Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Dragonfly Effect...

The beautiful dragonfly in this picture has oil on its delicate wings -- oil from the BP horror oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Of all the creatures in nature, dragonflies are my favorite. I love to watch them on a summer evening as they dance through the air. They're exquisitely beautiful and very necessary in the chain of nature, eating mosquitoes, flies, and ants. There are 5,000 species throughout the world, and about 500 in North America. In Great Britain, there is a society dedicated to the conservation of dragonflies, as three species of dragonfly have already become extinct, and a third of the remainder are threatened with extinction.

Everyone by now has heard of the Butterfly Effect -- "the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events (domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. While the butterfly does not "cause" the tornado in the sense of providing the energy for the tornado, it does "cause" it in the sense that the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado, and without that flap that particular tornado would not have existed."

The Butterfly Effect is based on the chaos theory, described by Edward Lorenz. I first read about the Butterfly Effect in a book by Ray Bradbury called “The Sound of Thunder”. I thought the Butterfly Effect was far-fetched when I read the book -- strictly science fiction with no basis in reality or fact. But Edward Lorenz's theory of the order of chaos proves that the Butterfly Effect is very real. In Bradbury's book, a squashed butterfly in the past drastically changed the course of the future.

The oil spill in the Gulf is changing the course of the future, not only for the folks in the near vicinity, but for the entire world. Migratory birds from Canada will be affected. The delicate and exquisite balance of the ecosystems around the world that are all related to each other will be affected in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine, except from the realm of what we would perceive to be science fiction.

Why isn't more being done to clean up the mess? It's almost as if everyone has given up. They are overwhelmed. BP enlisted 400 men to look as if they were cleaning up the beach for President Obama's visit, “Early in the morning in advance of the president’s arrival, hundreds of workers clad in white jump suits and rubber gloves hit the beaches to dig oily debris from the sand and haul it off. Workers refused to say who hired them, telling a reporter only they were told to keep quiet or lose their jobs.” When the President left, so did the workers.

My friend Susan sent me a quote by Chief Seattle, the full text of which:

"Teach your children what we have taught ours, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."

... and the dragonflies.

28 comments:

Paul C said...

Interesting juxtaposition of chaos theory and orchestration of clean up. Yes, the dragonfly is like a canary in a coal mine. So delicate, fragile, and beautiful.

June said...

The Sunday morning talking heads were all over the oil spill: "the President lacks the ability to express empathy;" "we're trying to fix something that's never happened before and nobody knows how;" "we should be drilling for oil in the arctic."
No good answers.
One comment that I, personally, thought cheerworthy: "This is the result of letting corporations go on their merry way, making up their own rules as they go along."

Carla said...

I'm a nature lover and a Louisiana native. Hate to turn on the TV, seems like the news gets worse every day. I'm so upset!

Interesting post, as usual. Lots to think about. Love the Chief Seattle quote.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I actually hadn't heard about the workers hired by BP for President Obama's visit. Such cynicism is not only appalling, it does not bode well for the future of our planet which is being rapidly destroyed by human greed and arrogance.

I love dragonflies, too. (And dragons.) They have always reminded me of fairies.

Thank you for passing on that wonderful quote from Chief Seattle. His words are always timely, but never more than now.

DJan said...

I remember that Bradbury story. And yes, the Butterfly Effect is showing that every person, every soul on the planet is affected by the Oil Disaster. It is incorrect to call it a "spill" because it is an ongoing disaster that has no end in sight. I am sick over it. Thank you for your post.

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

After exchanging many e-mails with friends; phone-calls with family that contained much of what you've written about the oil disaster, you've just added another 'picture' that has become one of so many showing the damage done to the wild-life.

I remember when I learned the helicopter was designed (in part) from watching the dragonfly - of course, the plane from the bird.....

My daughter collects replicas of dragon-flies in all forms; we both love them, and she used to watch them when she was little as I did.

They are so capable and strong for such a tiny whispy insect and I love the sun-light through their wings.

Some of those workers you mentioned, had to go home because they've become sick from the fumes and the other chemicals that have been used to try to break up the oil. I believe there are about 15 (so far) that have had to have medical treatment. I'm guessing rather than run the risk of further sickness (and potential law-suits), they're going to put the task on BP, and the liability.

The top-fill failed; now they say it will be August before they can build a relief well, so much more damage will be done, before this is over.

I hope for tighter regulation; tougher rules, and more R&D before they continue to allow these companies to run rampant on our land (or anyone's land).

BP was 6 weeks behind; they were into millions of costs in over-run, and it appears they cut corners by not using drilling mud/slurry and instead, opted for sea-water which was the wrong decision.

In 1984, my former husband and I designed a computerized down-hole system for oil-drilling. In the process, we learned the importance of using the slurry/mud throughout the process, and how to properly cap it off with cement. It appears none of this was done right, and it's essentially criminal in what BP/Haliburton and the rest have done!

KrippledWarrior said...

