Someone throws out a plastic bag, maybe intentionally or maybe lost on the wind in a moment when they aren’t paying attention, and now there’s plastic in the Mariana Trench.1 Meanwhile, horseshoe crabs evolved a compound to resist infection, and now their blood ensures millions of vaccine doses are safe every year, though at the cost of their own health as a species.2
No matter what we’re trying to get—easier access to electricity, delicious food, a nice day out—nothing happens in a vacuum. Our actions have consequences, both positive and negative, that ripple across the system regardless of intent. So what does happen when we pay attention to the whole, rather than only the parts that are immediately visible? What effects do we learn to look out for, and what unanticipated surprises change the way we think about the impact of our actions? Consider food webs, niches, and global currents—but don’t stop there. A novel perspective is the most valuable of all.
While a connection to watery ecosystems is preferable, it is not required; we do expect a connection to environmental justice. References are appreciated where relevant, in no particular format—this call is for creative rather than academic or journalistic nonfiction.
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