Deep Ecology Definition

by Laurent Cousineau
(Montreal)

Deep Ecology Intrinsically Values the Old-Growth Forest in Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro

Deep Ecology Intrinsically Values the Old-Growth Forest in Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro

Deep ecology (a term coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss) considers the deep philosophical causes to the environmental crisis and that the cure is to change our philosophical outlook.

In effect, deep ecology endorses biospheric egalitarianism, the view that all living things are alike in having value in their own right, independent of its usefulness to human purposes.

Essentially, deep ecology states that there is intrinsic value to all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. For instance, deep ecology would say that we should protect the Amazon Rainforest simply because of its inherent worth (it is valuable in and of itself).

Deep Ecology versus Shallow Ecology

Deep ecology contrasts with the shallow ecology movement (also termed by Næss) which looks only at the immediate symptoms of the environmental crisis, not its underlying causes, and is anthropocentric (focuses on humans).

For example, the shallow reaction to acid rain is to tend to avoid action by demanding more research, and the attempt to find species of trees which will tolerate high acidity.

However, the deep approach concentrates on what is going on it the total ecosystem and calls for a high priority fight against the economic conditions and the technology responsible for producing the acid rain. The long-range concerns are one hundred years, at least.

This is because deep ecology emphasizes the interdependence of all organisms living within an ecosystem, as well as the interdependence of ecosystems within the biosphere.

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