The Butterfly Effect and the Environment: How Tiny Actions Can Save the World

The Butterfly Effect and the Environment: How Tiny Actions Can Save the World

Reader Comments (104)

  1. I personally like the “quit the Job” suggestion. I tried doing that, but in vain.. since my scurrying for projects, I have to travel even more!!

  2. Brian, thanks for your contribution.

    I think that even the small act of writing, reading and learning together on the same issue can help to make us feel stronger, more confident, more aware of the difference we can make – even with our own small butterfly wings.


  3. An item maybe to add to your list, specifically for the world’s best copywriters. Write your most persuasive copy with the objective of driving effective action to reduce emissions, preserve species, and preserve the environment. What might persuade the persuaders to do this?

  4. Great post Brian, thanks for contributing to Blog Action Day. I hadn’t heard about the butterfly effect, now I’m a little smarter! I had to chuckle, I too wrote about the environment today, but I spoke about a fried snail and weather pattern change. Here’s to everyone becoming a little more conscious and doing what we can to protect our planet.

  5. Brian,
    Although I am not an environmentalist at heart, this is an excellent post.

    What an eye opener and a great piece of work. Using our skills as copywriter’s we have the power to change the world with our power of influence and persuasion.

    Great job… and a very nice example of how to write with persuasion and positive purpose.


  6. I must say that I’m a little bit dissapointed by a lot of blogs which got envolved with blog action day. Most of them just wrote something like – “hey, it’s blog action day today” and that’s it. Therefore, I had an urge to tell you “BRAVO” – this is a great post. Thank you for writting it, it was a pleasure to read it.

  7. Funny, interesting, and thanks for participating!

    We are offering some surprise seeds, over at .. All we ask is a pingback and anyone can get mailed some free earth savers!

    Great Job!

  8. I really like this blog entry. I have worked in the environmental field (both public and private sectors) for 20 years. Everything Brian pointed out has been said in the past, but it never hurts to hear it again. The link to 52 other ways to help has a link about the EPA’s “Get to know your watershed”. That site is a very informative site and I recommend it. I am biased my current dissertation work is on a project very much related and connected to the EPA’s “Get to know your watershed” site. Thanks for this blog entry!

  9. Great blog post. I’m currently working on an educational video series about making SIMPLE, non-disruptive, life-style changes that contribute to sustainability.

    We have to wake up before we pass the point of no return.

  10. Interesting reactions. Terra Not Terra and Antonis (posts 29 and 30) just repeated portions of it. Looking for cheap links folks? C’mon, say something or stay away link spammers.

    Me, I’m gonna be the odd man out here. One thing in support of the theory actually runs counter to your assumption about forests. There are more trees in this country now than when Columbus found a few islands and thought he’d landed in China. Not because we destroy forests, but because we plant them and fight forest fires. Used to be that a lightning strike or Native campfire could start a blaze that wiped out forests over several states.

    However, I’m sorry to burst a few bubbles, but the theory of man-caused “Global Warming” has failed to explain why Mars is warming at the same rate. Could it be that the sun is much more powerful than we are?

    Whatever, I thought your email was about blogging techniques, not a back to nature diatribe (as attractive as it can be – I do enjoy knocking about in the woods here in the damp Pacific Northwest). There are a lot of things I’d like to use our website as a platform to preach from, but I resist and stick to business. If I want to spout my other interests (many), there’s nothing to stop me from creating another site or a private blog.

  11. Whatever, I thought your email was about blogging techniques, not a back to nature diatribe…

    Al, if you want a blogging or copywriting lesson, focus on the techniques I used in the post rather than the substance. There’s a reason I put this in the “persuasion” category.

    That’s the best way to learn anyway. 🙂

    Interesting reactions. Terra Not Terra and Antonis (posts 29 and 30) just repeated portions of it. Looking for cheap links folks? C’mon, say something or stay away link spammers.

    Those are trackbacks… links from other blogs to this post. Not spam at all, and if you click to go visit the blogs you’ll see they had plenty to say.

  12. I grew up in the house where I now raise my two children.
    Thirty years ago playing in the backyard of our suburb home chasing butterflies was an everyday joy. The butterflies were so varied and so beautiful. Not the case today though. My kids today, get to see the same kind of butterflies in our local insectarium (insect museum). Sad isn’t it? Great post and Janice above, tres bien ecrit aussi, bravo !

  13. Nice article.

    There are some cool stats on extinction levels and oil wastage, and I like the whole butterfly analogy that frames the entire piece. (I’ve yet to go and explore the list of tips on another page.) I think an article like this could well reach people that similar less creative (i.e. minus the butterflies) ones might fail to do. So, good on you.

