A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

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A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

In Brazil, a butterfly flaps its wings, setting off a chain of events that ends with a tornado in Texas. In layman's terms, chaos theory states that the most unpredictable and seemingly inconsequential events, such as a butterfly flapping its wings, can have a reverberating and unpredictable impact on the most seemingly unconnected systems, such as hemispheric weather patterns.

A wave of discovery – and extinction

9-9-2009

 

"...All the previous "great waves" have had natural causes, such as sudden global warming or cooling or (most recently) a massive meteor strike. Each time it has been the speed of the extinctions that has proved devastating. And speed characterises the new one, the first to have been caused by the actions of one particular species. Extinctions are now proceeding at between 1,000 and 10,000 times the natural rate; it is predicted that half of all current forms of life may have vanished by the end of this century.

Nobody knows for sure, partly because nobody even knows how many species there are on Earth. About 1.9 million are known to science, but this is certainly a small fraction of those that exist. The best estimates suggest that there are around 13-14 million out there, mainly insects; some scientists believe that there may be hundreds of millions.

So for every "known known" of identified species – or even "known gone", like the dodo or the recently vanished Yangtze river dolphin – there are a host of "unknown unknowns". And for every new discovery – even by the prodigious Dr Helgen – hundreds of species perish before they are ever found. Like the death toll, the consequences are incalculable...."

 

This chart shows the dramatic acceleration of species extinction in the last 150 years, from a combination of loss of habitat and other factors, including global warming, which can derive from and contribute to environmental destruction. The rate of species extinction is now estimated at 1,000 times higher than the normal background rate.

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

 

What is the butterfly effect

               

    The butterfly effect is a theory closely linked to chaos theory, and was first proposed by Edward Norton Lorenz in 1961.

It basically examines and demonstrates the effects that seemingly small incidents can have on larger events at a later time. The famous example being that something as small as the fluttering of as butterflies wings could in theory be indirectly responsible for a tornado on the other side of the world.

Although the theory of the butterfly effect has its basis in mathematics, there are many applications in everyday life that can be observed. If most of us think about it there are many pivotal decisions in our lives that changed the entire future of what we became. As well as these seemingly large decisions there are millions of smaller decisions and circumstances we have no control over as well which shape the paths that our lives take.

                  

For example a man goes to work in his car as usual, but his car breaks down half way there. As a result he misses giving a big presentation and subsequently doesn't get a promotion he was looking for. The end result might be that he languishes near the bottom rung of the company for another 5 years, and has substantial debt because of not earning much. This might put a strain on his relationship with his wife, and they then get divorced. This then affects his work and he gets fired a few weeks later. He then gets a different job entirely and finds a new love who he marries.

So as a result of this initial tiny decision (to drive his car to work), the mans life is changed forever. If for example rather than working initially, his car wouldn't start, then his day would have been entirely different. So in the second scenario he has to take the train to work, gives the presentation successfully and gets the promotion he wanted. As a result he is a lot happier and has no debt, meaning his relationship is more stable. He then goes on to have children with his wife, and eventually becomes the head of the company.

So because of one moment his life turns out completely differently, the butterfly effect in this case being that his car starting or not determined a whole sequence of events that got bigger and bigger. These aren't limited to just within our own lives either, they can be on a global scale. For example what if the man in the example became a world leader that started a war, or discovered the cure for cancer?.

Allow me to produce a striking example of the possibilities:
  A man in 1894 Austria misses a train one night instead of catching it. As a result of missing this train the man never sits beside a beautiful whom in actuality he had sparked a conversation with. Because the two never meet each other the man never has the chance to take the woman out on a date and they never end up marrying or having children. Because they never have children, which would have been a boy by the name of Adolf Hitler, their kid never grows up to become an infamous tyrant who started World War two and caused the deaths of over 60 million people. Because World War two never happened two immigrants from Poland would never have left their War torn country and the sons and daughters they would have had would never be born. Now you see the consequential effects of how a man missing a train could save the lives of 60 million people.

                                 
 
So the examples of this theory are all around us and are happening all the time, every single day, whether we can see or notice them or not. Something you might do today might affect what you do tomorrow and etc, until the whole world is different. Of course there is no way to counteract any of this, because it is simply how the present affects the future.

 Another easy way to look at it is the domino effect. All you do is take the little effort to push that first domino, yet in doing this you cause a chain reaction that results in the collapses of hundreds of dominoes. In actuality, ever decision in your life, big or small, can change the outcome of your future. Whether or not you take karate lessons or whether or not you muster up enough courage to ask out that girl can have a serious impact, through chain reactions, on the rest of your life.

                 
                                                
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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

The overpopulation of wolves in the Northwest is making the elk extinct at a surprising rate and at some point mankind will join the countless other species now extinct on this and probably all other life sustaining planets.

I am not convinced the charts show anything abnormal in the life cycle of species. 

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

Tycer

Quote:

The overpopulation of wolves in the Northwest is making the elk extinct at a surprising rate and at some point mankind will join the countless other species now extinct on this and probably all other life sustaining planets.

Actually, your example of elk and wolves is not correct.  The elk population is doing just fine.  They have retreated to higher less accessible elevations as they traditionally did, before extirpation of wolves from those ecosystems.  That has led to invigoration of the lower habitats, particularly areas along streams, that had been significantly degraded during the absence of wolves.  There probably aren't as many elk as there were before the re-introduction of wolves, but they certainly aren't going extinct.  They are just rebalancing the ecosystem. 

