What is Deep Ecology?


A Brief History of Deep Ecology

In 1972, at a Third World Futures conference in Bucharest, Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess presented a paper which first distinguished between shallow and deep ecology. The next year, Naess published The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements, in which he presented his philosophy to the world.

He  showed that there are two ecology movements which are competing for our attention.  The fist is concerned mostly with pollution, resource depletion and the usefulness of the Earth to humans (anthropocentrism).  The second is concerned with the diversity, richness, and intrinsic value of all the Earth.  This is the Deep Ecology movement.

Naess and others spent years explaining and building the Deep Ecology movement  around the world.  In 1984, while camping in Death Valley. Naess and George Sessions conceived the eight guiding principles of Deep Ecology.  These principles are not meant to be dogmatic, but rather a starting point for discussion and action of deep ecological matters. Anyone who broadly agrees with the principles will see the implications of them in their daily lives and live accordingly.


The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)