Thursday, September 3, 2009


My copy of 'The Earth Report 2' contains an entry titled 'deep ecology', but i never actually read it, assuming it was a brief article on animals and plants that live in extremely deep parts of the ocean. How wrong I turned out to be when I finally read the entry.

Deep ecology is actually a branch of ecological philosophy that places a greater value on both human and non-human species alike, as well as on the ecosystem and processes in nature, and establishing environmental and green movements. Wikipedia states that: "The core principle of deep ecology is the claim that, like humanity, the living environment as a whole has the same right to live and flourish. Deep ecology describes itself as "deep" because it persists in asking deeper questions concerning "why" and "how" and thus is concerned with the fundamental philosophical questions about the impacts of human life as one part of the ecosphere".

Therein lies the first difference between deep and 'shallow' ecology- shallow ecology views humans as separate from their environment, and is concerned about environmental preservation purely because of human interests. 'Shallow' ecologists, therefore, are worried about such matters as which countries will be flooded due to climate change, certainly noble, but they ignore issues like global warming's effects on wildlife and biodiversity.

Second, deep ecology rejects the industrial worldview of 'mechanical mechanism', instead seeing the world as a whole. It refutes claims that the world can be broken down into separately and independently existing parts for analysis. It therefore understands that global warming caused deaths of butterflies (a real example) will have bigger ramifications further up the food chain, as opposed to a shallow ecologist's blunt "They're dead butterflies. So what?"

And, lastly, shallow ecology accepts that the dominant ideology is of economic growth. Therefore, in a shallow ecologist's mind, how much he should spend on green programs are always dictated by the cash he has readily available, and by the cheapest such programs he can get away with. Stopping oil-sands projects in favour of detailed environmental studies (another real example) are therefore out of the question; plus, green programs that might not be effective but can pull in revenue (like eco-tourism- its' impact on animal lifestyles is highly debatable) are always their favoured choice of environmental policy. Deep ecologists, however, understand that environmental concerns take foremost priority over economic ones.

In short, it is high time we show shallow ecology the door, along with its' methods of saving the planet, especially geoengineering. To stop global warming and every other environmental problem, we are going to think real deep.

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