A grave concern: Coronavirus highlights burial plot shortages in cities

first_imgTopics : 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.center_img “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.last_img read more

Coming of age: Bielema ready for Big House test

first_imgThis Saturday, Badgers head coach Bret Bielema will enter the Big House for Wisconsin’s Big Ten season opener, attempting to become just the second UW coach since 1919 to begin his career with four consecutive victories.However, a historic fourth win, elusive to many Wisconsin coaches including the legendary Barry Alvarez, will be difficult to record.The Badgers face many unique obstacles when they travel to Ann Arbor to face the No. 6 Wolverines. To start, the Badgers’ inexperience means most have not played at Michigan Stadium, the largest and one of the most intimidating places to play for a visiting team.But Bielema dispelled concerns about not playing well because of such a distinctively large and hostile atmosphere.”There has been a lot said about Michigan Stadium and all that goes with it,” the first-year head coach said. “I do know that as someone who has been in that stadium, it’s not a place where good things can’t happen for visiting teams.”Week 3 MVPsBielema handed out the coaching staff’s Players of the Week for the third game of the season. Tight end Andy Crooks was the offensive selection, who contributed more than just his one catch for 11 yards on the day.”[It was] probably his most complete game of the year to this point,” Bielema said of the SDSU game. “[He] made a great catch down there in the red zone, as well as did some things in the blocking schemes and protected our quarterback.”On the defensive side, linebacker Mark Zalewski shared honors with defensive tackle Jason Chapman, who Bielema praised for his ball-hawking ability against the Aztecs.”Jason, in particular, of all his games to this point really got off the football, got some penetration,” Bielema said. “He [also] caused that sack later on that really backed them up.”Punt returner Zach Hampton, who also fills in at free safety and on punt coverages, received Special Teams Player of the Week honors.”He gets his most notoriety for his ability to catch the football with a little bit of traffic,” Bielema said. “We have tried to instill in him the thought of a fair catch is not a bad thing every once in a while.”Rounding out the award winners were Offensive Scout Player of the Week Allan Evridge and second-time nomination Terrance Jamison for Defensive Scout Player of the Week.Coming in as the underdogWhile the young Badger coach acknowledges that the talent-laden Wolverines are favored in next week’s game, he downplayed any idea that the Badgers would not be able to compete against the highly ranked Wolverines.”According to the way things work out, every game is going have someone that is favored and somebody who is the underdog,” Bielema said. “So if we are the underdog this week, it’s probably a new position for us, but its not going to change up the approach we have.”The last time the Badgers upset a Michigan team ranked this high was over 25 years ago, when they beat the then top-ranked Wolverines 21-14 in Madison. Even though history is against him, and Bielema acknowledges Michigan as a very worthy and competitive opponent, he sees reason to be optimistic.”What I see from Michigan is there are a group of players that have experience, and they are able to execute,” Bielema said. “The great thing is, the reason we play on Saturday is to give everyone a chance, it’s 11 on 11.”Injury ReportBadgers defensive end Jamal Cooper (shoulder), who sat out last week’s game against San Diego State, has resumed practicing with the team and is expected to play against Michigan, according to Bielema.Meanwhile, defensive lineman Justin Ostrowski (knee) remains out indefinitely.”Justin Ostrowski, on the other hand, will be held out of this game,” Bielema said. “[He’ll be out] for an extended period of time, and that really doesn’t look to change in the near future.”last_img read more