A Stable Environment

A Coastal Environment Untouched by People

The natural environment continually renews itself, thereby staying in balance. Some natural degeneration of the environment occurs, but it is offset by its natural ability to regenerate itself. When the degeneration rate and the regeneration rate are equal, then the environment is kept in a consistently healthy state. It is constantly changing, but stable. This is called 'dynamic equilibrium'. However, if something happens to affect this balance, then over time the environment can degrade beyond its ability to repair itself.

Your turn to experiment!

In the graph below, the environmental quality is initially constant, at 100%. That's because the regeneration rate the and the degeneration rate are the same, at 5%. Try increasing the degeneration rate, and see what happens to the environmental quality! If the degeneration rate remains high, the environmental quality drops dramatically over the years.

Degeneration Rate

Some thoughts to take away with you

Any factor that increases the degradation rate of the environment more than its natural ability to regenerate itself will cause potentially long-term damage. There are two main ways to fix this problem - increase the regeneration rate, and decrease the degeneration rate.

We can increase the regeneration rate by giving nature a helping hand, for example, by picking up litter or planting trees, or creating nature reserves. We can decrease the degeneration rate by causing less harm to the environment with our human activities, for example, by introducing planning restrictions and preventing pollution of land and water.

Introducing a System Dynamics Model Diagram

The diagram above shows in a bit more detail how Environmental Quality is increased and decreased. It regenerates according to its current quality and the Regeneration Rate, and degenerates according to its current quality and the Degeneration Rate. This model diagram is used to simulate the effect of changing the rates, as you did above with the dial. Simulation is a very powerful method for explaining and predicting the effect of making changes such as these. We'll be showing you more of these models, and giving you a chance to change variables and see the effect in the following pages.


Next, we'll have a look at the effect of tourism on the delicate natural balance we've described on this page.