Deep Ecology

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Deep Ecology


The following is my personal “Deep Ecology Without The Platform” statement, which was derived with contributions from fellow radical ecocentric environmentalists. It is meant as a discussion guide to supplement the Arne Naess/George Sessions eight-point Deep Ecology Platform. It is posted here in the belief that it may be useful to others.

1. Deep Ecology (DE) is a conceptual approach or general orientation in our thinking first given this name in the early seventies by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess. DE means to ask deeper questions and not to stay on the surface of things. It is meant to stimulate thought and discussion rather than confining it or shutting it down. Shallow ecology, a term also coined by Naess, means that the major ecological problems can be resolved within and with the continuation of industrial society. Yet this industrial society has caused the Earth-threatening ecological crisis. DE says major ecological problems cannot be resolved within the existing capitalist or socialist-industrialist economic system. DE promotes biological, cultural, and social diversity. Respect for diversity avoids dogmatism in ideas and organization forms and the elevation of ideas above life itself.

2. Perhaps the heart of DE is the belief that there has to be a fundamental change in consciousness for humans, in how they relate to the natural world. This requires a change from a human-centered (anthropocentric) to an ecocentric perspective, meaning humans as a species have no superior status in Nature. All other species have a right to exist, irrespective of their usefulness to the human species or human societies. Humans cannot presume dominance over all non-human species of life and see Nature as a “resource” for human and corporate utilization.

3. DE says that voluntary population stabilization and reduction must be a priority for us to live in any long-term relationship with our planet. People living in industrialized societies, with what is considered to be a high standard of living, proportionately despoil the Earth much more than those living is less industrialized societies. Therefore it is important for deep ecology supporters to live simply and demonstrate in their lives, the difference between life quality and high consumerism.

4. All of us must be involved at some level in changing the existing situation. Part of this change is for activists who can accept the general orientation of DE, to popularize it and then to apply it, through detailed work, to actual ecological issues such as forestry, agriculture, biocides, wildlands, marine, energy, population, so that concrete alternative paths forward can be demonstrated. In this way, the contradictions with proceeding on the path of increasing monocultural growth and consumerism for the Earth and society itself, can be clearly brought out. While DE is primarily a fundamental shift in ecological consciousness, the organizational dimensions of this shift need to be explored and discussed by activists.

David Orton
[email protected]
September 29, 1997


We happily link to the following organizations, all of whom share our strong commitment to promoting community and a more cooperative world:
Cohousing The Federation of Egalitarian Communities - Communes Coop Community Cooperative Sustainable Intentional North American Students of Cooperation Global Ecovillage Network