Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses…

Instrumental temperature record of the last 15...
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…or dead carcasses from the side of the road. We are not in a position to be picky. The fuel must flow.

It could become the new heat source of the future: roadkill–the New Green. The policy is in place in Michigan, the industry is grinding up toward higher capacity to cope with carcass rendering to heat your home. Soon, when it gets cold and the juice isn’t flowing to your heat pump, you can just toss a couple of road frisbees in the trunk on your drive home, sit back, turn on the tube and flip up that thermostat. I understand possums are particularly energy-rich what with that grease that makes such good gravy and all.

And on a larger scale, you might consider Vivoleum, a fuel of the future made from the unfortunate human collateral damage of global warming. Let’s not be sentimental here. If our loved ones could light up our life before they succumbed to the slings and arrows of outrageous ecological catastrophe, with a candle made from Vivoleum on your kitchen table, they will continue to give postumous light and warmth.

The latter, an incredible spoof in which the YesMen posed as keynote speakers at GO-EXPO, Canada’s largest oil conference. Apparently, they pulled it off and made their point.

But failing your inclusion in some future Million Points of Light after you’re gone, consider what is to become of your earthly remains in the Green Future. Perhaps you’d rather be pushing up threatened and endangered wildflowers in a nature preserve cemetery:

At the simple entrance to this former farm, an engraved stone perched on boulders says “Foxfield Preserve.” What you see on these 43 acres are rolling hills, wildflowers, tall trees and sky.

What you don’t see is that it’s also the nation’s first nature preserve cemetery operated by a conservation group. Essentially, it may be the cemetery of the future.

The goal is to achieve an environmental twofer — offer natural burials that skip many of the costs of a modern funeral and, after creating a natural cemetery, conserve and reforest land that might otherwise be developed.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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