Topics : The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem of scarce burial space in cities, even as health concerns and tight budgets force more families to opt against traditional grave burials, land rights experts said on Monday.As cities around the world have rapidly expanded in recent decades, urban cemeteries have filled up or been dug up to build roads and homes, leading to an increase in cremations.”This trend will continue with urbanization. COVID-19 may just cause us to think about this in the immediate term,” said Peter Davies, an associate professor at the department of earth and environmental sciences at Australia’s Macquarie University. The challenge facing city authorities now – to dispose of bodies quickly and safely – was brought to the fore when a New York City councilman said earlier this month that public parks may be used as temporary burial grounds.City officials refuted the claim, but said some recent burials in a so-called potter’s field on Hart Island, which has been used since the 19th century for burying the poor or those with no known next of kin, included victims of the coronavirus.In Ecuador, authorities are preparing an emergency burial ground on land donated by a private cemetery in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city, to address a shortage of burial plots.Communal graves Cemeteries in South Africa have been asked to identify land for emergency burials, and consider “communal graves” for 20 bodies in the event of many coronavirus deaths, said Pepe Dass, chairman of the South African Cemeteries Association.”South Africa has serious issues with access to land in metropolitan areas, but also in rural areas,” said Dass, adding that conservation and residential developments take precedence, not cemeteries because they are not considered sustainable.”I definitely hope South Africa will become more sustainable in the way we think about burials. This is a wake up call.”As the pandemic brings greater awareness of mortality and consideration of funerary practices, there is an opportunity to rethink how we care for the dead, said David Neustein, an architect in Sydney and an advocate of “natural burial”.”It is the simplest, least energy-intensive alternative we have, and one that is highly compatible with environmental repair and regeneration,” he said of the process in which a body is simply put into the ground in designated areas, casket-free.Neustein had earlier proposed a “burial belt”, where bodies are placed in the soil among newly planted vegetation near towns and cities. It would reforest cleared land and create “near-limitless” land for burial, he said.”It can be implemented much more quickly than conventional cemeteries … and provide lasting green monuments to this terrible time,” he said. “There would be increasing pressure for cremations as a more cost- and space-effective, and possibly safer solution from a disease transmission perspective,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Globally, there have been more than 2 million reported cases of the coronavirus, and more than 165,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally.Before the outbreak, in cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong where even columbaria for urns containing ashes have filled up, historians and conservationists moved to protect the last remaining cemeteries and safeguard their heritage and tradition.In Britain, cities where burials are still the norm have proposed shared burial plots as space runs out.
MORE: There are questions around the 2020 Heisman, but no answers yetESPN analyst Desmond Howard, a Heisman Trophy winner at Michigan, piled on Wednesday on “Get Up” and said that Warren should demand an apology from Nebraska. “If I’m Kevin Warren right now, I’m working on a way to get their ass out of the Big Ten,” Howard said. [email protected] wants Nebraska out of the Big Ten. pic.twitter.com/uQWY26jVJI— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) August 12, 2020The problem is Husker Nation might want to do the same thing anyway. Is that the direction this could be headed in the near or distant future?That’s the question that will need answered soon. Nebraska coach Scott Frost announced those intentions in a press conference Monday before the Big Ten’s final decision. “We want to play no matter who it is or no matter where it is,” he said. “We’ll see how those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten. If it isn’t, I think we’re prepared to look for other options.” To be fair, Ohio State coach Ryan Day made similar comments about exploring all options with athletic director Gene Smith on Wednesday. The Buckeyes also are the flagship of the Big Ten and have been a member since 1913. They aren’t going anywhere. It would be hard for Nebraska to make a move. As the Yahoo Sports report notes, leaving the Big Ten means losing a $50 million revenue share. The Huskers have played football in the conference since 2011, and from a financial standpoint that partnership has helped the program since it left the Big 12. So, what is that true motivation? Is it the financial hardship that would come from missing a season? As in, would Nebraska be willing to lose that $50 million to recover something in 2020 that would help sustain the program now? Scott Frost says #Nebraska estimates $80-120 million hit if there’s no football season. “The biggest factor is if we don’t play football, we’re not going to be able to pay for anything here until we start making money again.”— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) August 10, 2020MORE: Big 12 football schedule for 2020Is that why the Huskers might entertain playing a rogue schedule within a 500-mile radius for one year? That is a chance worth taking only if it is beneficial to cut ties with the Big Ten for good. That seems like too much when everybody else in the conference is not playing. The back-and-forth speaks to what will be a strained relationship between Nebraska and the Big Ten — at least in the short term. In Howard’s laced criticism, he said that Nebraska does not have the same cachet as Notre Dame. That speaks to a Big Ten mindset that trickles down from Ohio State and Michigan and can be felt by new members. Remember, Michigan split that national title with Nebraska in 1997 when Frost was the Huskers’ quarterback. Penn State joined the conference in 1990. Maryland and Rutgers joined in 2014, three years after Nebraska. A cross-section of Big Ten fans would trade any three of those schools for Notre Dame in a heartbeat given the opportunity. So how does Nebraska really feel about the Big Ten in response? In nine seasons, Bo Pelini, Mike Riley and Frost have combined for a 65-50 record, with a 40-36 record in Big Ten play. That includes one Big Ten championship appearance, a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in 2012. The Huskers do not play Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every year and they have taken a backseat in the Big Ten West to Wisconsin, Iowa and, last year, Minnesota. In the nine seasons before that, Frank Solich, Bill Callahan and Pelini combined for a 73-44 record in the Big 12 with a 40-32 record in conference play. The Huskers made the Big 12 championship game three times in that stretch — where they lost to Oklahoma twice and Texas once. Would Nebraska be better off it went back to the Big 12? Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby fielded that question Wednesday. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Nebraska did not reach out at any point following the Big Ten decision.— Dean Straka (@DWStraka49) August 12, 2020That is the dilemma for a program that still is trying to tap back into the Tom Osborne heyday in the 1990s. Nebraska fans have no nostalgic feelings for the Big Ten, but that divorce with the Big 12 still stands. What is the next move? If I’m @HuskerFBNation, I say good riddance Big 10. Always been an odd fit. Love to see a return to the Big 12. And remember, NU has won more NC’s in the last quarter century than any other Big 10 team. Apologize for wanting to leave? As we say in Nebraska, go Husk yourself.— Lars Anderson (@LarsAnderson71) August 12, 2020No matter what happens, the Huskers must show they can play at a national championship level — whether in the Big Ten or the Big 12 — or they will run into the same problem in the future. What is the motivation behind Nebraska’s visceral reaction to the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the 2020 college football season? That is the question one day after the final verdict was rendered, Nebraska offered a scathing response and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told Yahoo Sports that the Huskers could not play college football in 2020 and still be considered a member of the Big Ten. You either deal with Texas and Oklahoma or Michigan and Ohio State. All four of those programs ranked in the top 10 in revenue in 2018-19, according to USA Today. Nebraska finished No. 21. We’ll find out what Nebraska’s true motivation is if it follows through with plans to continue playing football in 2020, but the end game comes with one resolution. Unless the Big 12 is waiting with open arms, then there is no reason not to comply with the Big Ten.