What happens when climate change ravages graveyards?

I spend more time than I probably should wondering when the luxury condo trend will finally come for the dead. Real estate is expensive, and there's lots of valuable land in urban areas that could be used for yet-another fancy steel-and-glass skyscraper used to hide foreign money—if it wasn't for the cemeteries that currently take up all that space. I even have a half-finished short story in a notebook somewhere riffing on the classic Stephen King scenario of towns built on Native American burial grounds, except it's just luxury condos built up on the corpses of, well, everyone.

But I was thinking too far ahead. Because I didn't stop to think about what happens to those graveyards now, as flooding and earthquakes and more extreme weather disturb the soil under which our loved ones have been laid to their eternal rests. As a recent article in Scientific American gruesomely details, coffins are already body-surfing through the streets of Louisiana during storms:

The caskets and their surface vaults are sealed airtight, so pressure builds inside them when a hurricane or flash flood covers them in water. Moisture weakens the vault seal, and eventually the water begins to bubble with dead air—the tell-tale sign a casket is ready to pop out of its grave, Hunter said.

“You hear the bubbles, you see the bubbles, and you know that seal is weakening because of that immense amount of pressure. And then the lid comes off,” he said.

The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough. Read the rest

Paolo Bacigalupi's "A Full Life": climate apocalypse with a side of intergenerational warfare and science denial

Paolo Bacigalupi's (previously) A Full Life is a new short story in MIT Technology Review that traces the hard young life of Rue, whose family has to move and move again as climate disasters destroy the places they try to make their homes: the water for their ecologically sound farm dries up, then Austin becomes unlivable when heatwaves spike rolling blackouts, then Miami is washed off the map by a string of floods that overwhelm the levees built to "American standards" that were cooked by US oil lobbyists, and then life in New York comes to an end when a global financial crisis wipes out the last family member with any money -- an uncle who was an investment banker who ends up losing all the money he made shorting Miami when the crash comes. Read the rest