The Poetry of Science – Episode 3: Plastic Paradise

This episode uncovers research which has has found an estimated 414 million pieces of human-made rubbish on Australia’s remote Cocos Islands.

Read this episode’s science poem

At the far edges of the world,
Hidden deep amongst the
Raging seas and rising waves
Laze a series of secret atolls and coral coves;
Remote islands that are almost entirely
Untouched by human hands.

Untouched by human hands,
But maimed by the detritus that those hands have wrought.
As coffee lids and toothbrushes
Bathe shamelessly on previously pristine shores,
Ancient bottles of Lilt roll across the dunes –
Their dirty emerald hues diffracting the sun’s light
Across our filthy plastic paradise.
Shampoo bottles and silicon chips rub callously
Against sands that will never again be white.
The carrier bags begin to coalesce,
Contorting to create impossible structures of
Fabricated indifference,
As plastic straws pair up to join in this
Two-fingered gesture to consequence.

These islands were our canary,
One that we had no intention of saving
From artificial asphyxiation,
And which now lies silent
At the far edges of the world;
Untouched by human hands.

By Dr Sam Illingworth

The original episode appeared here

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