There’s no way it’s illegal to die in the northern-most town of Longyearbyen, Norway, right?!
Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway is the northern-most town in the world and boasts some of the coldest, livable temperatures. Only those devoted to arctic conditions can stomach living there but for those who decide to stay, Longyearbyen can be heaven on earth.
The town began its story as a coal-mining town but is now well known for being the home of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The vault is considered to be the last defense against total agricultural devastation and houses a wide variety of plant seeds from all over the world. The town of Longyearbyen was chosen due to its below freezing temperatures and layer of permafrost, located just below ground.
While the permafrost layer is perfect for seed storage, its not so perfect for decomposing dead things. In most locations around the world, when a human is buried after death, they begin to decompose until there is little to nothing left. In Longyearbyen, the permafrost makes the decomposition process impossibly slow. Because of global warming, it’s more likely that a dead body would rise up from the ground than it is for the body to decompose into the earth. So, is it illegal to die there? Absolutely not. Is it illegal to be buried there? Well, yeah, kind-of.
In the video below, The Atlantic finds out more about the consequences of global warming, the only cemetery in town, and a potential resurgence of the Bubonic plague. Watch: