Deep Ecology

Deep Ecology is a term applied by Arne Naess to ecological movements that look at ecological problems from a less anthropocentric perspective. Introduced in a 1972 paper and then subsequently in a 1973 talk, the term was not meant to define a new thing, but rather to capture some existing trends in the grassroots environmentalism of the 1970s.

According to Naess, in “Shallow Ecology” the goal was the “health and affluence of people in the developed countries”.  Shallow ecology focused on issues of pollution and resource depletion, issues that were important from a societal perspective. (html)

Deep ecology identified what it believed were systemic issues which led to ecological imbalance and environmental destruction. Influenced by the systems theory of the time but seeing itself as distinct from it, it took as its principles the following ideas:

  1. Rejection of the man-in-environment image in favor the relational, total-field image
  2. Biospherical egalitarianism-in principle.
  3. Principles of diversity and of symbiosis.
  4. Anti-class posture.
  5. Fight against pollution and resource depletion.
  6. Complexity, not complication.
  7. Local autonomy and decentralization.

It also pushed against the scientific basis of the environmental movement, arguing for a more normative, philosophical approach.


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