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There is no single movement that represents environmentalism.
We’ve covered farmer’s movements, slow fashion and Ansel Adams’ original environmental movement, for example, but they aren’t the same things and they all have different principles.
The deep ecology movement is another environmental movement but unlike other movements it’s concerned less with specific principles and more with the relationship between humanity and the natural world.
What Is The Deep Ecology Movement?
Believers in the Deep Ecology Movement’s principles say that all living things including the environment itself ought to be given respect and treated as though they have certain rights (both moral and legal) to be allowed to live and thrive.
These rights should be treated and taken independently of the uses that humanity currently has for these things.
Thus, deep ecology is a broad framework that values more than just the “biotic” (living) factors involving the environment but tries to see everything as more than just a “resource”.
Thus, it doesn’t place man at the center of environmentalism.
In fact, it tries to avoid this as adherents say this leads to a kind of selfish environmentalism concerned only with profit and our sustainability as a species rather than offering holistic care for the world as a whole.
Where Does Deep Ecology Come From?
Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher, coined the phrase in a 1973 paper which had been inspired by ecologists who were trying to discover the connections between the ecosystems of the planet.
However, the concept is older and originated in the 1960s with the conservationist Rachel Carson, the biologist Paul R Ehrilch and the environmentalist David Brower.
In particular the book Silent Spring by Carson in 1962 seems to have enabled the ideas of Deep Ecology to coalesce and become a coherent school of thought.
The Key Principles Of Deep Ecology
- Deep Ecology is ecocentric (earth centered) and not anthropocentric (people centered)
- It holds that the well-being of the whole is key to the survival of any part of the whole
- They contend that man is not separate from nature and that it is damaging to suggest otherwise
- They feel that capitalism must be replaced with a system which does not present such risks to our biosphere
- They say there are hard limits to just how much damage the environment can withstand
- They advocate for reducing the human population to an optimum 0.5 billion (via birth control nothing more extreme)
- They reject the traditional “left vs right” politics and offer a radical alternative
- Finally, they believe that if you agree with their principles you have a moral obligation to help implement them in society
Deep ecology does have its political critics but this appears to be motivated by a desire to buffer capitalism rather than to detract from the principles of Deep Ecology.
There are also some who criticize the movement for assuming an innate “intelligence” in non-human entities and that desires such as survival, growth, reproduction, etc. are human values with no place in the rest of the ecosystem.
Final Thoughts On The Deep Ecology Movement
When we learned about the Deep Ecology Movement it really struck a chord with us.
The principles of selfless environmentalism based on a strong ethical foundation really resonated with us and we felt strongly that there’s a lot to be learned from this system – even if you don’t accept every tenet of it.
We hope you’ve found this introduction to the Deep Ecology Movement useful too and we hope that it has inspired you to take a closer look at your own environmentalism to see what could be more ethical about it.