The environmental impact of producing and consuming energy seems to be a constant source of debate, with global warming deniers chanting "drill, baby, drill", energy companies pushing desperate measures such as Keystone XL, and ongoing efforts to open up federal lands and pristine arctic regions to more energy exploration. Yet many of us still don't think for a moment about flipping on a light switch (or more importantly, turning it off when not needed).
Putting energy production into a more human perspective, did you know what you're worth, in terms of your own ability to produce electricity? Your body -- your dead, rotting corpse -- is good for 150 kilowatt-hours of electricity production. This concept is now actually being implemented in Europe:
In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity.
A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.
Some might find this concept creepy. Others might be pleased to learn that the process "makes cremation much greener by utilizing its by-products," in the words of cremation engineer Steve Looker, owner and chief executive officer of the Florida-based company B&L Cremation Systems, which is unaffiliated with the Durham enterprise...
"Some might find the concept creepy"? Is that like "some people say..." on Fox? I find the concept downright ghoulish. But then again, maybe I'm just not thinking outside the box. Wouldn't be the first time.
Ashes to kilowatts, dust to dust. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln at Gettysburg, the world will little note, nor long remember what I write here or accomplish in this realm. Still, while my own personal desire upon my passing is for cremation (and I'm an enthusiastic supporter of sustainable energy production), converting the waste heat from my mortal remains into electrons to power some other useless eater's 50" plasma TV just isn't quite my idea of the ultimate season finale.
I guess in the end, we all wind up as some manner of Soylent Green anyway. Worm food, if nothing else.
Morbid practicality, I suppose...