KATHMANDU, Nepal- Holy smokes coming up from Hindu funeral pyres, Muslim cemeteries and Buddhist temples are to blame for almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming and the melting of the Himalayan glaciers in Nepal, India, among other South Asian countries, a new study has revealed.
Researchers have long surmised that the religious attachment may be a factor in the level of brown and black carbon which contaminates the air in the region.
According to researchers from US state Nevada’s Desert Research Institute and the Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla University in Chhattisgarh, the impact is “huge” – 23 percent of molecules from human burnt fossil stimulates in the atmosphere.
The researchers measured emissions from marriage ceremonies, funeral cremations, incense sticks in temples and graveyards, mango bark, cow dung, camphor’s leaves, vermillion, and cow urine being burned.
They identified fourteen “deadly” explosive chemical compounds, including methanal, benzene, styrene and hydrocarbon, according to Nature magazine.
The researchers discovered that funeral pyres gave off large amounts of ‘brown carbon aerosol’ gases, which is regarded as the second largest contributor to global warming. They say dark particles remaining in funeral pyres pass towards snow and glaciers causing them to warm and melt.
Much of this religious pollution is neglected since it is covered by human loss and religious worship.
There are millions religious places of worship in Nepal and India. Likewise over 10 million marriages take place every year in India according to the 2011 census.
The research team has further warned the scale of its environmental damage calls for further study on the issue.