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Index 38: Translation Notes
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Hello again, Student and Traveler! Today’s topic for human cultural studies is:
As excavation of EARTH ruins have shown, humans left a huge amount of debris in the wake of their extinction. Many, if not most, of this debris was found in the form of PLASTIC. PLASTIC is the human term for a few kinds of reconstructed and synthesized fauna. Most of this fauna consisted of ALGAE which had become a thick, viscous chemical known as OIL before finally being refined into PLASTIC through humanity’s rudimentary chemistry.
The invention of man-made PLASTIC was revolutionary for human technology and is often cited as the most important substance for exo-anthropologists to study. Although many PLASTIC substances are organic in origin, they do not break down as easily as other common human building materials, such as bones and TREEs. By the time the first exo-anthropologists located and traveled to EARTH, almost all human-manufactured biodegradable materials which were not preserved in some way had dissolved away. PLASTIC, however, lived on.
PLASTIC was useful for humans because it was thick, malleable, and easy to produce. While some PLASTIC was weak enough to be broken by human hands, some man-made PLASTICs have been found to be more durable than all but the toughest metal alloys. Humans used PLASTIC mainly to store goods, but they also made a great deal of things from the material, including toys, clothing, pipes for IRRIGATION and waste disposal, and even several key components in their surprisingly successful attempts at interplanetary travel. Because it was more durable and lighter than TREEs or most METALs, humans quickly remade old technology with PLASTIC, a decision they would soon regret.
Humans were infamously bad at resource management, especially when it came to disposing of waste. PLASTIC is a shining example of this. Throughout most of their history, humans had done away with waste by burying it in a remote location and waiting for natural degeneration to recycle these substances for them. Unfortunately, as human population increased, waste built up exponentially. Humans designated tracts of land as LANDFILLS to store their garbage. This only became worse with the advent of plastic, which as noted before does not degrade quickly. Humans attempted burning their waste, leading to the infamous CLIMATE CHANGE scenario and dirtying the EARTH atmosphere. Large human cities like LONDON and BEIJING had such polluted air that the residents had a hard time breathing and developed deadly diseases. Chemical waste was often thrown into the OCEAN, killing whole species of FISH and plant life, or even placed directly into the non-salinated water humans needed for sustenance. By the time EARTH was explored by Intergalactic Commission scientists, several continent-sized masses of waste composed mostly of PLASTIC and radioactive substances could be found in the OCEANs. Besides its single natural moon and many man-made satellites, EARTH is still orbited by a massive amount of human waste.
It is obvious to even the most idealistic exo-anthropologists that humanity’s poor waste management contributed largely to their extinction. PLASTIC was considered an incredible leap forward in human technology, but it also became a deadly plague to their planet. This is a recurring theme in human society and culture.
Before you continue in this guide, please answer the following questions about relevant terms in this chapter. An exo-anthropologist is you!
- Humans came up with many ways to dispose of their waste, most of which were incredibly detrimental to their planet and species. Given the limited scope of human technology, how would you have helped humans clean up EARTH?
- PLASTIC was most commonly used to package commercial goods. How would this effect the human economy?
- One human poet wrote “Do you ever feel like a PLASTIC bag drifting through the wind, ready to start again?” This metaphor was only possible due to PLASTIC’s convenient light weight and the eventual human need to recycle goods. Given PLASTIC’s positive and negative attributes, how does this poem reflect the eventual legacy of the human species?
Thank you for reading PLASTIC. What topic would you like to explore next?