Notes from underground

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Exraordinary Rendition

With shrinking space for burials, and cremations being environmentally unfriendly, there’s a new proposal for getting rid of corpses by rendering.

In ordinary rendering a body is boiled until the various parts separate, but in a new process, which could be described as “extraordinary rendition”, chemicals are added to speed up the process.

It’s not clear whether it uses less energy than cremation.

Traditional methods of laying the dead to rest can no longer cope with the disposal of the 500,000 people who die in England and Wales each year.

Led by Harriet Harman, ministers have launched a concerted effort to find a solution. With options shrinking, the Government has turned its attention to the possibility of “boiling” bodies down to a handful of dust.

While it is hardly what is traditionally described as “a good send-off”, “resomation” can at least claim to be kinder to the planet than some traditional ways of disposing of the dead. The process, developed in the United States, speeds up decomposition by immersing bodies in a solution of water and potassium hydroxide and heating to 150C (302F). More than 1,100 people in the US have already opted for resomation.

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The proposed name for the process, “resomation”, is a misnomer if ever there was one. Resomation means rebodying, and this process is more like debodying, for which the correct English word is “rendering”.

Of course they could always try the Greek custom — bury the bodies until they decompose, then dig up the bones and put them in an ossuary, and reuse the graves.

Hat-tip to Changing the World (and other excuses for not getting a proper job…): Three Bodies Boiled for the Price of Two

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One thought on “Exraordinary Rendition

  1. Yvonne on said:

    Rendering sounds really yukky.

    The Greek custom sounds fine (and very similar to prehistoric practice).

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