The Butterfly Effect

ecosystem reefIndustrial_pollution

I was visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf area at Pier 39 with my family, my daughter and grand daughter on Monday and right before we began our visit on the S.S. Pampanito, a real United States navy WWII submarine, a genuine artifact from another time and place and a popular tourist attraction, when random fate struck down our plans….I mean the exact same moment, the actual minute we were buying our tickets, we were shocked and unexpectedly denied entrance to the boat because of a sudden inexplicable power outage in this heavily traveled tourist area…

Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Wharf area is one of the most famous and heavily congested tourist trap of attractions in the entire city of San Francisco…I have been going there , on and off, for over 50 years, and this has NEVER happened…A total blackout! Luckily it was mid afternoon, so there was still plenty of daylight, but shop after shop, block after block, the stores that sold souvenir tee shirts and coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets with the “I

As it turned out, the whole weird incident was triggered by a totally freakish, completely unexpected source….The outage was caused by a helium Mylar balloon that somebody, probably a small child, had released, probably by accident….The Mylar balloon then floated free style until it came into contact with overhead power lines several miles away from Pier 39, at the corner of Filbert and Leavenworth…. The local power company, PG & E stated that roughly 8,000 people were affected by the unexpected outage, which lasted for several hours…

It just goes to show you that the smallest things can set into motion a whole chain of events, like the butterfly effect…. According to my Google sources, “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect 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 name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorentz is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.”

I know, I know, it all sounds pretty far fetched, but then again, it actually DID happen, and it happened to me, just an average Joe out for a little sightseeing with his family…To me the ramifications of the butterfly effect and the whole chaos theory just reinforces my long held belief about the inter- connectivity of all things on this planet earth we all share….

I mean, EVERYTHING is related to, and has a significant effect on, everything else….You can apply this logic to the food chain and it stands up, from the smallest plankton on the ocean floor all the way up to the whales…You can apply it to the weather system and it holds up, and all these nay sayers about the negative impact of green house gases affecting the very air we breathe are all nuts, if you ask me…

The English physicist Sir Isaac Newton said it years ago: “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.The evidence is right in front of all of our eyes, with all the bizarre, non-traditional weather patterns that have affected the entire planet the last few years! Profits can never be excused as an excuse to upset the ever so delicate balancing act of Mother Nature, the greedy, obscenely rich members of the 1%, who control 99% of the world’s wealth, be damned and blasted, because everything IS truly connected…We cannot let these environmental idiots ignore results and reactions in the name of profits to make them even richer…

It may seem like a small thing, sure, what happened to me, a one time temporary blackout caused by a freak accident, and I agree that particular incident was an aberration, that rarely ever happens…But that is just the point, it DID happen! And it also proves the larger point, that anything can happen to anybody at any time, because we are all so inter-related and connected that it not the exception that proves the point; the exception IS the point!”

And to tempt fate by intentionally messing with planetary wide systems like cutting down huge swaths of the Amazon rain forest, (sometimes referred to as the lungs of the planet), the release of industrial pollutants contributing to the greenhouse effect on world wide weather patterns, messing with the food chain itself by dumping pollutants into the oceans…This is not only suicidal, it is downright criminal!

If this criminally insane behavior pattern continues, we will all end up in the same situation as the players in that old Grateful Dead song, “Morning Dew”:

“Walk me out in the morning dew my honey,
Walk me out in the morning dew today.
I can’t walk you out in the morning dew my honey,
I can’t walk you out in the morning dew today.”

The Magnificence Of The Pacific Ocean

Jay Moriarity.  Big wave surfing at Mavericks.  Photo: Vern Fisher

Today while I was taking my daily walk around the neighborhood, I felt drawn to the sight of the nearby mighty Pacific Ocean….I live only 6 blocks from the ocean, and I can see it every time I step outside my door…It is blue and serene and placid, or green and angry and wind whipped, but it is always there, a huge presence in my daily life….It is mystical, magical and it always draws me with it’s siren song, I can never take my eyes off the ocean when I am outside….

