The other day a shared post on Facebook got my head cogs into gear and this is why I am tapping away at the keyboard tonight. The post said this: ‘Whether the introduction of glass coffins catches on remains to be seen.’ That tickled me, puns being far funnier than things like terminal illness and ‘Gavin and Stacey’, although in which order is up for debate. As I looked at the photo of the transparent corpse container I, for reasons unknown, thought of a food blender and why it was we don’t liquidise mortal remains for ease of transport and disposal? Sadly this was only the start of a plunge into a mental labyrinth at the centre of which was a Minotaur fashioned from pure illogical bollocks.
55 million people die every year worldwide*. That’s a lot of long pig kicking up its trotters to dispose of. Imagine how much valuable space (admittedly underground space but still off bounds for any other use than the internment of the dead) burying all those bodies will require; I bet it’s at least an area twenty-five times the size of Wales or 7 trillion football pitches. Torching the dearly departed is always an option but that’s rather carbon-positive and we’re still left with a mountain of ash that will eventually contaminate the world’s oceans making them a grey broth of the dead. Both these disposal problems bring me back to the blending inspiration that hit me when I viewed the comedy glass coffin.
My idea was to take the huge mass of people that die each year and feed them into a Nutribullet style gizmo, although a much bigger version than the ones you buy in the likes of Asda; then take the resulting biological smoothie and spread it all over the land in the manner of a souped-up fertiliser thus putting some goodness back into Mother Earth. That was my idea but a little research soon provided evidence that human remains are not the ideal organic matter for growing stuff in due to possible disease contamination and the levels of toxins present in our bodies that are not beneficial to plant life or the water table per se. It was time to scrap the plans for an industrial pulper at the back of hospitals and return to the drawing board to tackle this most pressing of problems in a more creative fashion.
It wasn’t long before inspiration struck again and this time the road led straight to a cerebral Xanadu. When I was a kid I had a really old book and within its pages it had an anatomical cross-section view of the human body – detailing skin, bones, muscles, tendons, etc. – linked to a detailed table containing the specific amounts of each of the elements present in our bodies and their possible uses. Well, I searched for hours for the book to use as a reference for this rant but its whereabouts remain a mystery, though I know full well it will show itself at a time in the future when I have no need of it. Unperturbed, I have decided to move forward as what I am about to outline could well be the ecological miracle the world is in need of and to delay even for a second would be a selfish sin on my part.
When we kick the bucket, pop our clogs, snuff it or whichever official medical turn of phrase you prefer, our body will be collected and a clinical salvage operation will be put into action. In the first instance any serviceable organs up for grabs will be farmed and sent to deserving homes to carry on with their specific jobs in a new host body. Victory number one, donated organs for all that require them; no opting out either, we’re dead, so fuck us. Next the rendering process will begin as our bodies are broken down into the elements that make us up. Let’s take a look at what we are going to bequeath to the world on an elemental level.
Next is Carbon, 18.5%, and this one is a beauty because carbon is an important element of petrol/gasoline. The average human body will contribute to several pints of petrol and I assume a fat bugger will gift several gallons. This is great news for the internal combustion engine fans as we can keep our beloved cars and motorbikes running enabling us to forgo those stupid electric carts with their two-yard range and, as a bonus, we can also wave goodbye to the smug wankers driving them. Already, and only using the first two most abundant elements in our bodies, we have saved the planet and our freedom…but there’s even more joy to come.
Hydrogen is in third place at 9.5% and is a major component of rocket fuel which might come in useful if my calculations regarding the Oxygen and Carbon taken from a corpse prove inaccurate and we have to leave the planet in a hurry because it has ignited into a ball of fire. Hydrogen is also used to fill up party balloons so they can float on a piece of string telling everyone how much of an old twat you are on your birthday – no, sorry, that’s Helium, wipe that last image from your mind. Did I mention I failed Chemistry O-level…twice?
There’s 3.2% of Nitrogen and this can be used as a plant fertiliser, useful to get those palm oil farms running at full efficiency. It’s also employed in the making of nylon and explosives in case you’re ever in need of a pair of quick-release stockings…and we’ve all had need of them at some time or other.
1.5% of Calcium resides within us and
Phosphorous weighs in at 1% and is also a fertiliser but we’ve got enough of that from the Nitrogen so we’ll make fireworks and matches instead and have a party or a revolution. How cool will it be to become part of a Catherine Wheel or hand grenade; we could be helping topple a nasty bastard dictator after we’re dead.
There are five more elements that come in at below 1% – Potassium, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine and Magnesium – all of which have a lot of uses ranging from the vulcanisation of rubber, important to help control the birth rate; to the manufacture of soap, important to aid any required increase of the birth rate. There are very trace amounts of other elements: Iron, Silicon, Copper, and a few more which once we have deconstructed enough bodies and amassed a decent amount of them will come in useful for anyone doing a bathroom or kitchen refit. Some of these rarer elements in our bodies are used in advanced aeronautics and telecommunications. Yes, that’s right we could live on as part of a smartphone and I know some of us are going to love that as an afterlife choice. Speaking for myself I would relish the chance to screw up someone’s Instagram account from beyond the veil.
So there you have it, the perfect solution to prevent the mass waste, and possible eco-damage, which is carried out each year by burning or burying the dead. I understand this is a sensitive subject for some and that the thought of being shoved into a biological breaker’s yard could be unsettling but we have to think of future generations. If we decide to reap the Oxygen and Hydrogen from some of the cadavers as water (approximately 50% of a human body) imagine the irrigation projects we could implement in regions of drought…and we could still make fireworks with what’s left. No one can argue against that kind of self-sacrifice.
Why not pop in the comments section what you’d like made out of your bodily remains, those wondrous elements that make up the physical ‘you’. There could be some great uses for Vanadium I don’t know about. For the men reading this don’t make smart-arse suggestions about your manhood, contrary to what you might think it is not an important element and if you ask any woman that particular organ is mostly good for nothing even when it’s part of a living body let alone a stiff. Pun intended of course.
*The more scary figure is 131 million people are born each year; imagine how crowded public transport is going to be in a decade or two; we’ll be four deep of nose to armpit. I’ll have to address this in a future treatise of wisdom, I’m confident I can tackle the inescapable overcrowding problem to our advantage.