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And in spite of the copious mounting warnings and catastrophes of the last fifty years (and uncountable tears), the output keeps escalating unabated. More plastic has been produced in the last 10 years than in the whole of the 20th century. Scientists have estimated that if production continues just at this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastics in the oceans by volume than there are fish today…

 

Shopping bags. Produce bags. Potato chip bags. Candy wrappers. (Totally unnecessary) plastic and styrofoam packaging for vegetables and fruits. Mesh produce and seafood bags. Clingwrap. Condiment packets. Single-serve dairy creamers. Butter packets. Utensils. Straws. Cosmetics. Chapstick. Q-tips. Dental floss. Disposable razors. Exfoliating nanobeads. Shower curtains. Cleaning sponges. Plant pots and feeders. Plastic turf clods. Doggy poop bags. Synthetic apparel. Pantyhose. Luggage. Backpacks. Bags. Clothing tags. Electronics components. Computer and tech parts. Disposable cameras (!) Toys and knickknacks. Thumbtacks. Tape. Glues. Contact lenses. Pill bottles. Syringes. Medical tubings. Pens. Lighters. Glowsticks. “Silly string.” Condoms. Tampons. Maxi pads. Diapers. Dental fillings— yes, plastic amalgams with BPA have even been used in fillings for the last 15 years. Etcetera. All of which of course proverbially only scratches the surface.

 

Suffusing seas… lakes, rivers, streams… abutments, jetties, banks… shorelines, gulfs… swamps, lagoons… inlets, estuaries… tidepools, mud puddles… canals… shallows… stagnant, tepid, turbid… drying out, lukewarm, boiling… torpid, inert, hypnotic… sereing, caking, roiling…

 

And then all the other rusting, moldering artefacts of humankind: tin cans, tires, rusted engines, propellers, wheels, pistons, machinery, weaponry, handguns, ruins of buildings and architectures, fragments of monuments and statues, fading mottled artworks— vapid and profound alike, plutonium rods, slicks and droplets of oils, chemicals, tainted biofilms…

 

Swirling about in arrays of decomposition, crusted and jeweled barnacles coating their bellies, marine life feasting on them ruinously, in the shivering gelid waters. Languid and resting, settling into, merging with the sopified soil. Markers of an inventive, industrious, intrepid, cruel, fatuous, and doomed civilization…

 

And I beheld when they had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth its untimely figs, when it is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

 

And the kings and queens of the earth, and the great persons, and the rich persons, and the chief captains, and the mighty persons, and every bondperson, and every free person, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Them that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great Day Of Wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?

 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away

                                        —Shelley



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