Butterfly Effect

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The butterfly effect, a term used in Chaos Theory, describes how tiny variations, like the wing movements of a butterfly, can affect giant systems, and complex systems, and have significant repercussions on wind strength and movements throughout the weather systems of the world, and theoretically, could cause tornadoes halfway around the world. The term "butterfly effect" is attributed to Edward Norton Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist, who was one of the first proponents of Chaos Theory.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • The butterfly effect goes to show that it is impossible to predict the behavior of any large system without accounting for all tiny factors, which might influence it, however minutely. As there are too many unknown variables to count, large systems like weather remain impossible to predict.
  • Similar unpredictability is also seen in human behavior, where too it is seen that small changes could render behavior, or another complex system. Small actions or experiences stored in the unconscious mind, could certainly affect a person’s behavior in unexpected ways.

All about Butterfly Effect

This Butterfly Effect theory is often simply portrayed as a butterfly flapping its wings in South America causing a slight change in local air currents which in turn causes a larger change in atmospheric air currents which then in turn causes a hurricane in North America.

Though the theory is based mathematics, it has its applications in everyday life as can be seen from 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.

Butterflies and climate change

Butterflies are very sensitive to climate change, pollution, and habitat degradation and therefore serve as valuable indicators of potentially harmful environmental shifts.

In fact effects of climate changes on a wide range of animal species can be predicted from variations in the presence or absence of certain butterflies. Climate change has been forcing butterfly species such as the heath butterfly and the comma, which are typically found in warm areas and both of which have existed in England and in the southern parts of the United Kingdom for many years, have been gradually moving north into Scotland. They also have been emerging earlier in the year and sometimes producing multiple generations of offspring in one season.

Relationship with plants and animals

There is a unique relationship between butterflies and plants and animals. Each species of caterpillars feed on only one type of plant. There is a threat to their survival is this plant is lost through habitat destruction or climate change. Though less important than honeybees, butterflies are important pollinators and fill a vital role in the food web by serving as a food source for birds, lizards, snakes, and other predators.


  • What is the Butterfly Effect?
  • What is the Butterfly Effect?
  • Butterfly Climate Effect?