We have previously reported on the BBC's Ethical Man, AKA Justin Rowlatt, here and here. While Justin is still very much alive and well, the time has come for him to bury his more altruistic alter-ego. In a fitting end to this educational series of reports, he explores an intriguing offer from a viewer — to compost his corpse. As it turns out, this isn't that easy to do. The environmental problems of cremation and burial are duly discussed, in some detail:
Nevertheless, it seems that burial or cremation really are the only legal options for disposing of a body in the UK at the present time. Things may be about to change however, as a radical new technique from Sweden may be introduced, involving freezing your body in liquid nitrogen, and then breaking it down into a biodegradable powder. John Crossham, however, is not impressed, arguing that there is too much embodied (sorry - I couldn't resist it) energy in the liquid nitrogen for this to make sense:
"Apparently, the problem with the way a corpse decomposes at the bottom of a grave is that there isn't enough oxygen to get a good aerobic compost going. The main by-products of aerobic decomposition include carbon dioxide and water meanwhile anaerobic decomposition produces methane - 23 times as powerful a greenhouse-gas as CO2."
"Wouldn't it be better just to get in a good butcher to cut the body into small and easily 'compostable' pieces?"
Ethical Man, may you rest in peace (or is that pieces?)