    It’s nice that it gives hope, too. So many people seem to take the attitude that if governments and huge corporations won’t reign in their excesses, then what can their recycling a plastic bottle hope to achieve. Well, one person and one bottle… not a lot. But 1,000,000 people and 1,000,000 bottles… Or a whole nation? A whole planet? The efforts have to start somewhere. It’s a pity that those with the power to change things overnight simply won’t take that simple step. (And believe me, it is simple!) So instead, we’re forced to take the long route and have the changes come into effect from the grassroots up. And, (believe me again) they will come into effect. Unfortunately, whether they are in time to avert major disaster is another story.

    As for all those who don’t believe in the coming disaster? Well, if all those of us who are trying to do our bit create a better, cleaner, healthier world end up having to eat crow and listen to all those people cry in unison, “I told you so!”, well, damn, won’t that be a bummer. Boy, will I feel stupid knowing I’ve contributed to creating a better world for completely the wrong reason!

    Steve N. Lee
    Author of eco/religious thriller ‘What if…?’

  14. I couldn’t help myself, had to add a link to this as a p.s. to my Blog Action Day (BAD–oooh, scary!) post today.

    Nicely done as always–the details about your kids that ground the story, and tying the butterfly effect to personal action . . . just well done all around.

  15. Gather ’round the fire folks and I’ll tell ya the story behind;
    “The Flutterby Campaign”.
    This story begins a long time ago, as stories such as these always do, in lands far, far away. It begins at the birth of Civilization, when people started to feel pretty darn good about themselves and all their greatness. They’d stopped walking the earth, figuring they’d seen all they needed to and built themselves cities to make life easier. They sent out their brightest scientists to gather and label any remaining specimens. They sent out their fastest runners to bring these specimens back to the cities.They sent the scribes to the learning centres to write down the information brought back by the runners.However, over time, with the scientists out in the fields for long stretches at a time and the runners always running, it was the scribes lazing around the cities who got all the accolades and praise for how smart everyone was getting. All this attention went to their heads and they started developing the attitude; “It is nothing…until we put it down…and then it is…Forever.”

    Then one day a runner comes back, all out of breath he passes the newest specimen to the scribe saying; “Here you are sir, it’s the newest specimen, he called it the “Yellow Flutterby”. The scribe snapped it from his hands saying, “Obviously you’re a moron and you’ve gotten it all “Bass Ackwards”. Indicating towards the specimen he says, “It’s got wings so obviously it’s something that flies you dolt, and with this yellow buttery colour, he obviously called it a “Butterfly” and you’ve gotten it confused.” The scribe then grabs his writing tool saying, “I’m just putting it down…”, and despite the runners objections; “But sir, I’m sure he said…”, “Ah Ah”, the scribe exclaims cutting the runner off, “It is Butterfly…Forever!” and with a dazzling flash of his hand and tool, slams the book shut.

    Years later, the scientist returns from the fields for a well deserved break and is reading one of the books when he notices this, “I didn’t call it a Butterfly”, he protested loudly, “That doesn’t make any sense. I called it a “Flutterby” cause that’s what it does.”

    It was decided by those who considered themselves in charge that it wasn’t really that important and considering the costs of re-writing, the fears people might have that other information might be incorrect and the panic that might cause, things would be left the way they were and the book would remain closed on this issue.

    But that didn’t happen, children, of all things, were the ones who kept coming back to this. Upon their first sighting of the wondrous creatures they would exclaim, in broken child words which say less and mean more, “Look…flutter…by.” The parent would then correct the child and say; “No, no, no…Butterfly.” Of course, this confuses the bejeepers out of the child and nothing ever makes sense again.

    Thus began secretly, “The Flutterby Campaign”. Years and generations of this senseless living has been going on and it needs to stop. The time has come to open up the books and change the “F” and “B”. Stop confusing the children. Now this is where the SECRET part of the plan comes into play (so bad guys stop reading now)…once we finally get them to open the books to make this change, and before they can close them up again, we’ll say; “Ah, Ah, now that we’ve got the books open…there’s a few other small things we’d like to fix.” But we won’t mention that at first…we’ll flutter it by them.

  16. Hey there:

    Has it crossed anyone’s mind that until we restore JUSTICE we will be unable to save anything because the rich will continue to buy the rights of the poor to pollute them even more.
    your humble servant,
    ancient clown

    My contribution for Blog ACTION Day…but you might also want to check out The Flutterby Campaign.

  17. Great post, it’s fantastic to see so many people getting behind blog action day. We all need a reminder of how the the little things all add up to make the present and the future.

  18. You can’t use chaos theory to suggest that making tiny “positive” changes necessarily helps the environment . Your description of the theory explains why.

    “In plain language, tiny changes within a complex system lead to results that are impossible to predict.”

    Any change, regardless of how large or small, and regardless of whether it is believed to be good or bad, causes unpredictable results. Even if the tiny changes one makes are good, the result can still end up bad. It could also end up good. It’s just simply not predictable.

