Deep Ecology

The Norwegian ecosopher Arne Naess, one of the founders of Deep Ecology, described his goal as rejection of the man-in-environment image in favour of the relational, total-field image. It was a call for biospherical egalitarianism among all species.


“The ecological field-worker acquires a deep-seated respect, even a veneration for the ways and forms of life. He reaches an understanding from within, a kind of understanding that others reserve for fellow men…To the ecological field-worker, the equal right to live and blossom is an intuitively clear and obvious value axiom. Its restriction to humans is an anthropocentrism with detrimental effects upon the life quality of humans themselves.”

Naess is saying that there is a deep system in nature that contains us as a species.

Deep Ecology found the root cause of our environmental ills in our inveterate belief that human beings stand apart from nature and above it, whether as master or steward.

Many major environmental organizations (the shallow ecologists) continue to regard the planet as ours to do with as we see fit; their methods are essentially managerial. That assumption poisons all we try to do. It endorses our self-proclaimed superiority over nature and with it our isolation from all the beings with whom we ought to share the planet in biocentric fellowship.

The contrast between deep and shallow ecologies is revealed in the difference between those conservationists who would deal with the possible extinction of the great whale herds by setting international quotas upon their kill, and organizations like Greenpeace or Earth First, which would set the quota at zero – on the basis that no species may be denied its right to life. In a biocentric democracy, the “rights of man” belong to all species.

A question we might well ponder: when human beings unilaterally declare their superiority to all other species, who do they think is paying attention?

~ Theodore Roszak, Voice of the Earth


One response to “Deep Ecology

  1. This is an interesting post. I have done a lot of research on the ill that organizations like GreenPeace and EarthFirst! can do to the environment.

    At setting the quota to 0 we are in a sense acting as you said the “steward” to the environment. We are playing god and dictating how many animals will live and how many will die.

    I believe that we should not be setting any quota. Do cheetahs have a set quota on how many prey they slaughter in an effort to meerly survive? No. So to be truely ‘just another species’ we should be doing the same. Killing what we need to kill to survive to the next day.

    Then again I am a Deep Ecologist

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