*** (3 stars out of 5)
In the category of much bigger problems with no solutions, the people of the Hekaras Corridor have scientific evidence that warp drive is ruining space. Like repeatedly walking across the same stretch of carpet, warp drive is apparently wearing space out. Or maybe something else that makes sense.
Medical transport Fleming and a Ferengi ship had blow outs on this narrow highway thanks to some eco-terrorists leaving mines here. These, uh, 'scientists', I guess you'd call them, Rabal and Serova, have not been able to get the UFP Science Council to listen to them. If warp travel isn't stopped around here, a subspace rift may threaten life on Hekaras II. If warp travel IS stopped, Hekaras II will be effectively unreachable from anywhere interesting.
Serova blows herself up, causing the deadly rift, and thereby proving her theory. Uh, hooray?
Sadly, the Fleming is saved and the problem is temporarily glossed over by saying words that don't mean things.
The Federation Council imposes a warp 5 speed limit on all Starfleet vessels until a solution can be found. The Klingons agree to it, (they're famous for their willingness to relent and abstain) but will anyone else? Picard ponders what damage he might have done in all his years just trying to travel places and meet people.
"We still have time to make it better," Geordi hopes.
I guess Spot is the titular "Force of Nature". Not only a shape-shifter who changes breeds, Spot now changes gender. And seized the best bits of the episode for herself. She's clearly the villain of the piece, subject to the same vengeful rages as her murderous metal master. And I think we've all learned a little something about the environment. At some point in our lives. (The three stars are for hearts in the right place. And because I really DO love kitties.)