Episode 9 – Human Composting and the Curse of the Petrified Forest

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On this very special Halloween episode, we tell the creepy-crawly of environmental stories, including a new process for composting human remains and a supernatural motivation to follow the “Leave No Trace” principle. Plus, we make time for human skin books, barbecued grasshoppers, Indiana undertakers, and a few personal ghost stories.

*An important disclaimer: in the intro and our first story, we talk openly about death and the end-of-life process, so if you’re not into that, you can skip to Elise’s story at 33:45.

Before we get into the main stories, Olivia describes an amazing makeup tutorial for the Corpse Bride’s Emily (that we misidentified as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas — oops), if you’re looking for some Halloween costume inspiration.

Elise brings up one of her favorite podcasts Ologies and their episode on Anthropodermic Biocodicology, aka the study of Human Skin Books aka the kind of leather you probably didn’t want to know about. They have loads of other Fall and Halloween themed episodes if you need more spooky science content in your life.

Olivia describes the time she ate a barbecued grasshopper – would you ever eat a bug?

Story #1: Human Composting (Olivia)
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The future of death care is just around the corner. 🌱

A post shared by Recompose (@recomposelife) on


Science Alert, December 10 2019, The World’s First Human Composting Facility Will Turn You Into Soil
Recompose, Recompose.life 
Undertaking: The Podcast, Episode #185, Human Composting with Micah Truman, Founder of Return Home
Chattanooga Times Free Press, August 22 2020, Human Composting: America’s newest end-of-life option
How Stuff Works, May 10 2019, Mushroom Burial Suit Creates Life After Death
Coeio (co – e – oh) formerly Infinity Burial Project, Coeio FAQ
Let’s talk about human composting | Katrina Spade | TEDxOrcasIsland 
Treehugger, How to Turn a Human Body Into Compost 
Technology review, October 21 2020, Recompose Startup Turning Human Bodies Into Compost  
Green Burial Council, Educational Tools 

Story #2: The Curse of the Petrified Forest (Elise)
Via the National Parks Conservation Association

Fines, signs, and curses – some parks will do anything to keep you from taking their natural materials. Elise runs through the history of Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, and why if you take a rock, you might be coming home with a bit more than you bargained for.


Criminal, Episode 23 – Triassic Park 
The New Yorker, January 23 2015, Rocks, Paper, Sinners
The Ice Plant, Bad Luck, Hot Rocks edited by Ryan Thompson and Phil Orr
National Park Services, Leave No Trace

The Dump

Olivia loved the documentary The Mole Agent, about an elderly man who becomes a spy at a nursing home. It’s funny, super sweet, and not quite like anything you’ve seen before. You can rent it for $12 via Miami Film Festival, and it’ll be available on PBS in early 2021.

Elise has been watching Halloween classics like The Exorcist and Poltergeist. We tell our own spooky ghost stories (Olivia says the wrong movie title, classic, but we can’t remember what the real movie is so… ironically, it was probably The Forgotten).

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

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Thanks for listening! Hope you all have a happy Halloween and take care of yourselves. And of course, VOTE!

Ep. 66 – Myths, Part 2: The Overpopulation Myth World Is Burning

This week we're going deep on a controversial topic: human population growth. We talk about the roots of the overpopulation myth, the truths we can glean from it, and the scary ways that both eco-fascists and seemingly centrist figures have joined the population conversation. We take a closer look at the ways we talk about consumption and give tips on how to talk to your social circle when they bring up population fears. Because we don't have to live our lives from the scarcity-minded "lifeboat ethics" perspective! But a climate-just future will take work from all of us. Related episodes: Ep. 62 – Kings, Potatoes, and Pulling Patagonias Ep. 10 – Movements – Hetch Hetchy Valley and Sunrise Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 66 – Myths, Part 2: The Overpopulation Myth
  2. Ep. 65 – Myths, Part 1: Monopolies and The Landlord’s Game
  3. Ep. 64 – Halloween – Aliens and Bigfoot
  4. Ep. 63 – Stars and Movie Stars – Asteroids and Sacheen Littlefeather
  5. Ep. 62 – Kings, Potatoes, and Pulling Patagonias