If the weather is warm and it is not too windy I often walk down to the beach, and watch the waves roll in, depositing their daily quota of seashells, mostly sand dollars and beautiful rocks from the ocean depths…….Unfortunately I live in San Francisco, not LA or Monterrey or Big Sur, so often the weather is cold and foggy and it is definitely not automatic every day swim suit weather!

But there are always a few people down there, walking their dogs, playing Frisbee, one couple is always fishing, with their poles set skilfully and anchored upright in the sand somehow… (I don’t know how they do that, but they are there every day, they must be professional fisherman)….

On a warm day, there are of course lots of people laying around on blankets and wearing swim suits, soaking up the rays of the sun, and a few brave souls actually swimming, although there are warning signs about the vicious undertow posted prominently……

There are always surfers out there too, but again this is northern California, not LA, and the surfers here all wear full body wet suits….But they still are a wonder to behold, as they paddle way out way past the shore line and wait for just the right wave to catch, then they nimbly mount their boards and ride the waves all the way to the shore, and then repeat the process….

This blows my mind, they are like skateboarders on the water and how they maintain their balance and don’t break their necks or drown is beyond me! In fact, there is a yearly internationally known surfing contest very close to here, as per Google:

“TITANS OF MAVERICKS is the world’s premiere, high adrenaline, big wave surfing event. This one-day, invitation-only surfing competition is held at the legendary Mavericks surf break located near Half Moon Bay, only 20 minutes south of San Francisco and near the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. The 24 Titans will attempt to compete at the highest level of skill, risk and athleticism to stand out and effortlessly challenge these, the massive swells on the biggest and best day of the winter season.

Professional big wave surfers from across the globe will travel great distances to take part in the most risk-oriented event in North America. The only way into the event is to be selected by the Committee 5 and earn a spot to battle it out – heat after heat – and eventually beating every other Titans for the win. Each potential selectee will have to put his or her time in the water at Mavericks. If you prove to the Committee 5 members you’re capable, and have what it takes, you will have equal consideration among any of the possible competitors.”

The skill, grace, and athleticism of these world class athletic surfers is a sight to behold, and draws very large crowds from all over the state and indeed, the world, to admire their dangerous, sometimes deadly feats….They do it more for the love of the sport than the prize money the winners get…Some years, the waves are not big enough and they have to cancel the event altogether…..

I can see container ships laden with freight from Asia all the time, passing by my part of the beach to the deep water unloading ports in nearby Oakland…I can see occasional smaller boats too, like sailboats, or commercial fishing boats pass by, but in general most recreational boating takes place in the Bay itself, not the ocean just outside my door…

When we went to the San Francisco Natural History Museum the other day, we saw a fantastic ½ hour tour of the ocean inside the Planetarium, called Habitat Earth…They had the reclining seats and the curved ceiling so you could lean back and it was like you were actually UNDER the water!….

I don’t know how they did it but it makes 3D look like child’s play, I almost got seasick from vertigo as the camera zoomed along the ocean bottom, showing massive, giant kelp forests, microscopic krill and plankton and the whales that feed on them, along with all the other fish and strange creatures that live deep beneath the waves and portrays the whole underwater food chain and how it works…

The Habitat Earth film really brought home the point how interconnected we are all, how the food chain works and the balance of nature that affects each and every one of us on the planet earth, and unless you have the opportunity to see a show like we just did at the Planetarium, you would just never know what goes on beneath the surface of the usually placid blue ocean….

The ocean covers ¾ of our world anyway, so it is of course an integral part of the world wide food chain, and the greedy industrialists that pollute the air with greenhouse gases for more and more obscene profits and monetary rewards should be forced to watch this film, although they probably already know and just don’t care…

All in all I am glad to be able to live so close to the Pacific Ocean, and to witness it’s wondrous majesty and fantastic views and ponder what goes on beneath those opaque, impenetrable to the eyes waves that roll and crash onto the beach every day…I am blessed to be alive and healthy and living on the very edge of the Western world…