Deep Ecology

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Deep Ecology refers to the central idea that we are part of the earth, rather than being apart and separate from it. It is described by the as "a holistic approach to facing world problems that brings together thinking, feeling, spirituality and action. It involves moving beyond the individualism of Western culture towards also seeing ourselves as part of the earth. This leads to a deeper connection with life, where Ecology is not just seen as something 'out there', but something we are part of and have a role to play in."[1]

Deep Ecology is seen as a new world view.

According to RainforestInfo,

The term 'Deep Ecology' was first introduced by the Norwegian activist and philosopher Arne Naess in the early 1970's, when stressing the need to move beyond superficial responses to the social and ecological problems we face. He proposed that we ask 'deeper questions', looking at the 'why and how' of the way we live and seeing how this fits with our deeper beliefs, needs and values. Asking questions like "How can I live in a way that is good for me, other people and our planet?" may lead us to make deep changes in the way we live. Deep Ecology can also be seen as part of a much wider process of questioning of basic assumptions in our society that is leading to a new way of looking at science, politics, healthcare, education, spirituality and many other areas. Because this change in the way we see things is so wide ranging, it has been called a new 'worldview'. It tends to emphasise the relationships between different areas, bringing together personal and social change, science and spirituality, economics and ecology. Deep Ecology applies this new worldview to our relationship with the earth. In doing this, it challenges deep-seated assumptions about the way we see ourselves, moving from just seeing ourselves as 'individuals' towards also seeing ourselves as part of the earth. This can increase both our sense of belonging in life and our tendency to act for life.[2]

This idea is in contrast to the dominant individualism of our culture, where seeing ourselves as separate from our world makes it easier not to be bothered by what's happening in it.

Notable advocates of deep ecology (from wikipedia)


Criticism of Deep Ecology

  • Useful Resources
  • P.S. Edler, "Legal Rights for Nature - The Wrong Answer to the Right(s) Question", Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 22, 1984.
  • Richard Sylvan, A Critique of Deep Ecology (1985); also published in two parts by Radical Philosophy, 40, 41, 1985.
  • George Bradford, "Toward a Deep Social Ecology," in Environmental Philosophy.
  • George Bradford, "How deep is deep ecology: a challenge to radical environmentalism," Fifth Estate, Fall 1987.
  • Murray Bookchin, "Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement", Green Perspectives: Newsletter of the Green Program Project, nos. 4-5 (summer 1987).
  • Tim Lukes, "The Dreams of Deep Ecology," Telos, No.76 (Summer 1988).
  • Brian Tokar, "Exploring the new ecologies: social ecology, deep ecology and the future of green political thought," Alternatives, 15 (4), 1988.
  • Brian Tokar, "Ecological radicalism," Zmag, December 1988.
  • Andrew Dobson, "Deep ecology," Cogito, Spring 1989.
  • Ramachandra Guha, "Radical American environmentalism and Wilderness preservation: a third world critique," Environmental Ethics, 11, 1989. (republished In: Ramachandra Guha and Joan Martínez Alier, Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South. London: Earthscan Publications, 1997.
  • Lewis Hinchman and Sandra Hinchman, "'Deep Ecology' and the revival of natural right," Western Political Quarterly, 42, 1989.
  • Jim Cheney, "The neo-stoicism of radical environmentalism," Environmental Ethics, 11, 1989.
  • Kirkpatrick Sale, "The cutting edge: deep ecology and its critics", The Nation, May 14, 1988.
  • James J. Hughes, "Beyond Bookchinism", Socialist Review, 89(3), 1989, pp.103-110.
  • Murray Bookchin, Re-Enchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human Spirit against Anti-Humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism, and Primitivism (Cassell, 1995).
  • Ross Wolfe, "Man and Nature", April 22, 2011. (first version published by Thinking Nature. Related

Sourcewatch resources

External resources


  1. Christine Johnstone What is Deep Ecology?, the Institute for Deep Ecology (U.K.), website, accessed january 13, 2012
  2. Christine Johnstone What is Deep Ecology?, the Institute for Deep Ecology (U.K.), website, accessed january 13, 2012