The Butterfly Effect and Climate Change

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The view from atop Taylor Mountain at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge balcony. Notice the tornado damage in the campground by the lake: Glynn Wilson

By Glynn Wilson -

LAKE GUNTERSVILLE STATE PARK, Ala. — In a scene near the end of the film Havana, Robert Redford as the professional poker player Jack Weil mentions the Butterfly Effect from Chaos Theory when saying his final goodbye to Lena Olin as Bobby Durán.

“I believe it,” he says. “I believe a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. They can even calculate the odds. It just isn’t likely, and it takes so long.”

That was the theme of this year’s Alabama Sierra Club retreat at Lake Guntersville State Park as it relates to Climate Change due to human induced global warming from the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

While many people know a little about the butterfly effect from chaos theory, less may know about the connection to climate change.

Sandy Kiplinger, the North Alabama Group Sierra Club Chair and one of the organizers of the conference, said they idea comes from the movie The Butterfly Effect.

“What we do now effects the future like the domino effect,” she said. “I think about the future. What we do now effects the life of my daughter.”

About 50 Sierra Club members and officers heard presentations from David Rickless of Jacksonville State University on the science and solutions for climate change and Daniel Tait of Nexus Energy on president Obama’s climate plan, as well as Michael Mullen, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper.

Attendees also heard from Dr. Dawn Lemke of Alabama A&M University on the problem of invasive plants in the forests of the Southeast and the implications of climate change on the migration of those plants.

On what people can do to offset their increasing energy costs to help fight climate change, the group heard from Gary Pace of Synergy Home Performance, Daniel Tait of Nexus Energy and Michelle Sneed of Living Green in Alabama. Adam Johnson of the Alabama Rivers Alliance held a round circle discussion updating the group on the latest about a comprehensive water management plan for the state. Draft legislation could be ready to look at and consider by early 2014.

On Saturday afternoon, the club split up into two groups for hikes in the forests around Lake Guntersville. Jefferson and I hooked up with one group and followed King’s Chapel Trail, an intriguing little hike a little less than a mile up the mountain leading to an old cemetery.

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King’s Chapel Trail – .8 miles, one way, this intrigueing trail leads to an old cemetery now located inside the boundaries of Guntersville State Park: Glynn Wilson

After a big Sunday brunch in the Lodge restaurant and a couple of other presentations, the Alabama Sierra Club Executive Committee met to take care of a little business. On the way out, I scouted a bald eagle nest near Town Creek, but there were no residents home yet. The migration will begin soon. They come home to the area for the winter in January and February, when you can book a guided tour to see America’s national symbol up close.

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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