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Deep Ecology: Principles and Movements

Deep Ecology

The term “ecology” emerges from the science of biology, where it is applied to portray the various ways in which living things interrelate with each other and their environment. Thus, deep ecology is an environmental faction that seeks to emphasize the importance of human relationship with nature. The main idea is that human beings are part of nature and are therefore not separate from it. Deep ecology depicts itself as “deep” because it raises intensive questions about human purposes and values, when analyzing environmental conflicts (Brett, 2000). A philosopher, Arnie Naess argued that humans need ecological wisdom in order to understand deep experience and commitment in order to support the sustainability of the natural environment.

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Deep ecology is characterized by eight guiding principles. According to Naess and Sessions (2000), the principles include:

  1. The human and non-human life on the earth have guiding values that are independent on each other in regard to usefulness.
  2. Richness and diversity of existence enhances those values and also constitute the values.
  3. Human beings have an obligation to respect the richness and diversity of the natural environment.
  4. Human life and practices are compatible with extensive decrease in the general human population. The prosperous non-human life needs such a decrease.
  5. The current human intrusion with natural world is excessive, and this is dramatically worsening.
  6. Policies must thus be altered. These changes affect the economical, technological, and ideological aspects. The resulting impact will be deeply dissimilar to the present.
  7. The ideological strategy is deemed to mainly appreciate quality as opposed to an increasingly higher standard of living.
  8. Those who acknowledge the previous points have a duty to participate in attempts to implement essential changes.

Therefore, the aspirations of deep ecologists are achievable considering the fact that humans are rational and they have ethical principles that guide them in living with harmony with the natural environment.

Deep and Shallow Ecological Movements

Ecologists like Arnie Naess spearheaded ecological movements that explain the relationship of the various components in the ecosystem. These ecological movements are “deep” ecology and “shallow” ecology. Therefore, the similarities between the two forms of environmentalism can be depicted in the way they are concerned with environmental conflicts. Both movements are concerned about the welfare of the environment, in that they involve looking at the way humans relate to non-human life. They emphasize the enhancement and shaping of environmental policies in a view to preserve the value of all living things (Zimmerman, 1989).

However, the two ecological movements are differentiated with their level of questioning of environmental matters. The shallow ecology movement is mainly involved in controlling pollution and resource exhaustion. Its main goal is the welfare and affluence of humans in the developed nations. Consequently, this movement promotes technological advancements like increasing automotive efficiency and recycling. Thus, ecologist, Naess argues that this approach does not consider the complete level of essential change.

On the other hand, deep ecology has deeper involvements in the purposes and values of humans in regard to environmental conflicts. The major principles in this approach include devolution, diversity, social equality, complexity, autonomy, and classlessness. Considering the basic principles, deep ecology is characterized by the following (Naess & Sessions, 2000): 1. Elimination of man–in-environment image in support of total-field image: there is intrinsic relation between organisms within a certain environment. 2. Biospherical egalitarianism-in principle. In this aspect of “in principle”, there is a deep respect for all forms of nature. 3. Diversity promotes the potentialities of survival, the probabilities of new forms of life, and the wellness of life. 4. Diversity is also brought about by exploitation and suppression of certain groups of people. 5. Pollution and resource degradation are fought against. 6. The theory of ecosystems explains an essential difference between what is complicated without considering any unifying principle, thus complexity as opposed to complication which favors division of labor.

Humans and Environmental Problems

Every living thing in the ecosystem has a duty, a mission to sustain and achieve in their lives. For most animals, their role is to endure, outlive other animals, have offspring, and keep their family alive. Human beings are meant to follow the general structure of other animals, but through the scarcity of resources, the role of man is to earn money in any possible way. This endless need from the human perspective has greatly influenced the ecosystem in a negative way; the major environmental problems that have affected nature include deforestation, depletion of natural resources through pollution, and global warming. In essence, as “social creatures”, all humans have a sense of responsibility to protect the environment since all human actions affect the environment in one way or the other.

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It is the duty, the obligation of each individual, the society to care for the natural environment through a deep ecological thinking in order to control the major environmental problems. In addition, the environment is the things around humans that affect them directly or indirectly. Humans have an obligation physically if not socially to do something to protect the environment; it is clear that if an environmental problem like global warming grips the world, everybody suffers. Therefore, thinking of the environment as our own, we can be able to take measures that can control the degradation of the environment.


An Interview with Zimmerman M., by AtKisson, A.(1989). Introduction to deep ecology. 2009. Web.

Brett,N. (2000). Ecological and Psychological Study. 2009. Web.

Naess, A., & Sessions, G. (2000). The Eight Principles of Deep Ecology. 2009. Web.

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