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One day you are driving by a farm and then a week goes by and you drive by that same farm, only to see a huge housing complex in the process of being built. Everywhere you turn there are new buildings built or land being sold to build new houses, companies, churches, or even cemeteries. It is clear that America is running out of land, and as more land is used up, more resources are being taken away, along with animals being pushed out of their homes. An easy solution to this problem is to stop building, but we know that is not going to happen anytime soon because as our population grows we need more housing, and as our economy grows companies will continue to build (Kline).


My solution to this problem is to stop using land for cemeteries, and instead have people be cremated. Cremation is “the practice of disposing of a corpse by burning” and takes place in a crematorium. When a body is cremated it is placed into a ‘cremation container,’ usually a cardboard box or a casket, and then is placed into the cremation furnace. These furnaces reach temperatures between 1400 and 2100 degrees Fahrenheit causing parts of the body, especially their organs to be vaporized. The only remains after being burned for about two hours are small fragments of bone that represent only about five percent of the original body mass (“Cremation”). There are over 109,000 cemeteries in America. Just in 2003, a total of 2,448,288 deaths occurred in the United States ("Cemetery"). As the population grows, more people will be dying and more cemeteries will be needed. One-hundred years from now, all the bodies being currently buried in the traditional manner will have deteriorated. Still, however, the land in which they were buried will be unusable because it is immoral to unearth another person’s remains.


One large problem with traditional burials is the problem of contamination into the groundwater from materials used for preserving and embalming a person. To prevent this contamination, America places the casket inside a concrete vault or liner before burial in the ground. While individually this may not take much room, combined with other burials it will cause serious space concerns over time. This problem occurs throughout Europe and especially in large cities such as Tokyo (“Cremation”). One could argue that cremation is just as bad, if not worse for the environment, because it creates harmful emissions which are released into the atmosphere. These emissions include visible emissions, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen chloride. However, contrary to the opinions of those who contest both methods are equally harmful to the environment, tests conducted on these emissions found that the emissions, without extra environmental pollution control equipment were very low and were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Many religions, specifically Judaism and the Eastern Orthodox Church, are against cremation as a choice of burial though for many reasons. The Orthodox Jews are forbidden by their Halakha (Jewish laws) to use cremation because it is said one’s soul that has been cremated will remain a wanderer for the rest of eternity. Also, strong negative emotions are brought back to the Jewish people when reminded of the mass executions through cremation having occurred during the Holocaust. Until the Pope, in 1963, raised the ban on cremation, the Roman Catholic Church was strongly against the practice because it was seen as the most sacrilegious act towards the Christian belief in the resurrection of the body. Now, the priests prefer to at least give a proper burial ceremony to the deceased body before cremating them (“Cremation”).


Another reason cremation is a good resolution to this problem is that cremation is cheaper than that of a traditional burial. During a traditional burial you pay for the cost of the casket, the plot of land, and the ceremony, in which the overall cost ranges from $1,500 to $15,000. In cremations the only cost particularly necessary is that of the cost for the actual cremation process which is between $200 and $300 ("Cemetery"). It is up to the family what type of casket, if any the body is placed in while being cremated.


Cremation, while being unorthodox, clearly has its advantages in our current society and should be considered as a possible solution to our current issue of loss of land. This solution is viable because no matter how much our society may argue about building on land, destroying our forests, and demolishing our farmland, these practices will never cease, as our society will never cease to grow. For this reason, why should we not do as much as possible as we can now to try to minimize the problem for future generations? Stopping the use, or even simply decreasing our dependence upon cemeteries is at least a start to saving our land and animal life.




“Cemetery.” __Wikipedia__. 3 March 2005. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation>



“Cremation.” __Wikipedia__. 3 March 2005. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation>


Kline, Gary. "Governments Should Reduce Resource Exploitation." Journal of Third World Studies. 1998. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. 25 March 2006 <http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/OVRC>

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