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Mortal reflections on resurrection and reincarnation

Although it is Easter time in the Christian world, death and resurrection and/or reincarnation would seem a key spiritual concept in many religious beliefs. And looking at it from a biology perspective it is quite so.

The fleeting beauty of a cherry blossom is celebrated in Japan as a metaphor for life itself.

It’s Easter time in the Christian world, which is essentially about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ bringing about the logical end to Christmas, which is about the birth of the same.

The what, where, who, why, when, and how have been the topic of discussion for wise and learned men, and the odd woman and justification for armed conflict for kingdoms, politicians, and clerics ever since it is supposed to have taken place over two millennia ago. A paradox on many levels.

Be that as it may, death and resurrection and/or reincarnation would seem to be a key spiritual concept in many religious beliefs. And looking at it from a biology perspective it is quite so; the various atoms, minerals, and molecules that make up my body will be dispersed after death and resurrected or reincarnated into something else eventually.

Later rather than sooner I would hope, I’m in no particular hurry to begin pushing daisies or other vegetation in a graveyard.

On mortal reflection, there are other aspects to take into consideration before being laid to eternal rest.

I’ve always viewed the bipedal thermo-biochemical combined heat-, power, and cooling plant that I call my body as being carbon neutral, part of the biogenic carbon cycle. Except for the odd inadvertently ingested piece of plastic, it has only ever been fuelled on biomass, both crop- and animal-based, also known as food and, as far as I am aware, there are very few if any fossil carbon components that have been used in its construction.

From a reuse and recycling perspective, I’m perfectly okay with various components being reused by someone else or recycled for something else though no warranties will be given in either case.

While every reasonable effort thus far has been made to keep my body in healthy working order, apart from age-related issues, I’ve noted a slight onset of lifestyle-related industrial disease which may have unintended consequences for some components.

Furthermore, there is almost certainly an inadvertent bioaccumulation of various heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, and lead not to mention other anthropogenic forever chemical nasties.

Thus from a waste management perspective, having what’s left of me post-morteum popped into a wooden box placed six feet under hardly seems an appropriate “disposal” method for such hazardous residues.

Indeed, even if my mortal remains were to be given a clean bill of health, a graveyard is de facto a dedicated landfill for human remains. Albeit often landscaped with headstones, trees, and flowers, it is still a repository for organic residues that decompose. This would seem contradictory to ongoing efforts to reduce methane emissions by preventing organic matter from being landfilled.

Instead, I’d much prefer to have my inherent energy recovered in a suitable facility with whatever non-hazardous bottom ash to be used as part of a soil improvement medium or from which useful salts can be extracted.

Given advances in carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies like pyrolysis carbon capture and storage (PyCCS), such a future energy recovery facility could recover my inherent energy and provide a few kgs of biochar.

What better way as a final act to make good on my carbon debt – my share of fossil- and geological carbon overconsumption – by being laid to eternal rest as a few kgs of biochar? Perhaps also even partially incorporated in the recycled concrete headstone?

Ressurection, reincarnation, and eternal life all rolled into one.

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