There is a significant difference between how ‘shallow ecologists’ and ‘deep ecologists’ interpret ecological theory. Deep ecologists completely reject anthropocentrism: the purpose of human life is to sustain nature. Environmental crisis has profound cultural and intellectual roots – the problem being a mechanistic world-view based on scientism. Deep ecologists therefore argue we must fundamentally change the way we understand the world, and look to modern physics, eastern mysticism and primitive religion for this ‘paradigm shift’. Whilst rejecting a ‘dualistic world-view’ as eco-feminism, eco-socialism, eco-anarchism and shallow ecologists have, instead embracing a ‘holistic’ world view: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore deep ecology is associated with wilderness preservation – the unspoilt natural world is a repository of wisdom and morality - , controversially with population control, simple living –from having to ‘being and finding self-actualization – and bioregionalism, human society should be reconfigured with naturally defined borders.
In contrast, shallow ecologists view deep ecology as deeply flawed, both philosophically and morally: philosophically as it believes anthropocentrism and ecology are mutually exclusive; morally because humanists see environmental ethics cannot be non-anthropocentric because morality is a human construct. In contrast, shallow ecologists accept the lessons of ecology, yet use them to further human needs and ends. Therefore amounting to a form of ‘enlightened anthropocentrism’. Practicing ‘weak sustainability’ in contrast to the ‘strong sustainability’ of ‘deep ecology’. Attempting to reconcile ecology with economic growth, getting richer but at a slower pace, often achieved through progressive taxation.