earth, a closed or open system

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After reading the below except from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace,

“…The human species is a very young species–we appeared on the Earth only recently. Before that, we were rock, we were gas, we were minerals, we were single-celled beings. We were plants, we were trees, and now we have become humans…”

I found myself pondering, “is life today the outcome of a recycling process of matter within a closed system?”

In a quick Goggle search (The earth a closed system) I found OERu, an amazing open educational site which offers a course, The Inspiring Challenge of Sustainable Development.  One of the lesson plans, CSF101, notes:

The Earth is a closed system for matter

The Earth is made up of chemical elements – think of the periodic table. That is a list of all basic elemental materials on our planet. Because of gravity, matter (comprising all solids, liquids and gases) does not leave the system. It is a closed box. And, the laws of thermodynamics, long agreed by scientists, tell us that it’s impossible to destroy matter. So the chemical matter we have on Earth will always be here. The important question is, how are those chemicals organised?

The Earth is an open system for energy

It is accepted science that the Earth is an open system for energy. Energy radiates into the Earth’s system, mainly from the sun. Energy is then radiated back into space from the Earth, with the flows being regulated by the Earth’s atmosphere and ozone layer. This delicate balanced transfer of energy maintains the surface temperature at a level that is suited to the forms of life that have evolved and currently exist.

While the course CSF101’s discussion centers on global warming and climate change it seems to correspond with Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings that at one time I was a tree, a rain drop, a cloud, a dandelion.

Today, a participant in Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.