Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Is The Circle Of Life Still Relevant In Modern Day Society?


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 oddtiger

oddtiger

    Curious

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 24 December 2017 - 01:06 AM

Is the circle of life (more specifically the process by which bacteria breaks down our bodies when we die) still relevant in modern day society or has it essentially been replaced by organic fertilizers(i.e poo)? If it still is relevant (i.e nutrients spread from graveyards to farms somehow) then is there a mathematical upper limit at which point the nutrients gained through the circle of life are not needed for farming? For example if we bury 10 million people this year (random number) vs 11 million, are those extra million people needed to sustain-ably keep using soil for crops?I know it’s a weird question but when you look at farming you start to question if the circle of life has been replaced by science in some way.

 

Also, there's cremation to consider which according to another forum releases C02 and H20 which is then used by plants eventually(edit), so my question there would be what is lost through cremation of say animals? If I ate an animal vs the plant life that would grow through cremating it would it be the same gain food wise or is common sense right that's it's more efficient and more food for humanity to eat the animal rather than relying on some potentially imperfect process like the emission of H20 and C02?


Edited by oddtiger, 25 December 2017 - 05:44 PM.


#2 Farming guy

Farming guy

    Explaining

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 986 posts

Posted 24 December 2017 - 05:25 AM

I am unaware of any culture where human remains are used for fertilizing crops.

 

Most modern American farms utilize nutrient management planning.  We have soil samples analyzed for key nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium, and organic matter (mostly carbon) ,and we add the nutrients based on the needs of the crop being grown.   Maintaining organic matter in cropland is important because the nutrients chemically  bind to the organic matter and effectively store them for later use as the plants grow, and it helps reduce nutrient runoff into lakes, streams, and oceans.

 

Those of us involved in livestock farming also have the manure analyzed in a lab to determine the level of nutrients available for use as fertilizer.  When the nutrients in the manure are insufficient, commercial chemical nutrients can be purchased.  Since much livestock in manure is high in phosphorous (which can cause algae blooms in water bodies), nitrogen is likely be the most common nutrient that needs to be purchased

 

Maintaining a nutrient management plan is not unlike the accounting profession.


Edited by Farming guy, 24 December 2017 - 09:40 AM.


#3 oddtiger

oddtiger

    Curious

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 24 December 2017 - 03:52 PM

Right, that's my point/question the circle of life doesn't really contribute to humanity right? Ultimately the whole bacteria breaks down our bodies thing doesn't really lead to a circle.



#4 exchemist

exchemist

    Creating

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2914 posts

Posted 24 December 2017 - 04:09 PM

Right, that's my point/question the circle of life doesn't really contribute to humanity right? Ultimately the whole bacteria breaks down our bodies thing doesn't really lead to a circle.

In our society, no. But in others it can. For example the Parsees leave the dead on top of "towers of silence",  to be eaten by vultures.



#5 Farming guy

Farming guy

    Explaining

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 986 posts

Posted 25 December 2017 - 06:25 AM

Right, that's my point/question the circle of life doesn't really contribute to humanity right? Ultimately the whole bacteria breaks down our bodies thing doesn't really lead to a circle.

In some societies and religions, efforts are made to preserve the bodies after death, either for use in the afterlife, or for the resurrection , as many Christians believe is supposed to happen.  For those who prefer cremation, many elements within the human body will be going up the smokestack and dispersed through the atmosphere,leaving mostly mineral compounds in the ashes. Then, some people have their ashes spread on the ground in a favorite location, so in those situations the "circle of life" would be both relevant and literal. 



#6 oddtiger

oddtiger

    Curious

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 29 December 2017 - 08:06 AM

I’m just a physics student but I tried to compare all the facts for food production vs the circle of life and I’m sure the following interpretation of all the facts is riddled with a fair amount of holes but based on what I’ve been told and my own research I’ve tried to compare the options in optimal conditions, assuming there are no concerns like epidemic for the specific animal and ignoring the disturbing nature of some of these methods just for the sake of logical comparison.

 

Option a) I or someone eats the animal obtaining some organic molecules/some energy and the organic transfer isn’t perfect but unless there’s some big difference in efficiency (between eating a plant and animal) enough to tilt the scales between the options then I wouldn’t see that as relevant?

 

Option b- If I could bury it on a farm (theoretically for argument’s sake) it would enrich the soil and contribute to all the natural cycles like the carbon and nitrogen cycle probably but I could instead achieve the same soil enrichment part using fertilizer “mined” from sources like poo or apparently air and water so option a) plus just using fertilizer instead should result in more gain food wise?(i.e 100% for burial vs. 120%  from eating and using air/water/poo for the soil enrichment)

 

Option b2) I bury it elsewhere and the same waste of soil enrichment is achieved?

 

Option c) I cremate the already dead animal releasing C02 and H20 which I could theoretically capture using some type of sealed box I guess? And proceed to use that somehow for farming (which may sound messed up but again I’m just considering all the options), but while burning the animal, energy is converted to heat so that would also have to theoretically also be used for farming (which seems legit from one google search =p). So nothing seems to be wasted in an ideal scenario?

 

Option c2) I cremate it elsewhere and the C02 and H20 is used for various other purposes than farming so I would say this is below 100% transfer?

