy alternatives in society, surely we’re starting to put things right again?
In short, we need to take action in a variety of ways. Governments need to compound and enforce the greatest changes. We need to stop using fossil fuels in fifty years time, or there’s no point in having children. But we can do small things. According to ScienceDaily, “The average annual carbon dioxide emissions per person, they found, was 20 metric tons, compared to a world average of four tons.” Every human, yearly, has a massive carbon footprint, including in death.
Consider saving the planet. Become a tree one day.