Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role (Evolution)

by dhw, Thursday, June 01, 2017, 11:21 (896 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: In the context of evolution, the balance of nature simply refers to whatever organisms and resources exist at the time. When we talk about it now, we mean the balance that exists now, and so when humans introduce foreign species which destroy the status quo, we say they are disturbing the balance of nature.
DAVID: But we are using word games. "There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time"." We are really saying the same thing. If balance is upset it settles back into balance. If humans destroy the balance, it usually settles into a bad balance, which should be corrected. But the balance in eco-niches provides energy as the author tells us. That is my constant point. Balance provides the energy needed.

If the existing balance is upset, it settles back into a different balance, and the new balance will depend on what energy is available. Whatever balance you have at a particular time does not provide energy, but is the result of the energy supply, as you agreed earlier; in turn the organisms then existing (not the "balance") will also supply energy. Please provide a quote from the article that says it is the balance of nature that provides the energy needed. (See also Tony’s comments and my reply on what “balance” actually means.)

TONY: I think that balance, like so many words in the English language, has become somewhat bastardized in meaning. In common parlance, balance has come to mean equilibrium, with the childish idealization of a teeter-totter on a fulcrum sitting perfectly level. (Otherwise known as scales...just saying). This simplistic ideal uses words like 'balance', 'equality', 'similarity', and 'sameness' interchangeably, and loses much in translation. I love these definitions:
a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

We always see proportionality in our complex system; between growth, death, and diversity. Yet, for all intents and purposes, life on Earth has remained largely in a state of balance for as long as we have any real knowledge. Certain elements may rise, fall, or be removed, but each action is countered, allowing the whole system to 'remain upright'. In short, it is largely impossible to completely 'destroy the balance', because the acting of 'destroying the balance' would, in and of itself, simply create a new balance point, and things would keep on keeping on....with or without us.

One needs to explain balance between what. Since different species have dominated at different times, with environmental change a crucial factor, the balance between species obviously keeps changing. But as long as life goes on, there is always some kind of balance. I like the finale of the last quote: “balance” simply boils down to life goes on until it stops.


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