A catastrophe occuring after a long and slow accumulation of small effects.
These catastrophes have been discussed by M. KARSKY (1993, p.1413-21). This is a very dangerous type of phenomena, in natural as well in artificial systems. Small individual effects are generally irrelevant, and perceived as such. But, as shown by KARSKY, the damped oscillations they provoke can suddenly "jump out of the track" and lead to new and unexpected macroscopic qualitative effects. KARSKY observes that: "this phenomenon takes place only in a very narrow band of parameters variations and may easily pass unnoticed in absence of a systematic policy of simulation through multiple scenarios. It could however explains in some cases the occurence of seemingly inexplicable catastrophes" (p.1417)
That the accumulation be slow implies another danger: the nonperception of the progressive buildup of a macroscopic change in the making. When finally it becomes evident that a dramatic change is to occur, it is generally too late to do something about it.
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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