    I won’t even touch on humanity’s inability to distinguish good from bad in the long term (That is, of course, until hindsight reveals the truth).

    However, I do agree. People do need to realize that the “tiny changes [they] make do in fact make a difference”. It’s just not possible to say whether our efforts will give the desired results. All we can do is try for the best.

  19. this quote from Jonas Salk, helps us to wrap our minds around this vague concept of biodiversity and its effect:

    If all insects were to disappear from Earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings were to disappear from Earth, within 50 years all life forms would flourish.

    ~ Jonas Edward Salk (b 1914), American physician, researcher, helped to develop the eponymous Salk vaccine for Polio.

  20. Great blog post. I’m currently working on an educational video series about making SIMPLE, non-disruptive, life-style changes that contribute to sustainability.

  21. I own a fancy car and the only reason that I can rationalize that is because I QUIT MY JOB! I don’t commute any more! My fancy sedan sits there as an objet d’art!

    Even though I can gloat, there is still hope for all of the lame-ass commuters, that’s for sure!

    Congress finally has a chance to pass meaningful energy legislation. The bill they are about to pass includes the best fuel economy standards ever (35 mpg by 2020) and a renewable electricity standard (15% by 2020) that guarantees the growth of renewable, clean energy. But there is a chance these two key advances won’t make it through to the final bill.

    I am working with a coalition to make sure Congress sends the president a strong energy bill with meaningful changes for our environment and planet. This legislation would be a monumental step toward stopping global warming. Go to and sign the petition. This is our chance for real progress, don’t let Congress back down!

  22. Excellent peice. I imagine, or hope, this would tip the balance for anyone faced with the choice of eco/non-eco options, and also help persuade those who think it’s too late that everything that can be done should be done. What Have You Got to Lose was moving too. Brilliantly informative, well written and persuasive. Thanks.

  23. CFL is great, but don’t forget to get Full Spectrum. Not only is it light that is = to the light spectrum of sunlight, but it is much safer on people and plants than regular fluorescent bulb. Too bad so many have outfitted their entire homes, only to find they didn’t put in the healthier and superior full spectrum types.


  24. Brian, I discovered your blogging powers yesterday. A new student is at your table.

    Its part of the beauty of life that the way to solving the mess we have created has arrived at just the right time.

    Small things do make a big difference. I owe someone a big apology…

  25. The butterfly effect is a big reason why I created, a web video show about what you can do to reduce your impact on the earth.

    We as individuals can make changes to our lives that do add up. Here’s a recent show about CFLs

    After I posted this show, I was surprised by how many of my friends did not know about CFLs. Now they do, which is good for all of us. thx, eric.

  26. love your thoughts on the butterflies. We are considering having butterfly pictures on our packaging for one of our product lines, and you gave me a lot of ideas for the inspiring text that I can use on the label.
    We create fragrant products that are healthy to breathe and enjoy.

    warm regards
    Mine’ Hakim
    AIRS Fragrance Products, Inc.
    birch Bay, WA

  27. Butterflies – well according to Professor Art Shapiro the 24 hour day will leave them f****d”. Join in with Earth Hour this Saturday, 29th March. If we try to tolerate the “hidden” harm being done by the 24 hour day we will pay long term. Frankly if we are not JIT then we will certainly be JTL. By then I’ll be dead. Have a look at

  28. Nice to know that the massive unemployment in Michigan might actually end up having a good effect on the global environment! The people didn’t quit their jobs, the jobs quit them. Wonder what ELSE we can do to help save the planet!

    Too bad, too, that our corporate scientists continue to recklessly pursue technologies, like nanites, without regard to the potential damage to the environment now or in the future. Sooner or later SOMEONE will clean up the mess behind and, if not humans, then its God’s problem, right?

  29. There’s a big push in some Australian cities to having rainwater tanks. In fact some state and local governments pay a rebate on supply and installation.

    We just had a 5000 litre tank installed and plumbed into our house. The net cost after rebates was $50. We use the rainwater for the garden and washing machine. It makes a big difference to our consumption.

  30. If you truly believe in the butterfly effect, then you must be conscious of the fact that every choice you make, every action you take will effect everything else. Some acts will have a positive effect, some negative. Most of the choices in our lives have to do with how we spend our free time, and extra money. So don’t spend any of it on things which don’t positively effect the environment directly – including all forms of passive entertainment; sports, film – and on and on. Practice The Sequitorian lifestyle.

