According to New York Daily News columnist, Jay Maeder, two high-tech crematoriums in Sweden are piping posthumous candlepower to local energy companies. In short, the bodies of the dead are now heating thousands of Swedish homes.
This has caused quite a public uproar in Sweden, a controversy fueled all the more by the fact that the crematoriums kept their newfound energy source secret for six months. Company officials are quick to defend the practice.
“It only makes sense,” says Helsingborg crematory official Sorje Stolt. “It’s environmentally friendly and relatives can console themselves knowing that the death of a loved one benefits the whole community!”
Church leaders are rather put off by the whole deal (“No one wants Aunt Astrid heating up the living room!”), though some have to admit, the idea of harassing the power of burning corpses does follow the old “ashes to ashes” schematic.
People Are The New Fossil Fuel
Adopting this “putting the dead to work” ideal globally makes a twisted kind of sense. Hey, look at the dinosaurs; we use their remains to heat our homes every day. Using “fresher” fossil fuels is, well, you know, just forward thinking.
Besides, the results of burning the dead for fuel would be spectacular. When a beloved individual (like Mother Teresa or Princess Di) ventured to the Great Beyond, we could hold a magnificent public ceremony, dedicate a light bulb in their eternal memory, and then haul their carcass into the fire. It’s so primal, so…Viking. It is any wonder that this controversy originates from Sweden?
Although this “death warmed over” idea may appeal to energy conservationists, there’s something unquestionably ghoulish about it. It is said that a society’s compassion can be judged by how well they treat their dead. Burning them for fuel ranks pretty low on the scale, right above selling hunks of human flesh to soup kitchens and using severed heads as paperweights.
I’m not sure when these “burning” ideas will reach America’s shores, but I bet when they do, some people will be all fired up, while others will be dying to give them a try. Heh, heh, heh.
Originally published in Wayne TODAY, Sept. 1997