The demand for Hindu funeral pyres is rapidly deforesting India, environmental groups say. Burning a single body in the traditional Hindu manner requires 600 to 1,000 pounds of wood. With more than 8 million Hindu deaths a year, India burns 50 million trees annually, producing 500,000 tons of ash and 8 million tons of carbon dioxide. “If we don’t come up with a solution for dealing with the dead, we are going to affect the survival of the living,” said Anshul Garg, director of a New Delhi environmental group. The government offers environmentally friendly gas-powered cremations, but only the poorest are sent off that way, as most observant Hindus insist on wood. Garg’s group, Mokshda, has invented an eco-friendly wood-burning crematorium that uses just over 200 pounds of wood per body, but it has yet to catch on.
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