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

Chris Martenson has talked about the mass extinction that is taking place. What I'm saying is that we don't know what catastrophic effects we are unleashing by such events. A loss of a small insect, unknown or difficult for humans to identify with, represents a specialist endemic to one small  eco-niche. However, that small insect forms a larger food chain which, when broken, can collapse an entire ecosystem. Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound Of Thunder" written in 1952 foreshadows the butterfly effect of chaos theory and symbolizes what tidal wave of future events can be unleashed when one small, seemingly inconsequentional event takes place.

Mankinds effect on the modern world is so massive that geologists have given our modern period a new name :

The Era of Catastrophe? Geologists Name New Era After Human

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

Hau kola Mr. xraymike79,

I am not so certain of the effect of kimi mila, the butterfly, but I am reminded of the opposition in two quotes by Chief Dan George from Tsleil Waututh Nation,

'We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive' which is countered by 'If you talk to animals they will talk to you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them, you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear.  What one fears, one destroys.'

Woksapa kiwani miye cekiya, I pray for an awakening to wisdom.

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

Hau kola Mr. xraymike79,

I am not so certain of the effect of kimi mila, the butterfly, but I am reminded of the opposition in two quotes by Chief Dan George from Tsleil Waututh Nation,

'We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive' which is countered by 'If you talk to animals they will talk to you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them, you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear.  What one fears, one destroys.'

Woksapa kiwani miye cekiya, I pray for an awakening to wisdom.

 

Unwesternized native people are much more attuned to nature and the interdependence of people with Earth. A headline today illustrates the downfall of western, industrialized culture:

 

Fears for Filet-O-Fish source

 

As I stated another time, limits to growth must be acknowledged. America's consumption-based economy is unsustainable. Leaders, either here or elsewhere in the world, are going to have to admit that growth cannot be our end goal forever. This is political suicide of course, which is why it can't be spoken, even if understood.

 

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction


Thoughts on the Economy and the "Butterfly Effect"/Chaos Theory:

News/Finance: The “Butterfly Effect” - Minding Unintended Consequences

9-7-2009 Viewpoint by Stephane Roy, WCW Columnist

I recently enjoyed watching the movie The Butterfly Effect in which Ashton Kutcher plays the role of a young adolescent who has the capabilities to go back into his past and change it. He has the belief that he can control, or at least anticipate, much of what will happen to him. However he quickly realizes that no matter how good his intentions are, he can never get the desired outcome as his actions lead to unintended consequences.

The butterfly effect relies on scientists’ work and relates to the idea that, in a sufficiently complex system, a small cause – the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil – might conceivably have a disproportionately large effect such as a tornado in Texas. While the movie The Butterfly Effect is entertaining, it highlights non-minor changes to the principal character’s past which mostly affect his friends and himself, not the overall environment. The movie might therefore not accurately represent the butterfly effect; it does however point to the notion of interdependence between the elements within a system.

The more I read and think about the past and current economic actions undertaken by governments and institutions, the more I wonder to what extent the “unintended consequences” factor is part of the equation in how economic and monetary policies are implemented. Were unintended consequences taken into account when a loose monetary policy was maintained for a so long time in the US in the aftermath of the 2001 economic contraction? Are they considered in the current bailout and stimulus interventions?

Economists use the “general equilibrium” theory to analyze all interdependencies which ultimately affect the behavior of supply, demand and prices in a whole economy with several or many markets. In a “general equilibrium” framework, resources allocated to a specific market are not available anymore to other markets in the system. There is no such thing as an infinite amount of real resources; and allocating resources to a given segment of the economy does have consequences on the rest of the economy.

In contrast, the “partial equilibrium” perspective focuses on the characterization of supply and demand on a specific market, as well as how the move of one vs. the other impacts price levels. The “partial equilibrium” analysis does not generally give a major importance to the influences of the analyzed market on other markets.

It often makes the assumption that other markets within the system – or conditions in the economy – are held constant. While a “partial equilibrium” perspective can be useful in understanding better the behavior of a specific market, its robustness is questionable when it deals with the implementation of macro-economics policies which de facto embrace all areas in the economy.

Current policies are characterized by a massive deployment of resources to certain areas of economies such as financial institutions or automobile sectors for example. It would be misleading to believe that governments’ resources are endless. This deployment is effectively a redistribution of resources that could have been allocated to other social and economic policies.

My point here is not to question whether these resources are well allocated, but simply to highlight that interdependencies within the economy are such that support to some sectors has – or will have – consequences across the overall economy. Similarly, new currency and government liabilities created to support these stimulus resources reallocations are likely to have global economy-wide consequences in the future.

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

One year later...........

Lehman's Butterfly Effect - Bloomberg

September 10, 2009

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

xraymike79 wrote:

Fears for Filet-O-Fish source

 

this had me running around in circles for a few critical seconds.

 

. . . i'm better now.

 

this whole crazy xtinction "thing" smacks of unintended consequenses.

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

this had me running around in circles for a few critical seconds.

 

. . . i'm better now.

 

this whole crazy xtinction "thing" smacks of unintended consequenses.

 

New Zealand is frantically running in circles thinking of a replacement for the "hoki fish" as the key ingredient.

I hear soylent green is becoming less of a sci-fi tale and more reality-based.

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Re: A Wave of Discovery – and Extinction

9-9-2009

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