Ecologically relevant data are policy-relevant data

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Science  03 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6290, pp. 1172
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8697

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History tells us that the motivation for new environmental policy is much stronger when there is demonstrated ecological impact. Multinational agreements to stop the use of DDT followed the precipitous decline of predatory bird populations. Similarly, decisions to regulate emissions to prevent acid rain followed widespread degradation of aquatic habitats. Ideally, environmental policy should be catalyzed by scientific evidence rather than environmental catastrophe. As scientists, we can do our part by providing evidence that is relevant to the natural environment. On page 1213 of this issue, Lönnstedt and Eklöv (1) take an important step forward in this regard by reporting ecologically relevant evidence on a growing environmental issue: microplastic pollution.