I've just read the Scientific American story by Sarah Everts called "The Art of Saving Relics" and I found it to be the sort of great science writing that brings up an issue in a way not normally considered. Normally, when we think about the degradation of plastic over time, we think about what a shame it is that it doesn't break down faster. That conservation perspective, of watching plastic fill up our oceans and landfills, is turned on its head by this article which pitches a different kind of conservation related to plastics -- the kind where a museum is fighting to preserve plastics.
The examples given of the objects that need preserving are quite iconic: the acrylic paintings of Warhol, the spacesuits from the original moon landings, and so on. The article tells the stories about the discovery that these plastic treasures are degrading, and the efforts taken to try and find methods to detect the problems and solve them. The descriptions of leaking fumes and discoloration assist the reader in realizing what the museum is up against. Especially compelling to me the decay of old film -- where even digitizing the content is not the same as preserving the original.
This article makes me wonder what else is impermanent that we take for granted today. What else will crumble over time until only the written descriptions remain?