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Photo by Ashley Crowther @ashleycrowtherorg for @everydayclimatechange: Funeral processions at a Hindu cremation area on the outskirts of New Delhi. As part of a Hindu ritual, family members are burnt over open wood fires for hours. In Hindu dominated India and Nepal, these practices consume over 50 million trees per year and are a significant source of regional carbon aerosols that have been shown to warm up the atmosphere.
When organic matter is burnt, such as in funeral pyres, dark heat absorbing carbon-rich particles are released and help retain heat in the atmosphere. This phenomenon is exacerbating traditional global warming caused by carbon dioxide in regional areas such as South Asia.
One response to funeral pyres generating particulate pollution is the introduction of electric cremation systems. The systems burn cleaner and more efficiently. However, due to the nature of cremation being of cultural importance and people’s decision to follow the scriptures this makes alternatives a difficult choice for many. —
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