Connect with us

Planet Earth

City cemetery and its history

Withered trees, rusty gates, crumbling stones, a lonely mourner. These things come to mind when we think about cemeteries. But not so long ago, many burials were busy places with blooming gardens and crowds of people strolling among the tombstones.

How has the city cemetery become what it is today? Some of them have existed for centuries, as the world’s largest, Wadi al-Salaam, where more than five million people are buried. Here, burials have been performed daily for over 1,400 years. But most places that we would call cemeteries are much younger.

In fact, throughout most of human history, we have not buried our dead at all. Our ancient ancestors had many other ways to part with their deceased loved ones. Some of them were left in caves. Others on trees or on top of mountains. Still others were sunk in lakes, sent to sea, ritually eaten or cremated. All of these practices, although some may seem strange today, are a way of worshiping the dead.

The first known burials about 120 thousand years ago were most likely reserved for violators, excluding them from ordinary rituals designed to honor the dead. But the first burials revealed some advantages over other practitices. They protected bodies from scavengers, the influence of the environment, and decay. These benefits may have altered the thinking of ancient people about graves designed to honor the dead, and burial has become a more common occurrence. Sometimes these graves contained household or ritual objects that could be useful in the afterlife.

Community burial sites appeared in North Africa and West Asia about 10-15 thousand years ago. Around the same time as the first permanent settlements in these areas. These burials created permanent places to commemorate the dead. Nomadic Scythians dotted the steppes with burial mounds, the Etruscans built huge network-like streets with tombs, called necropolises, in Rome in the underground catacombs, both cremation urns and intact remains were located.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

The concept of “city cemetery” was first used by the ancient Greeks, who built tombs on the outskirts of their cities. In medieval European cities, Christian cemeteries were located in church yards where the dead were buried, as well as markets, fairs, etc. Farmers even grazed cattle on them, believing that graveyard grass would make milk more sweet. As cities grew during the Industrial Revolution, large suburban cemeteries were replaced by small urban cemeteries. Cemeteries such as the nearly 50-hectare Pere Lachaise in Paris or the 70-hectare Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Massachusetts were lush gardens filled with sculpted stones and richly decorated tombs. Subsequently, the reserved land for the rich and powerful became available to the middle class. People visited cemeteries for funerals, but also for anniversaries, holidays, or just picnics.

By the end of the 19th century, when more public parks and botanical gardens appeared, the city cemetery began to lose visitors. Today, many old cemeteries are secluded places. Some famous cemeteries in the Western world lure visitors with tours, concerts and other entertainment, but even when old cemeteries are reborn, future graves are revised. In cities like London, New York and Hong Kong, the burial place ends. Even in places where space is not so scarce, cemeteries constantly occupy land that cannot be cultivated or developed. Traditional landfills consume materials such as metal, stone and concrete, and can also contaminate soil and groundwater with toxic substances.

Forests over Cemeteries

With increased awareness of environmental issues, people are looking for alternatives. Many turn to cremation and related practices. Along with this, people can now send the remains of the deceased into space, use them to grow trees or make jewelry, fireworks or even tattoos from the ashes of the deceased. In the future, such options may completely replace burial sites. Cemeteries may be our most famous monuments to the departed, but they are just one step in the ever-evolving process of perpetuating and honoring the dead.

Comments

Planet Earth

Alvin Toffler: Rural bioconverters as an alternative to urbanism

The great American futurologist Alvin Toffler gives a chance to the countryside. His prediction is that the countryside will be covered by a network of “bioconverters” where biomass waste is converted into food, feed, fiber, bioplastics and other goods.

The US domestic bioeconomy will be able to meet 90% of the country’s need for organic chemical fertilizers and 50% – the need for liquid fuel. Every million liters of bioethanol produced creates 38 direct jobs. Therefore, jobs are formed not “at the oil pipe”, but in agricultural regions.

American philosopher and futurologist Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi Toffler published the book “Revolutionary Wealth” in 2006. There was no Internet power yet, the heyday of alternative energy and robots, but Toffler was already looking beyond the horizon of our time. For example, he not only draws attention to the fact that “time has become denser” (the same processes a hundred years ago and today are proceeding at different speeds), but that traditional institutions – family and education, bureaucracy and political parties – are increasingly lagging behind the growth rate production, from new values, communications and from the process of globalization. And in this discrepancy between the old institutions and processes of the new time lies the source of the impending crisis.

In the preface to the Toffler’s book, he writes:

“Wealth does not arise only in fields, factories, and offices. Revolutionary wealth is associated not only with money. Currently, even the most stupid observers cannot help but see that the economy of the United States and several other countries is transforming, turning into an intelligent economy controlled by the mind. The full impact of this transformation on the fate of an individual, as well as on the fate of all countries and even continents, has yet to be felt. The past half century has been only a prologue to this transformation.”

Nevertheless, Tofflers in their book also pay attention to the transformation of old institutions – for example, rural production, assuming that, having transformed, it will give people an alternative way of life from the city. We provide an excerpt from the book “Revolutionary wealth” about the new life of the countryside.

“In a stunning document that was not given due attention, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the University of Washington National Defense paints a picture of the world where” agricultural fields will have the same meaning as oil fields.”

Even oil company managers have spoken about the “last days of the oil century.” Dr. Robert Armstrong, author of a report by the University of National Defense, develops this idea by claiming that we are moving towards a biology-based economy, where “gas will be replaced by genes” as a key source of not only various raw materials, but also energy.

At the beginning of the XXI century, American farmers produced 280 million tons of unnecessary leaves, stems and other plant waste per year. Some of this material is already being used, turning into chemicals, electricity, lubricants, plastic, adhesives and, most importantly, into fuel. This, however, is only the beginning. Armstrong anticipates that the countryside will be covered by a network of “bioconverters,” where biomass waste is converted into food, feed, fiber, bioplastics, and other products. He quotes from the 1999 report of the National Research Committee, which states that the US domestic bio-economy “will be able to satisfy 90% of the country’s need for organic chemical fertilizers and 50% of the need for liquid fuel.”

