By David Flemming
Vermont has been exploring less traditional means of taking care of our dead for years. Now, some climate alarmists are suggesting that we may well have to turn to cannibalism if we are to survive climate change.
Magnus Söderlund, a Swedish behavioral scientist and marketing strategist, recently made a guest appearance on a Swedish TV show to discuss how humankind’s diet may change in the future (the show is in Swedish, making it difficult to get a perfect translation). Soderland does not pretend to be a climate scientist, that is, to calculate the chances that our planet would be completely devastated by climate change. Rather, he assumes the climate alarmists are correct and has decided to think about that ways in which the kinds and quantities of food we eat going forward will be altered.
As climate change creates difficult conditions for cultivating certain grains and animals for food, we will be forced to rely on food sources and techniques which are currently outside the mainstream smorgasbord. First on Soderland’s list: grasshoppers and worms. The ick factor may turn some stomachs, but Soderland’s third suggestion would make just about anyone squeamish (if they aren’t squeamish about it, I’m not so sure I would want to go on a wilderness hike with them).
Soderland suggests that humankind may be forced to eat our dead. Owing to his background as a behavioral scientist, he suggests that if some governmental or corporate authorities were to gradually introduce human flesh into our other foods, we could be “tricked” into “making the right decisions” for the good of our planet, and apparently our species. Of course, we would still need government bureaucrats to draft strict regulations of this new food source. Wouldn’t want anyone getting sick from eating cancerous flesh. Maybe the bureaucrats will want to put labels on human flesh: 85% meat / 15% fat, etc.
But this great moral revolution condoning cannibalism could allow us to survive the depletion of other foods. Soderland believes humans are “selfish” for not considering other humans as food. It must seem terribly inefficient to let all those chemicals seep into the ground, their potential wasted due to cultural superstition.
Worse still, is how much carbon dioxide and gets released during traditional burials. Many Americans choose to be cremated for just such environmental concerns. In Vermont, 70% of our dead choose cremation, with an unknown number making that choice for ecological concerns. However, “each cremation consumes about as much fuel as a 500-mile SUV trip. Collectively, cremations release about 250,000 tons of CO2 into the environment annually,” quickening climate change.
Other environmentalists choose so called “green burials” in which individuals choose to be buried closer to the surface without a coffin so that their body’s chemicals can nourish a tree. It will be fascinating to monitor the death debate among environmentalists over the coming years. Personally, I hope they favor feeding our bodies to trees rather than our neighbors.
Cannibalism shock factor aside, Soderland’s remark about “making the right decision” promoting cannibalism to avoid “selfishness” flies in the face of our most sacred traditions. As GK Chesterton said: “tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”
Part of that tradition involves environmental stewardship, but only up to the point where some suggest stripping ourselves of the human dignity in our bodies. I’d bet that our Vermont ancestors would object to cannibalism just as strongly, if not more so than this current generation, and not just for the “selfish” reason of not wanting their brains to end up in someone’s stomach. We believe that human souls and bodies are sacred, and those who tell us otherwise ought not to be trusted.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.