Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.
I like walking on the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
As I walk this morning, waves gently wash ashore. The tide is low, but I see what the overnight lowering tide delivered – a vast smooth walking area of tightly packed sand that makes walking very easy. This is optimal – but the beach wasn’t this way yesterday. How will it be later today with the tide much closer to the high point than the low? How will the beach appear tomorrow? Time will tell.
Looking across the vast water, I wonder about the amount of water covering the surface of our blue planet. Let alone the water in the air and below the surface that none of us see.
If a plastic bottle had holes in its side, everyone knows water entering the bottle would flow out the holes. Yet, we can maintain a steady water level inside the bottle if the amount of water entering the bottle is the same as the amount of water exiting. The water is constantly changing, but the amount of water in the bottle stays the same. That’s a dynamic equilibrium.
As I watch the waves roll toward the beach, water evaporates from the sea’s surface. I can’t see it happening, but I’m confident that it is because this process occurs constantly. Yet, a variety of weather conditions affect the rate. Let us not forget that water returns to the surface from the clouds as precipitation. Just as the water with each wave does not stay onshore and returns to the sea, water moves from the sky to the surface – then from the surface to the sky. That’s a dynamic equilibrium.
Carbon also moves in a cycle through nature. From the carbon in the air as carbon dioxide to the carbon in food that we eat as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, we return carbon to the air as carbon dioxide. Green plants take in that same carbon from the air, then the carbons move through every food chain in life. Nitrogen, another essential for life, moves in a similar pattern. That’s a dynamic equilibrium.
The cells in the sea have water constantly entering and leaving them – yet, under normal conditions, they don’t burst or shrivel. That’s a dynamic equilibrium.
Recycling materials from our daily waste stream to return them to a usable product is similar to nature cycling renewable resources such as water, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – an example of human involvement in dynamic equilibrium.
Populations in nature have a natural fluctuation – sometimes below average – other times above – yet constantly rolling around an average. Respectful hunters know that game wardens establish limits based on natural populations, which preserve the population’s balance. This constant change around an average is a dynamic equilibrium.
Calcium, a primary component of shells, returns to the sea as the shell slowly dissolves. Whether on the beach or in the water, the decaying fish is part of nature’s method of recycling matter. Yes – nature’s way of intertwining birth to death and dust to dust. These actions and others like them are very much about a dynamic equilibrium.
As I watch birds fly searching for food, I think about nesting habits – especially migratory birds. Springtime is a flurry of activity with birds building new nests as preparation for the mating season. Birds make new nests while old nests fall from the trees left to be recycled into the soil by decay. In nature, building and destroying habitats is ongoing – that’s a dynamic equilibrium.
I look around to see various reminders, shells of calcium, water of hydrogen and oxygen with sodium chloride dissolved in the sea’s water – let alone phosphorus and other minerals – the carbon in all living things, as well as the nitrogen in their proteins. Each of these elements cycling through nature is a dynamic equilibrium.
On a grander scale, these elements came from supernovae, and to think they have been cycling for a very long time is an overwhelming thought – but sharing elements with the stars is also dynamic equilibrium.
Sands on the beach shift daily – yet it remains sand. Shifts are more during gusty winds and violent storms such as hurricanes, which can be strong enough to open new water channels while closing others. Yes, the daily changing of the beach that I see is a dynamic equilibrium.
Dynamic equilibrium – the ever-changing state of balance that occurs all the time. Some processes are slow, others fast – but all are important in life as we know it here on our planet. Thanks for letting me regress to my teaching days as a walk – especially as I walk today on the wide swath of tightly packed sand. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have posted about Dynamic Equilibrium
- Delicate Equilibrium (an essay)
- Equilibrium Maintained (a poem)
- What is Life Without Health? (an essay)
- Homeostasis (a related beach walk)
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