Interconnected

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Each piece tells a story, and is itself a pixel in a bigger ecological picture. This was from 5 minutes I spent combing a few meters of beach somewhere in Tagum, on the northern shore of Davao Gulf. It helped that the monsoon-driven waves that time were depositing all the debris onto that stretch of beach.

Everything in the Earth, including the natural and the built worlds, is interconnected in a myriad of nuances. One of the first rules of ecology goes along the line of:

“Nothing disappears; everything we throw away ends up somewhere else.”

We don’t have to look far to see this principle in action. Take a stroll at any random beach and take note of the trash that washes up: the kinds, sizes, and possible origins. Multiply this scenario across all the world’s beaches and we start to overcome the deceptive impression of stability we get from looking at the size of the ocean. We start to get a grasp of the scale of the effects that our activities have on the environment. An empty pesticide bottle thrown into a river from far upstream ends up in a beach. Likewise, bits of trash discarded in the middle of the sea eventually ends up back on land. And we haven’t even started to consider the bits of trash that sink, and the bits of trash that degrade into small toxic bits that end up in the food chain.

It’s a worn-out adage, but let’s think of this fact constantly. What we do will most likely make its effects known to us and to others somewhere down the road. Small actions, profound impacts.

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