Saturday, 9 July 2011

Staggering Statistics!


I read in the Orlando Business Journal, yesterday, that a 2002 Cornell University study reported that:

Each year, conventional burials entomb 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid, 1.6 million tons of concrete, 90,000 tons of steel and 2,700 tons of copper six feet under.

Now that is a staggering! I wonder if anyone has tried to work out how many flowers are laid at the graveside every year?

Perrymead RC Cemetery, Bath

4 comments:

Holisticrocs said...

That's quite scary....
Does the enbalming fluid become bio~degradable eventually, or is that a silly question ?

cemeterytravel.com said...

Wow, the mind boggles. That is a lot of embalming fluid. I wonder how much cement goes into the vaults and such.

Thanks for the link to this story!

Mary Woodsen said...

Those stats are pretty good, since I derived them myself -- but "Cornell study"? Not quite. I was a bit shocked when I stumbled across this misattribution earlier today.

As near as I can trace it, it began with a 2010 radio interview with writer Gail Rubin, author of "A Good Goodbye." She cited a "Cornell report" in the transcript but she probably didn't have her thinking cap on. Gail, who contacted me a couple of years ago while researching her book, should know that just because I'm a science writer at Cornell doesn't mean my stats constitute a "Cornell report."

The straight skinny -- I did the research while writing a squib for Outside Magazine about 10 years ago; the stats went viral after I supplied them to a Society of Environmental Journalists tipsheet. Since I helped found Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, the stats are also up on our website.

And actually, a report I stumbled across a few weeks ago indicates that the amount of embalming fluid could be waaay higher than I calculated. (I'd rather underestimate than overestimate.) But that's another story.

Got questions? Give me a shout.

Laurie said...

Gosh Mary, sorry to hear about the journey of misattribution. One person after another must have perpetuated the myth! I looked at the right statistics via Google and was very interested in the Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve. Absolutely fascinating and very worthwhile! Thank you, I will.

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