Sunday, August 23, 2020

Green Death

Two articles in the September/October "Special 40th Anniversary" issue of DISCOVER magazine inspired this post. One, by Emily Anthes explains the emerging science of health care facility architecture.

We have always taken flowers and potted plants to our hospitalized loved ones, but how many of us have thought about the science behind our intuition? Patients feel less pain and recover faster, if they can look at Nature. Apparently, patients even do better if the wall art is of meadows, waterfalls, seascapes, treescapes et cetera instead of abstract art.

Nature is good for you. Are you good for Nature?

The opening premise of the second article, which is by Joan Meiners reminded me of "DUNE". In Dune, when a person dies, they bequeth all the water in their body to a beneficiary. Water is the most rare and precious treasure a person owns in the arid DUNE world.

Depending on age, size, and lifestyle, a human body is between 75% and 50% water.

The trouble with modern American burial customs is that the value of returning all that water and other nutrients to the soil is commonly, massively outweighed by the toxic --and even carcinogenic-- soup that is created by embalming.  Ms. Meiners reports on Troy Hottle's fascinating analysis of a a green death (with a positive carbon footprint of up to -864 kgs of Carbon Dioxide) and a not-green death (adding up to +350 kgs of Carbon Dioxide).

Green burials are explained here:

And here

Apparently, someone who chooses to befriend the Earth in death can give life to a new tree, or provide free light to a park. (Columbia University's DeathLAB's Constellation Park.)

Much older societies provide free lunch to vultures, as explained in "Fifteen of the Strangest Funeral Customs from Around the World."

Of the fifteen in this article, one reminded me of the Arthurian legends of  Merlin being entombed (alive) by Morgan Le Fay (or by The Lady of the Lake) inside a tree (or a tower, or a rock or a cave).

For more inspiring information about Merlin



Merlin legends are fascinating, and sometimes Gandalfian. There is also a reference to the cost of Magic. Most SFF writers know that there has to be a dark lining to every silvery cloud-of-power. In one version of the Merlin story, he can see the future for everyone else, but not for himself, and worse, his supernatural powers are diminished by lust, in fact his libido is his undoing... even the death of him.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 


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