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


Holisticrocs said...

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

Anonymous 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.

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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