 

Option d) Leave the carcass where it fell and eat the flies.-“ dimreepr”

It’s considered the greener option and is probably essentially equivalent to eating the animal.

 

So my conclusion from the above is that c), a) and d) are fair options for agriculture/farming but depending on the region animals could be thought of as a separate area of food production since farming needs are already met, that and the infrastructure needed for option c) make option a) or d) seem like the best option.

 

Just from the little research I did it does ring true that nothing is wasted in the sense that nothing is lost but where it goes, comes from and how useful it is can be arguably important if one wants to compare the methods in relation to food production.

 

“The circle of life is about more than just food.”

Right I realize this but I’m not suggesting upending the circle of life just trying to see what the benefits of each way are in terms of food just because that’s the purpose that I’m interested in, humans will still ultimately end up contributing themselves in one way or another which leads me to maybe a key question, is there a benefit to a human being and an animal dying separately and contributing to the circle of life vs. a human being eating the animal and then eventually dying by themselves?


Edited by oddtiger, 29 December 2017 - 08:06 AM.


#7 Farming guy

Farming guy

    Explaining

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 986 posts

Posted 30 December 2017 - 05:50 PM

 

I’m just a physics student but I tried to compare all the facts for food production vs the circle of life and I’m sure the following interpretation of all the facts is riddled with a fair amount of holes but based on what I’ve been told and my own research I’ve tried to compare the options in optimal conditions, assuming there are no concerns like epidemic for the specific animal and ignoring the disturbing nature of some of these methods just for the sake of logical comparison.

 

Option a) I or someone eats the animal obtaining some organic molecules/some energy and the organic transfer isn’t perfect but unless there’s some big difference in efficiency (between eating a plant and animal) enough to tilt the scales between the options then I wouldn’t see that as relevant?

 

Option b- If I could bury it on a farm (theoretically for argument’s sake) it would enrich the soil and contribute to all the natural cycles like the carbon and nitrogen cycle probably but I could instead achieve the same soil enrichment part using fertilizer “mined” from sources like poo or apparently air and water so option a) plus just using fertilizer instead should result in more gain food wise?(i.e 100% for burial vs. 120%  from eating and using air/water/poo for the soil enrichment)

 

Option b2) I bury it elsewhere and the same waste of soil enrichment is achieved?

 

Option c) I cremate the already dead animal releasing C02 and H20 which I could theoretically capture using some type of sealed box I guess? And proceed to use that somehow for farming (which may sound messed up but again I’m just considering all the options), but while burning the animal, energy is converted to heat so that would also have to theoretically also be used for farming (which seems legit from one google search =p). So nothing seems to be wasted in an ideal scenario?

 

Option c2) I cremate it elsewhere and the C02 and H20 is used for various other purposes than farming so I would say this is below 100% transfer?

 

Option d) Leave the carcass where it fell and eat the flies.-“ dimreepr”

It’s considered the greener option and is probably essentially equivalent to eating the animal.

 

So my conclusion from the above is that c), a) and d) are fair options for agriculture/farming but depending on the region animals could be thought of as a separate area of food production since farming needs are already met, that and the infrastructure needed for option c) make option a) or d) seem like the best option.

 

Just from the little research I did it does ring true that nothing is wasted in the sense that nothing is lost but where it goes, comes from and how useful it is can be arguably important if one wants to compare the methods in relation to food production.

 

“The circle of life is about more than just food.”

Right I realize this but I’m not suggesting upending the circle of life just trying to see what the benefits of each way are in terms of food just because that’s the purpose that I’m interested in, humans will still ultimately end up contributing themselves in one way or another which leads me to maybe a key question, is there a benefit to a human being and an animal dying separately and contributing to the circle of life vs. a human being eating the animal and then eventually dying by themselves?

Composting is the preferred method of carcass disposition in animal agriculture for animals that either die or must be euthanized.   It accelerates the decomposition and provides for soil enrichment.  I know a couple of people who make a decent living producing compost.

 

The benefit of humans eating animals is that the animals can extract nutrients from plants, like grass, for example, that humans digestive systems will not extract, so in locations where conditions are favorable for producing  forages, animal agriculture may be a more economical endeavor than vegetables.

 

 



#8 oddtiger

oddtiger

    Curious

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 31 December 2017 - 10:16 AM

I thought we could eat grass lol , can you list some examples of when this is favourable or point me to the right google search =p?



#9 Farming guy

Farming guy

    Explaining

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 986 posts

Posted 01 January 2018 - 08:21 AM

I thought we could eat grass lol , can you list some examples of when this is favourable or point me to the right google search =p?

Be careful when researching information to recognize bias.  Google is loaded with bias, and it takes critical thinking to weed through the opinions to find facts.  I did a quick google search using the phrase, "benefits to livestock agriculture", and found lots and lots of links.  The first one I looked at was loaded with pop-up ads and links to political websites, and obviously going to be loaded with bias.  I also saw headlines about how bad livestock agriculture is for the environment and how much it contributes to climate change, so that bias was also obvious.  There is a lot of variation across the Earth in production methods, and some methods produce much less methane than other's, so I don't think it's fair to throw a blanket over the whole system and label everything as "bad".

 

Of course, I have my own bias rooted in my belief that our digestive systems make us omnivores, and the fact that I was raised taking care of cows, which I still do.