Over the next forty years we shall have to face and solve four outstanding problems: (1) A global population that by mid-century is expected to reach nine billion; (2) finding sufficient arable land to grow the food necessary to feed these increased numbers; (3) the degradation of air, water, and other resources that continues despite various “Green” movements; and (4) the ever-growing dependence on petroleum, a finite product, as a primary source of energy.
Many theories have been offered on how to solve these problems. Unfortunately, to date most are sadly wanting, relying on either pure fiction, faulty math, or wishful thinking. Yet there is reason for hope. The recent issue of Bio-Tech Business Report, a scientific journal, published an article on a small, cutting-edge company in the suburbs of Mobile, Alabama, Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory, which claims to have achieved a groundbreaking technological breakthrough that promises to solve all of these most pressing problems.
The core of the company’s radical solution relates to the challenge of insufficient arable land. As shocking as it may seem, burying the dead in un-tilled fields, given the anticipated growth rate in aggregate deaths resulting from our increasing numbers (when plots are modestly calculated at approximately 8 by 4 foot per individual), will require setting aside rich arable land in acreage equivalent in area to Nebraska and Kansas combined. Sentimentality notwithstanding, this is clearly a grossly inefficient use of valuable land. Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory claims that, since death is a fact of life and whose occurrence will unfortunately increase in the future, especially in the disadvantaged nations subject to increased pollution and decreased social services, what could be more rational and, indeed, humane then finding a way to honor the recently-departed by having their bodies used to the benefit of all mankind?
Most of us know that the adult human body is approximately 70 percent water. What is less well-known is that we are between 13 and 20 percent fat, and with the anticipated future increased consumption worldwide of fast food that figure could well reach 25 percent. Bio-Tech Business Report details Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory’s remarkable technology that uses sonic pulverization to emulsify bodily water and fat to produce a petroleum product. Like that other biological distillation from corn, ethanol, this product from human remains has been successfully proven to power the typical internal combustion engine. Tentative calculations suggest that with further experimentation, Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory’s technology will be able to provide the equivalent of one barrel of usable oil for every five deceased adult bodies. Experiments so far are based on using the bodies of derelict men of color, but it is assumed that the company’s technique will work just as well with deceased men, women, and children of all races.
There is, of course, a potentially insurmountable obstacle: the power of cultural traditions, especially those related to religion. Efforts are being made by religious representatives to make this new approach to death more acceptable, if not today, then in the near future when the world’s growing crisis becomes more obvious and painful to the general public. Religious scholars and consultants hired by Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory are working to find quotations from the Bible and from Eastern religious texts in which the word of God or the Gods might be interpreted as endorsing the company’s sonic pulverization technology for deceased humans. Company representatives hope that a day may soon arrive when it will be seen as a blessing to have the soul of one’s loved one poetically rise to heaven from the tailpipe of a car.
If cultural obstacles can be overcome, Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory calculates that sufficient food to stave off starvation for the future billions will be readily available. Uncontrolled pollution also will be looked upon in a more positive light, since it will result in an increased death rate, and that those deceased, via this new technology, will economically increase the production of oil, allowing the growing number of affluent in underdeveloped parts of the world to enjoy the freedom provided by the automobile’s internal combustion engine hitherto enjoyed primarily in the West.
Bio-Tech Business Report editorializes that what may at first strike one as distasteful to traditional morality must be seriously examined as a viable solution for a planet where consumption greatly outpaces our limited resources. The magazine adds that an additional beneficial factor worthy of consideration relates to the potential financial windfall to poorer countries for monetizing their dead family members through the emulsifying process. This could well play a key role in injecting much needed funds into the local economy. And, of course, it could be a financial bonanza for Mitchell-Mathus Laboratory, which is considering an initial public offering in light of their recent notoriety.