Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Deep Ecology

Deep Ecology looks at the world and sees social and ecological problems that are accelerating to a point where our very existence is threatened. It asks and then answers the two most pertinent questions of our time:
    Why is the world so messed up?
    What are we going to do about it?
Lots of people are asking the same questions. The problem is that they only look back a few hundred years in history. So they churn out the stock standard answers of industrialization, technology, capitalism and globalization.
Deep Ecology is unique because it surveys the whole of modern man's 200,000 year history in order to find the answers that are needed to save the world.
The global scale of destruction seen by deforestation, intensive agriculture, overfishing and the use of nuclear weapons is the recent manifestation of a seed that was planted long ago. The tree is only flowering now, it's fruit being stressed, overworked, unhappy, unsatisfied people and a biosphere on the verge of receiving a critical blow.
A population that feels empty and is struggling for meaning in life is caused by the same root problem that is created our ecological nightmare. The issue is the vision of our civilization, a world view that divides the planet into what is valuable for man and what is not. We treat the earth as if it is our possession and we treat each other in exactly the same way.
A Different Way Of Thinking
Deep Ecology is the belief that the world does not exist purely as a resource for man's benefit. The world exists for its own sake. We are a part of this wonderful and diverse creation but we do not own it.
A forest is valuable not just because it provides us timber; it is good in itself. A river's value cannot be determined by how much electricity a hydro dam provides; it has its own intrinsic value.
Deep Ecology advocates a new way of life that works for people and works for the planet. It is a worldview that says man is a part of the world, a part of the community of life; not a foe that needs to conquer it.
Our culture tells us that the way we are living is the best that human beings have ever had. It is the best that we could hope for. The world was made for man and our destiny is to conquer and rule it.
But the people are miserable. They are stressed, overworked, depressed, unhealthy and unsatisfied. We are devouring the world because we have nothing else to live for, nothing else to do. It is the only way we know.
Our culture wants to save the world - but only so that man can carry on his quest to conquer it. That's why we have shallow ecology - recycling, hybrid cars and energy efficient light bulbs.
We can do better. We need something better. This isn't the best we've got.
We are told that to save the world would be a miserable business. There is so much we would have to give up. We are told that we have to make a choice - the world or our happiness.
Deep Ecology isn't about giving things up or about having less. It's about having more. More of the things we really need:
If we have more of the things we so desperately need we will be less prone to being destructive.
This isn't about eco-tips; although ecological vision is the root it goes beyond this. It is a way of thinking and a way of living that works for people. It's about getting something that is better for you and doing good for the world at the same time.
It's about examining our whole way of life; the way of life that has stemmed from our culture's root belief that mankind owns the world. It's about exploring the ways of the old cultures, the people who believed that man belonged to the Earth, and harnessing their wisdom in order to bring about personal and global transformation.

The concept of Deep Ecology has been explored and unravelled by many amazing scholars, authors and thinkers.
They might not refer to themselves as Deep Ecologists but their work has contributed to the growth of this amazing idea. This is a portal where I want to introduce you to all the wonderful people who promote and spread these important ideas.
Arne Naess
Arne Naess was a Norwegian philosopher and the man who coined the phrase Deep Ecology. He first presented these ideas at a conference in Bucharest in 1972 and published them in a paper called, "The Shallow And The Deep, Long Range Ecology Movements" in 1973.
At first people though that Naess was just putting forward his personal philosophy. In fact what he was doing was explaining a movement and a worldview that already existed at a grassroots level. These were ideas that in modern times reached back to the likes of Henry David Thoreau.
Naess introduced the idea of Deep Ecology to mainstream environmental audiences and provided a yardstick from which later thinkers could work from.
Daniel Quinn
Daniel Quinn is the author of the famous novel Ishmael, winner of the largest ever prize for a single literary work. He followed up Ishmael with The Story of B, My Ishmael and Beyond Civilization and has written numerous other titles.
Quinn is my personal favourite in the field, although he has never explicitly aligned his philosophies with those of Deep Ecology. When asked how his ideas related to Deep Ecology he replied:
    "All my ideas were developed before I'd even heard of Deep Ecology. So any connection between my work and it is purely coincidental. How the ideas of Deep Ecology relate to mine is something I prefer to leave to others to explore."
This is something I do care to explore and in my own humble opinion Quinn's ideas relate very much to this philosophy. I think that Quinn and Naess have merely come at the same problem from slightly different angles. At a fundamental level their ideas are much the same. The difference is that Quinn takes a much more holistic perspective whereas other Deep Ecologists tend to focus too much on blaming the last few hundred years of industrialization.
The real value in Quinn's work is that it has the ability to radically change a person's perception of life. Read Quinn's first book and you will be transformed from somebody who couldn't care less about social and environmental issues to somebody who doesn't care about anything else but those things.
No other book and no other author in this field has the ability to pack a punch as hard as Quinn and really bring people around to the Deep Ecology way of thinking. Daniel Quinn's books change lives and there are thousands out there who can attest to that.
I can assuredly say that there is no way I would have bothered to read the work of Arne Naess, Derrick Jensen or any others further down the page if it hadn't been for Daniel Quinn. He was my starting point and for that I will always be grateful.
Check out Daniel Quinn at his website: www.ishmael.org
Thom Hartmann
Thom Hartmann is a radio talkshow host and author of the popular book The Last Hours Of Ancient Sunlight.
Hartmann comes at the issue from a very scientific angle. He looks at our resource use and energy use and basically says, "This can't continue." He points to the examples of numerous civilizations before ours that have collapsed when they have exhausted their resources.
That alone wouldn't classify Hartmann as a Deep Ecologist. What gives him away is where he tells us to look for the solutions. Infused throughout his book are references to the Native American Indians and explanations of how they were able to live without destroying the world around them.
This exploration of indigenous values leads Hartmann to the view that man belongs to the world rather than the world belonging to man.
Check out Thom Hartmann at his website: www.thomhartmann.com
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  (Year 2050)
   Rises the sun on the parched lands
    breaking the earth with dry cracks, 
    tearing the barks of withered stems,
    burning the sands of sunny beaches,
    drying up the juices hidden in the ground,
    wrecking carcasses of picked clean bones.

    Withered lowlands, 
    unfruitful steppes,
    sulphur mines of stone slabs,
    tufts of branches,
    salty expanses, 
    desert spaces, 
    broad streams of stones, 
    holes of snakes.

    The thirsty man drags along
    his abnormal hostile shade
    which, dark, obsessive and obstinate, 
    tails him on asphalts and deserts
    to remind him of all the sins
    committed in the past against the Earth.

    Solitary, hidden by a leaning rock,
    a bud of future green is born,
    haggard bet 
    of woods,
    precarious promise 
    of coolness, 
    of life 
    and of musks.

    . Trevisani Bach