We're golden on all points except for your assertion that the butterfly effect is proven science. I suppose that tidal waves and tsunamis are caused by minnow-fins?
The true science shows clearly that 98% of all life on earth is already extinct. Extinction is part of Darwinian evolution, that survival goes to the species that is strong enough to over come adversity. Or adapt fast enough to the new environment. All that oil is, is the creatures who didn't survive the ultimate test. Yes the leak is a tragic. But it is the consequence of one species exerting domination over the environment.
Not because a fish farted or a bug flew away. Chaos theory has some very non-chaotic mathematics that it becomes the epitome of hyperbole when examined in detail. But I love you anyway,
Kurt

Owen said...

Hi Jo, You could un-cross out the "horror" part... this is beyond horror. This is beyond the heart of darkness. The sorcerers apprentices' magic has gotten badly out of hand here. The consequences are unimaginable at this point... and the horror continues to gush. And gush. And gush. Man's arrogance shall be our undoing I fear.

Marlene said...

This just might be the catalyst that moves North America away from fossil fuels and on to more sustainable energy.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Yes, it is truly beyond the heart of darkness. Love Paul C's description of the dragonfly. As a faerie, of course Ido so love the dragonfly.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Out of chaos comes order - The Damselfly Effect.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Hello Jo have been thinking about and wondering if your okay.
Very interesting post as always. So sad all the damage now and in the future with this oil spill
Hope your your doing well
Love
Maggie

Whitney Lee said...

I, too, love dragonflies. Their beauty and grace is inspiring.

The oil spill scares me. I'm not worried so much for my own sake, but what am I leaving to my children?

Russell said...

Most excellent thoughts.

Here in Iowa, I am surrounded by an ocean of rich farmland. Farmers traditionally say they do not own the land, they are custodians of it. And that is true.

And, yes, the dragonfly effect is most interesting. Most interesting indeed....

kenju said...

I have been against off-shore drilling from the start, and I hope that the most lasting effect of this spill is that the government bans all future drilling and shuts down wells that are in operation now.

Amy said...

Jo, I just came away from another post that had a beautiful photo of a dragonfly. Yours makes me so sad - I think everyone just feels helpless and afraid of the consequences of this event. Today I read in the paper about theories (because no one really knows) on what will happen in the Gulf during hurricane season which is beginning shortly. So I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

TomCat said...

Why someone hasn't done something about it is that nobody knows what to do. The Gulf had been a lab experiment.

A more advanced kind blowout preventer, required in Europe, would have prevented this. It would have been required in the US. MMS has the requirement in their proposed regs. But the oil companies were allowed to rewrite the regulations in the secrecy of Dick Cheney's office.

The equation is not chaotic:

Republican policies + corporate greed = disaster.

The disaster is chaotic. This tragedy will effect our great grandchildren in ways we have not even begun to imagine.

fiftyodd said...

Love your art! Good luck with the oil spill - we are watching with sympathy from over the ocean.

Pauline said...

Your concerns remind me of Francis Thompson's lines:

"All things by immortal power,
Near and Far
Hiddenly
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star."


As an aside, I'd love to hear a discussion of the Chaos Theory between Kurt and Edward Lorenz.

Firefly said...

It is so sad to see the oil on its wings. I'm not even going to go into the whole oil spill thing, but it is a crying shame. As for dragonflies, they are the most amazing insects out there.

Wolynski said...

The problem is that BP is still in charge of plugging the oil and clean up. It's criminal that they haven't been taken off the job weeks ago - they clearly have other agendas.

No one knows how and when this will end and what the terrible consequences will be. Not much point in blaming Bush and Cheney - this is Obama's mess and he's seriously hopeless in a crisis.

The Bug said...

Makes my heart sick, for sure.

Mia said...

The obvious question about the oil leak is if they don't know how to stop it or prevent it from happening again what's to stop the same thing from happening at every other station?

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Such an incredibly tragic situation, Jo! And oh, that poor dragonfly! It is all so heartbreaking...There are no words. Love, Janine XO

lakeviewer said...

This is a most thoughtful and profound subject. Thank you for articulating it so beautifully.

Kym said...

It breaks my heart how mankind treats this wondrous gift called earth. Its time we take back from the industries that are ruining this beautiful planet and say no more....I used to work for a company that cleaned up various sites relating to the "Manhattan Project"...will we ever learn?

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

And the horror continues...
There is an idea that using a nuclear device might close the well. Wonder if they have thought about what the fallout might do to the ocean's life forms? I've also read that they are detaining closing the well on purpose and that they intend to bring the oil to the surface in order to salvage it so they won't lose profits. Why on earth is BP allowed to be in charge of this effort? They created it and have no idea of how to deal with it. Let's let the common sense approach take over. The two guys who suggested using the native grasses broadcast over the spill to absorb it and remove it from the water (they actually demonstrated that this would work!) or perhaps some of the technology that has been made available (Kevin Costner). People need to get involved. A friend recently dropped a thirty+ year affiliation with one of the conservation groups they financially supported when they found out that BP had 'donated' $10,000,000 to the group for them to lobby for them in DC. Somehow people have to become participants in this debacle and not simply observers.

Everyone must let their congress people know that we want this FIXED NOW!

TC said...

The spill goes on and on, I am wondering if it will run out or be capped before it has a chance to poison enough of the sea that will cause us to be affected, not only if we live on the coast but if we use anything from the sea? I know it's a gloomy prospect but the spill goes on and on.
Did you see the movie The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutchner? Or whatever his name is, Demi's husband? I liked it even if it was rather bleak...