Scientists in Antarctica have discovered microplastics on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Maybe not a surprise since it’s common knowledge that microplastics are in the ocean, and the ocean goes to Antarctica.
But scientists report that they’ve found microplastics in a fresh snowfall. In other words, microplastics are literally falling from the sky.
It’s a tad hard to believe that microplastics have infiltrated the planet so thoroughly, but here we are. The scientists “found a total of 109 particles of 13 different types of microplastic across all of the samples, and an average concentration of 29.4 particles per liter of melted snow.”
The researchers couldn’t determine the origin of the plastics, suggesting that they could have come from the research station or from somewhere outside the continent.
Turning this into a story, what if children start developing allergies to microplastics?
If there was just one child, it could be a bubble-boy situation: keep the allergic person in a climate-controlled room or space and monitor everything they consume. But, let’s assume there are many children born with the allergy.
And there’s literally nowhere on Earth they can go to escape microplastics.
The story starts with one family trying to navigate a medical mystery. Then, the youngest family member, the third child, starts showing worrying symptoms. As the story progresses, we see the mother pushing back on doctors, going from specialist to specialist until they figure out the actual cause of the condition.
After the correct diagnosis finally emerges, we switch to the second part of the story, a handful of years in the future. There are hundreds of children from all over the world who have the allergy.
There is a safe zone, completely sealed off, in the United States that accepts people from all over the world. It’s a show of goodwill from the President and Congress that children suffering from the allergy are allowed to immigrate into the country.
Some parents focus on their own child’s well-being, while others lobby for massive restrictions on plastics. In short, their desire for their children’s well-being manifests in different ways.
The second part of the story focuses on the family dynamics of two very different families, an American one and another from south of the border. We see how they deal with losing their children to the isolated safe zone, what the parents turn to in their time of need, and religion’s role in their lives.
The central conflict and battle occur when a new ruling party takes over the United States government. They pull funding for the safe zone and kick out everyone that’s not a citizen.
Eventually, after numerous legal battles and exhausting all of their options, one of the less-fortunate parents suggests sending the children to the International Space Station, the last clean place accessible to humans.
The new United States government takes the idea and runs with it, creating the next generation of astronauts and the first tendrils of a space-faring society. In their eyes, the children can’t go anywhere else, and they have nothing else to lose by starting the first space colony.
As the story ends, we see the rocket taking the oldest kids with the allergy to microplastics up to space, with promises from the family of future visits. Unfortunately, the less-fortunate family from south of the border are the only ones who realize they won’t see their child in person again.