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What is the difference between deep(TM) and shallow(TM) ecology

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

12. What is the difference between 'deep' and 'shallow' ecology? Ecology can be understood as a branch of biology that has extended into a political ideology, of nature as an interconnected whole1. The two branches of 'deep' and 'shallow' ecology were termed by Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, and allow some distinction into the varied ecologist groups and views within contemporary society. 'Shallow' ecology, otherwise known as 'weak' ecology or environmentalism, supports an anthropocentric view and endorses that the natural world is something to be nurtured and preserved in order to support human life. 'Deep' ecology, on the other hand, is far more challenging in that it suggests that human life holds equal weighting with any other life form. The vast differences between these two threads can be analysed in a number of areas. Through economic growth, anthropocentric views, the different ways these can be seen, and the problems facing ecology as a whole, we are able to determine a clearer picture of not only deep and shallow threads of ecology, but in the political ideologies of nature as a whole. Ecological ideas can be traced back to as far as the protest against the rise of industrialisation and urbanisation in the nineteenth century2, although mechanistic ideas were created up to two centuries previous in the scientific revolution.3 Shallow ecologists, in light of economic principles, approve of obtaining wealth at a gradual rate, and believe that material costs can be balanced against environmental ones. Deep ecologists, alternatively, argue that this is not nearly radical enough and that materialism itself is the cause of the ecological crisis4, trying to reach "beyond the perspectives of conventional political creeds"5.

Middle

The rights of animals have the same moral status as humans, and nature is an ethical community where human beings are 'plain citizens'20; anything else is 'specieism'21. In 2001, in North America and Europe alone, approximately 17 billion land animals were raised and killed for their meat. Most lived and died in conditions we as humans would consider to be 'morally repugnant', but this is justified as the majority of human beings believe that animals do not have an equal standing or moral consideration22. As Peter Singer explains, "we cannot know what (animals) are feeling, but then nor can we know with other people"23. Just because other human beings exist in the same conditions as ourselves does not mean we can assess the difference in levels of pain between themselves and us, or between us and animals. Shallow ecology, on the other hand, accepts many of the lessons of ecology but exists to harness them to human needs and ends. The natural world will provide for us in years to come should we nurture it now. On the other hand, the social organisation of many societies has been created upon the exploitation of the natural world, and thus has become almost acceptable24. Some radically shallow ecologists, however, go as far as to suggest that nothing should be left in its original or natural condition, as such non-use would be a waste, and wastage of resources should be eliminated. This view regards the non-human world in use value terms25.

Conclusion

The population crisis can be seen by both 'deep' and 'shallow' ecologists, however it is often seen in different lights. 'Deep' ecologists often consider this population crisis as the source of almost all ecological problems, whereas shallow ecologists see it as a factor in deteriorating the quality of life for future generations38. Already methods are in place to counter it, such as the 'one child' policy in China. However, it could be considered by many, radical ecologists in particular, that if in societies across the world it comes to this kind of necessary extreme, it may perhaps be too late to save both humankind and the surrounding environment alike. In relation to location, many countries have significantly larger amounts of valuable resources than others, and difficulties arise in whether to keep these private or whether there are obligations to share them with the rest of the human population in an equal, deeply ecological way39. Also, many societies, particularly Westernized ones unused to a deep ecological form of thinking, are unable to argue environmental concerns for purely non-human related causes, although they might think they are doing just that40. As shown throughout the areas of economic growth, viewpoints on the relationship between animals and humans, and the problems and public faces of deep and shallow ecologies, there is a clear distinction between these ideologies. Peter Bunyard declared that "what is missing is any sense of a more impartial, biocentric view in which the nonhuman world is considered to be of intrinsic value"41, and only through incorporating aspects of both deep and shallow forms of ecology can such a view ever be achieved.

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