The phrase deep ecology was introduced by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Nęss in 1973.
Deep ecology is an offshoot of the ecology movement. It is notable for statements that the Earth's carrying capacity for the human population was quite limited, and that it could carry no more than one to two billion people living at feasible levels of technology, in the long term. That claim led many to believe that they were advocating human extinction. Some did, in fact, but a voluntary form of it, consisting of not having any children.
Many of the ideas of deep ecology have been expounded in the book The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. The book, a fictional account of ecotage directed against dams, influenced Earth First!.
There has been considerable debate among North American Greens between advocates of deep ecology and advocates of the social ecology of Murray Bookchin. These are distinguishable from the more limited and generic view of a deep ecology which includes human beings as an inherent organ of Earth, the Gaia philosophy which sees the Earth itself as one living thing, and the more limited goals of the scientific ecology movement, political environmental movement, and aesthetic conservation movement.
Deep ecology exercised relatively little influence on Green parties, political ecologists, environmentalists, the peace movement and the ecology movement, which were busy trying to prevent human extinction via nuclear war or other weapons of mass destruction.
Deep ecologists view humans as just one of many animal species subject to the population dynamics and to die-off, described by the science of ecology. Deep ecologists differentiate themselves from (shallow) environmentalism, which they view as anthropocentric (human-centered).
Notable advocates of deep ecology
Last updated: 07-31-2005 11:04:44