  31. Brain, I have to really appreciate you for this article. I was wasting lot of resources unknowingly. But after reading this article I came to know about many things. May be in a day or two I’ll definitely change my monitor. I hope you will continue to write articles like this. Though these things seem simple but many times we miss out. Good work man…

  32. I am originally from a developing country and I must admit that when I came to North America, I was chocked by how energy is squandered here. It’s amazing to see that The lights stay on for hours during the night in office buildings even when no employee is there. The reason is that electricity bills are aggregated, paid by landlords and charged to tenants apportioned to the space used. This gives no incentive to individual tenants to switch off lights when they leave office. A very simple action would be to install individual counters in offices and give an incentive to people to save electricity. This would save millions of dollars on electricity, reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and also save the planet. What a butterfly effect would this have? Huge!!

  33. I think all the human brain are linked with each other because all has evolved from the same prehistoric adam and eve which can be understood by using the “principle of chaos theory :the butterfly effect”.since evolve from the single parents each have the the hint of genetic information which is hidden due to the domination present information in taken by each individual brain.But due to some excitation of the quantum particle of the brain cells, pop up to the surface the present information codes.And this may be the answer to the reincarnation phenomena of an individual which is commonly observed as a “paranormal phenomena”.
    Now to the topic, this small pop up time will affect each individual’s conciousness.When this pop up time matched same for several other individuals in the world then each brain can communicate with each other if there is realy a process to interconnet the from human conciousness to another.

  34. Most of the choices in our lives have to do with how we spend our free time, and extra money. So don’t spend any of it on things which don’t positively effect the environment directly – including all forms of passive entertainment; sports, film – and on and on.

  35. Nice to know that the massive unemployment in Michigan might actually end up having a good effect on the global environment! The people didn’t quit their jobs, the jobs quit them. Wonder what ELSE we can do to help save the planet!

  36. The Butterfly Effect is an illusion. It appears show linear sequence as a validation of chaos theory. But it circular reasoning that is not Science, but Sophistry.

    “The Unified Theory” Academics is looking for cannot be seen in a linear sequence Window. It is the interpretive lens Engineering and Information System Science uses everyday. It is, “The Science of Context; Comprehension Through The Lens Of The Integrated Whole.”

    The genetic database code for protein and there is no such thing as “gene expression”. “Extraction, Transcription, Fold” are only possible because of term, “Context Driven.” “Integration of Thought to Application or Purpose.” Integrate the Whole and determine the interdependencies that have to be satisfied to enable the environment to application or purpose.

    Information Technologies are only possible because someone understood that a character base’s only purpose is to build mechanisms of format and a format’s only purpose is to apply integration of thought to application or purpose, thus the term, “Context Driven.”

    Science is analytical. It does not construct plot oriented narratives-who did it, when it was done and why it was done. However it can test any plot oriented narrative through use of the litmus test. Test the narrative to see if it can correctly interpret the composition, it is philosophizing. Random integration is an oxymoron. Look at a PC; it all has to come online at the same time or it can’t come online at all. No one lives in the liver, waiting for the kidneys to be formed.

    Intelligent Design may have philosophical implications, but it has no bearing on one building an Exact Science or Comprehension of an Integrated Environment in Operation. Even if I didn’t like Bill Gates, it would still be in my best interest to learn the interdependencies of a PC, if I wanted to excel at diagnostics.

    “To Reverently Defend a Who” is religion, regardless of who the”who” is. It is the questions asked, not the answers given that determines the type of search and the motive for the search.

    “Accreditation and Tenure” have prevented Physics, Chemistry and Biology from ever getting past studying character base and mechanisms of format by philosophizing them as linear sequence, so the interdependencies of the integrated whole cannot be seen; thus a Exact Science can never be built.

    Saying,”Evolution fined tuned this” is no different than saying, “God did it; end of argument.” One can never get out of the starting gate.

    Someone from Information System Science is going to look over at this Context Driven Dynamic Architecture through the lens’ of Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Next Level Robotics and integrate the whole to extract the interdependencies; they want to build it.

    No, I am Faculty; I am a diagnostic technician. I rebuild computers on the side-the logic is the same. My thesis is on page 233 of my website.

    I strive to be cordial, but chaos theory, string theory and entanglement push my buttons. :-))

    Have a great day!

  37. I read the article , it is informative and scary . Iam a person who is exposed to the world and things happening around me . What about people who live in remote areas , do not have basic education unaware of the serious effects of slow destruction of our planet Earth and those people who ignore these factors . I have a question for all those who have read the article and aware of the consequence of this problem What is our responsibility ? How can we start doing something rather than talking about it , it is high time we do something friends . Don’t wait for others to begin the movement , it can be as simple as EDUCATING PEOPLE AROUND YOU , STARTING OF SMALL GROUPS TO SAVE OUR PLANET , AND THIS WILL SPREAD LIKE FIRE LIKE A CULT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD . Its high time people understand that we all should work together for saving our planet not fight over for power , money and position as these things will perish along with our beautiful world . Lets not be selfish we have lived and seen our beautiful planet lets preserve this for our future . God bless all.

    Harish C Sivan
    India , Kerala

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