I know, I know, just the name “Soylent” conjures up all sorts of visions of bizarre things. For those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the film “Soylent Green”, suffice it to say that it’s a dystopian view of a future where dead humans are turned into food to feed living ones. It’s something that is so repugnant as to defy the imagination, however, Soylent Green is perhaps just the first in a string of such ideas.
“The Yes Men,” imposters who represent themselves as advisors to corporations and groups such as the World Trade Organization presented just such an idea to WTO to feed starving populations in the Third World: turning human waste into hamburger-type patties in an efficient recycling machine that takes the process from pootie to patty. Sorry, but they made a very funny documentary that if you haven’t seen, is worth renting.
The human world bans such shocking practices, but we get a hint of these types of things in the practice of “intra species recycling,” or animal feed cannibalism that caused an outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Enchaphalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease, where cows were fed bovine parts in their feed. The idea that feeding animals to themselves would be successful is counterintuitive, that is, since we know what happened in Papua, New Guinea. Kuru is still a problem.
But, maybe there are other less repugnant, less dystopian scenarios utilizing similar concepts of ‘recycling’ that could be applied to an overpopulated, energy-starved world. Humans are plenty creative, that’s for sure, and now, for the news that inspired this post:
A crematorium in Halmstad, Sweden has come up with an idea to recycle heat produced from cremations to warm its own facilities. As if that’s not enough, it soon plans to provide heat to homes in the town. To be fair, the idea came up in response to its pollution problem, and you cannot argue that this is a creative solution. But it sounds like Soylent Heat to me!
Writer, editor, photojournalist, and cartoonist, Beverly Spicer is a diarist of almost 200 volumes of illustrated journals and author of two books. Her undergraduate degree is in physiological psychology and biology, and she holds a Master of Science in Architecture in interdisciplinary studies, combining architecture, neuroscience, and Middle Eastern studies. She is E-Bits Editor for The Digital Journalist, an online magazine for visual journalism. Earlier in her career, she was a researcher in animal physiology at the University of Virginia, later was programming associate at KRLU-TV Public Broadcasting Station, and before that worked at Texas Monthly magazine in Austin.