Last night my boyfriend Garron asked me did I know what the Butterfly Effect was. I said I thought I did and asked was it something to do with a small action potentially creating a great one. He nodded and went on to describe to me how something so delicate as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can create something so powerful as a hurricane on the other side of the world. Like wow.
To clarify the butterfly effect, in chaos theory is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
The term, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model with initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner would fail to reproduce the results of runs with the unrounded initial condition data. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.
Garron then voiced his concerns about could the Microsoft data storage systems under the North Atlantic Sea change our environment through a series of small effects on the local water temperature; its very own butterfly effect. We don’t know, we are only throwing about ideas and theories but his words today resonated through my conscience as I ran in the hills. As I let my thoughts wander guided by my feet on mother earth, our recent conversation came into my thoughts.
Could something so small as the heat generated from this data storage centre (created to be environmentally helpful!) do something to change our whole pattern of climate, the directions of the wind, the currents of the ocean; could that small subtle change in the temperature of the sea have an effect on the rest of our planet?
I don’t know enough but I do know that there is a delicate balance in our world and as humans we keep pushing that beyond the point of rebalance and without a doubt in my mind my feelings are, that there will be consequences.
As I mentioned, I went running today. It was a soul run; a “called to nature” run and I went far farther than instructed by my training plan. Some days when given the nudge there is somewhere I am supposed to run, and some insights I am supposed to be given; and this was one of those days.