And this applies not only to America. In such an economy, Armstrong continues, “genes will be the basic raw materials, and they can be found everywhere, unlike oil.” Thus, he predicts a gigantic geopolitical shift in power from desert oil powers to tropical regions characterized by a rich and diverse biosphere.

“In the world of biotechnology,” Armstrong writes, “our relationship with Ecuador (a representative country) will become more significant than our relationship with Saudi Arabia.” Reason: Ecuador has a much greater diversity of the biosphere, and therefore – a variety of genes that have potential value for the whole world. If this is true in the case of Ecuador, what about Brazil? Or Central Africa?

The Eden project in Cornwall, England, launched by Tim Smith, is the largest greenhouse in the world. Smith believes that “we are on the eve of the greatest revolution. From plant materials we can produce composite materials that are more durable than steel and Kevlar. The possibilities for its use are phenomenal. Every country in the world can possess modern materials derived from its own plants.”

Eden Project in Cornwall

Moreover, Smith continues, “bioconverters should be built close to sources of raw materials. It is likely that regional agricultural crops will be actively developed, and special crops will be grown in certain regions to supply local bioconverters. The result of this process will be the creation of non-agricultural jobs in agricultural areas.”

Armstrong concludes:

“An economy based on biotechnology can ultimately stop the process of urbanization.”

North America plans to plant empty fields with Miscanthus, a giant elephant grass. Studies show that from one hectare it is possible to obtain by burning such an amount of fuel that is enough to replace 40 barrels of oil.

An example of Russia

In Russia, it is technically possible now every year to use about 800 million tons of wood biomass, which is not currently used in timber harvesting, and about 400 million tons of dry matter of organic waste, and 250 million tons of them of agricultural origin , 70 million tons of forestry and woodworking industry, 10 million tons of wood and hardwood waste (collected annually in cities), 60 million tons of municipal solid waste (mainly pulp and paper products and plastics) and 10 million tons other waste (for example, precipitation of municipal drains, etc.). Their processing potentially allows you to get 350-400 million tons of oil equivalent per year and open up to 500 thousand new jobs.

US example

Every million liters of bioethanol produced creates 38 direct jobs. Therefore, jobs are formed not “at the oil pipe”, but in agricultural regions. The raw materials for most bioeconomic products are sugar (glucose), starch (sugarcane) or cellulose (straw, sawdust). One of the most modern bio plants is the Dupont plant, which produces 100 thousand tons of corn bioplastics per year. This bioplastics surpasses nylon in cost price and consumer qualities.

Continue Reading

Planet Earth

Silvery clouds alerted scientists

In summer, in the night sky, you can see something truly magical, namely silver clouds or mesospheric clouds. This rare phenomenon got its name because of the flickering effect in the twilight sky. However, despite its beauty ,these clouds can be a wake-up call.

Silvery clouds form in the mesosphere – a rarefied upper atmosphere with a small amount of moisture and low temperatures at an average height of 82 kilometers. The nature of this phenomenon has not been fully studied, however, scientists suggest that clouds form due to scarce water vapor, which freezes, creating crystals. Since the mesosphere is the coldest in summer, such clouds are observed precisely in this season.

The reason this phenomenon is not well understood is that the history of these clouds is relatively young. For the first time they were reported in 1885, and immediately scientists began to talk about the fact that they could appear due to climatic changes.

Now experts are again considering this possible reason, since for many years these clouds were mainly found only in the polar regions. But lately they have been laid much further, and look much brighter. So, on June 21, residents of the UK watched this beautiful phenomenon, although it is quite unusual for these places.

Most of the moisture needed to form clouds comes from methane – a greenhouse gas – that produces water vapor when it is destroyed in the upper atmosphere. And as methane pollution increased, silvery clouds became brighter, and most importantly, noticeable in new places.

Silvery clouds are studied by scientists, both from the Earth and from space, since they are quite high. However, to understand the true cause of the phenomenon, specialists still have a lot of work to do.

Continue Reading

Planet Earth

A clear comparison of all the plastic in the world with New York

A modern person has a huge number of reasons for constant concern. And one of the most pressing concerns is plastic, which is about to evict us from our home planet.

Graphic craftsmen from the MetaBallStudios Youtube channel, specializing in visual comparisons of various things, decided to team up with the anti-plastic organization BeyondPlastic.net and create not just entertaining video, but entertaining and informative. It turned out, in our opinion, a real mini-horror movie.

Here’s what it took to create a horror movie: count all the volumes of plastic, put them together in black bags and compare with the city of New York. The video shares the following information with us:

  • on average, every inhabitant of Europe and America spends 100 kg of plastic annually (if you remember that plastic weighs almost nothing, it becomes uncomfortable);
  • daily in New York (substitute any city with a population of 9 million people) spent 2,300 tons of plastic;
  • 30 thousand tons of disposable coffee cups are thrown around the world every day;
  • 840 thousand tons of plastic are thrown out in New York annually;
  • in 1950, the global consumption of plastic was 1.5 million tons;
  • and today, up to 8 million tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean;
  • 58 million tons of plastic bottles are produced worldwide annually;
  • and plastic bags altogether 100 million tons;

Perhaps, we will stop at this terrible figure – watch the video and understand everything yourself. We urge you to be responsible for nature.

Try to go to the store with a reusable bag, start with a reusable mug if you buy take-away coffee and generally think about the planet. Alas, we have nothing for life better than the Earth. This is proven.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

DO NOT MISS

Trending