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BBC 6 minute English-Water Burial

BBC 6 minute English-Water Burial

BBC 6 minute English-Water Burial


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Dan: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English – the show that brings you an interesting topic, authentic listening practice and six new items of vocabulary. I’m Dan

Neil: And I’m Neil. In this episode we’ll be discussing Water Burial

Dan: Yes. It’s a bit of a bleak subject, I’m afraid

Neil: Something which is bleak is unpleasant or without hope

Dan: And, do you know what’s really bleak? It’s this week’s question. On average, how many people die each hour

a) six thousand

b) sixty thousand

c) six hundred thousand

Neil: I am going to guess b) sixty thousand

Dan: And we’ll find out if you’re right or not at the end of this show. So, the actual figure is 55m people each year. Now, religious or not, there is a practical issue to be dealt with, which is, Neil

Neil: What to do with the body

Dan: Exactly! So what are the options for the average person

Neil: Well, there’s burial, or there’s cremation

Dan: Burial is when a body is put into the earth and cremation is when a body is burnt. But there are big problems with both. For example, what two things do most people need in order to be buried

Neil: Well, a coffin – or a box to put the body in and a grave. That’s the place the coffin and body go into

Dan: Exactly, but coffins are most often made of wood. In the US they use four million acres of forest every year just to make coffins. And as for graves, cemeteries are beginning to get overcrowded – there’s no space left! After all, dying is not exactly a new thing! It’s been happening for years

Neil: Aha, but with cremation, there’s no space needed. And they burn gas to dispose of the body. That’s got to be better

Dan: You’d think so, but no. I’ll let Sahar Zand, reporter for the BBC, explain why

INSERT Sahar Zand, BBC reporter

During the process, a number of toxins can be emitted into our environment, including mercury from dental fillings. Cremation also has a carbon cost. With the energy used to process one body, you could actually heat a home for the best part of a week in winter

Neil: So cremation can release toxins, or poisons, into the environment and it comes with a very high energy cost – enough to heat a home for almost a week! OK. I can see a smug look in your eye, Dan. What do you have up your sleeve

Dan: It’s the latest thing. Water burial

Neil: Water burial

Dan: This is where the body is put into an alkali solution and heated to 150 degrees centigrade. This breaks down the tissue and leaves only the skeleton

Neil: Interesting

Dan: Yes! It has huge advantages over cremation

Neil: Such as

Dan: Well for one thing, it takes only 4 hours to finish. It follows the same process as when a body decomposes, but quicker

Neil: When something decomposes it breaks down and decays. Ok, anything else

Dan: It uses much less energy. Each body is weighed and then the computer calculates exactly how much of everything is needed

Neil: Ok, it’s more efficient too. Why are you smiling

Dan: This is the best part! Listen to Sahar again

INSERT Sahar Zand, BBC reporter

All that’s left at this point is a brittle skeleton and any artificial implants that they may have had in their body – and they come out almost as good as new. There’s even talk of sending the implants to the developing world, where they can benefit populations that don’t have access to them, because they’re very expensive

Neil: So after the process you have a brittle, or easy to break, skeleton and any implants that they had inside them

Dan: Implants are artificial additions to the body, such as plastic hips or an artificial heart. And they’re clean! They can be recycled and given to someone who needs them! Isn’t that cool

Neil: So, what happens to the skeleton

Dan: It gets ground up into dust and put in a jar to give to the family – exactly the same as a traditional cremation. I love it! Sign me up! Would you like to give it a shot

Neil: Well, I can’t answer that question. But can I have the answer to our quiz question

Dan: Of course. I asked: On average, how many people die each hour

a) six thousand

b) sixty thousand

c) six hundred thousand

Neil: I said b) sixty thousand

Dan: And you, my friend, are dead in the water. Unfortunately, it’s a) six thousand

Neil: Ok. Well that’s probably better, isn’t it

Dan: Yes

Neil: Shall we have a look at the vocabulary then

Dan: Certainly. Our first word was bleak meaning something unhappy, unpleasant or without hope. What types of things do we typically describe as bleak, Neil

Neil: Oh, the weather in the UK can be bleak. It’s very, very dark in the winter. Next we had grave. A grave is a hole in the earth where a body is placed. However, there is another use

Dan: Yes. We can talk about a situation being grave. The outbreak of war is a very grave situation for many people. Then we had toxin. A toxin is a substance which is poisonous. Have you ever been poisoned by a toxin, Neil

Neil: Well, I suppose so, yes. I’ve had food poisoning and that’s caused by toxins. After that was decompose. When something decomposes, it breaks down and decays. Much like when fruit goes bad and turns black and then becomes liquid

Dan: Then we had brittle. Something which is brittle is easily broken. For example, Neil

Neil: Glass, crockery, tiles and some plastic. Crisps! And finally we had implant. An implant is something artificial which has been put into the body – such as an artificial heart or a replacement hip. Would you like to have any implants, Dan

Dan: I’d quite like robotic legs. Then I could run faster than anyone

Neil: Well, we’ve run out of time, so that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon

Dan: And we are on social media too – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. See you there

Both: Bye

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