Deep ecology is a way of life. A way of life that is shifting the way we view ourselves as humans. Deep ecology is the means of shifting the value of humans to non-human nature. Humans can no longer look at themselves as the sole entity of the ecosystem, but part of a whole that needs each part to successfully work. Fritjof Capra believes that shifting our views from the old world anthropocentric to new world non-anthropocentric is the key to the survival of the human race.
Having anthropocentric views means that you believe that humans hold a higher value than nature does. Capra states that before the seventeen century scientific revolution, humans once held non-anthropocentric views. Humans viewed themselves as part of the natural order of life and scientists believed that humans should work in synch with nature. This thinking changed during the seventeen century scientific revolution, when the goals of scientists changed from working in synch with nature to controlling nature.
This shift in thinking and values greatly changed the views of humans from non-anthropocentric to anthropocentric. For many years now, humans have held anthropocentric views and values, but Capra pleads that humans shift their thinking once again to the new paradigm that is deep ecology. Deep ecology, as Capra states, “is now crucial for our well-being–even for our survival! — and such a shift is indeed occurring. ” Capra believes that deep ecology will change the way that we as humans see nature as well as our daily lives.
One of the main reasons why we do not already see deep ecology values in our daily lives is because, as Arne Naess insists, “if professional ecologists persist in voicing their value priorities, their jobs are often in danger, or they tend to lose influence and status among those who are in charge of overall policies. ” Naess believes that the current policies of ecology are founded on shallow, short-term human interests, which desperately need to change. Naess calls for true deep ecologists to ask the hard questions on economic and political policies so that our future can one day shift from shallow to deep ecology thinking.
The shallow ecology approach is inundated with technological optimism, economic undertones, industrialization, and does not account for true change in policies. The shift from shallow to deep ecology would create an element of “self-realization” that would change the way people view all life. People would now embrace all life forms as individual selves on the planet. Once people have embraced all life forms as individual selves in nature, the idea of nature as self can be manifested.
Neil Evernden described nature as three different understandings: nature as miracle, nature as object, and nature as self. Nature as miracle is a view that many people consider highly unlikely, but it involves nature being uncanny and unpredictable. Nature perceived as a miracle has disappeared over time due to the fact that we as humans have found the world to be very predictable and homogenous, thus we do not recognize any miraculous event when they occur. Nature as object is just as it sounds, nature is perceived as a collection of objects.
The importance of the objects subsequently changed after the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The release of Silent Spring in 1962 resulted in the start of the environmental moment that made the environment the endangered species. This prompted people to view nature as a collection of important objects instead of just regular objects. This change made people more aware of nature, but the basic understanding of nature did not change at all. This resulted in not much change in the environmental movement, which surprised many individuals.
The change would have been even less significant if Rachel Carson had used the understanding of nature as self, which is where nature is considered an extension of oneself. Nature as self promotes a very human-like relationship with nature and people often believe that nature is a part of themselves. Therefore, the loss of nature is also considered a loss of self. This belief is unappealing with many humans because it goes against the current belief of anthropocentrism. Nature as self allows humans to stop controlling nature and lets nature naturally evolve on its own.
According to George Sessions, Aldo Leopold described ecosystem conservation as “protecting the ongoing dynamic continuum of evolutionary processes that constitutes the overall ecological health of the planet. ” Sessions believes that ecosystem conservation is a very important aspect of deep ecology that will allow for the continuation of evolutionary processes. Sessions presents multiple suggestions for ecosystem conservation, one being that humans use protective zoning on the remaining 10% of wilderness in order to ensure the conservation of ecosystems for the future.
This would require humans to move to the edges of continents to allow healthy ecological and evolutionary advancement of the interior land. The minimal interference of nature by humans would allow nature to naturally restore itself. Another suggestion for ecosystem conservation is to create model biosphere reserves around the world. The belief of ecosystem conservation is already adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and they have labeled that “every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to man,” which is a principle of deep ecology.
Deep ecology, as Ramachandra Guha believes, is really just an American idea. He suggests that deep ecology is at the forefront of environmentalism and it is best viewed as a radical trend that is particular to Western civilizations. Although many people believe that over-population of the world is one of the main reasons for ecological problems, Guha disagrees. He suggests that the main reasons why the globe is facing ecological problems is “over-consumption by the industrialized world and by urban elites in the Third World and growing militarization,” both of which are not rooted in anthropocentrism.
For example, India has a much larger population than America, but consumes significantly less than America. Guha also states that if deep ecology were put into practice worldwide, the social consequences could be very destructive. He believes that deep ecology would change the way that humans consume. If humans, particularly Americans, did not consume as much as normal the world economy would significantly decrease. Many foreign markets survive off of producing products that Americans consume, so if Americans were to cut back consumption, it could send the world into an economic crisis.
Guha believes that a much more logical solution would be to “work toward a synthesis of appropriate technology, alternate life style, and peace movements. ” Although there are many theories of deep ecology, I have my own opinion. I believe that the world is very anthropocentric, but I do not agree that our current future lies completely in deep ecology. I agree with Guha when he states that if deep ecology were put into practice worldwide that there would be social consequences. If the United States changed from being a consumer nation, there would be an international economic crisis.
Countries like China and India, which produce the most imported goods for America, would falter economically. Although, at the same time I do believe that there is increasingly too much consumption and this is causing the world to lose its wildness factor. This wildness, however, will never fully return because deep ecology is just not the correct option for the future. There is obviously a division between shallow and deep ecology, but I feel that the best way to continue on as the human race is to focus on shallow ecology with more education towards ecosystem conservation.
There is absolutely no way that deep ecology is an option for the current future of the world. People in today’s societies (particularly American) have become too accustomed to living a comfortable lifestyle, and there would be absolutely no way the necessary amount of humans would give up their feeling of comfort in order to save the ecosystem. I also agree with Guha on how to move forward as humans. We as humans must work towards creating appropriate technological advances that do not harm the environment and we must suggest living alternative lifestyles.
Although many humans will not adopt an alternative lifestyle, I believe that many people would change their lifestyles to help lessen consumption problems. We must also increase our efforts to teach people about ecosystem conservation. The more people know about conservation, the more people will be willing to consume less, which will help with the conservation of the ecosystems. Deep ecology is currently not a viable solution to the future of the world, but when humans are on the brink of extinction, it may be our only chance for survival.