responsible policies are concerned only in part with pollution and resource
depletion. There are deeper concerns, which touch upon principles of diversity,
complexity, autonomy, decentralization, symbiosis, egalitarianism, and
EMERGENCE OF ECOLOGISTS from their former relative obscurity marks a turning
point in our scientific communities. But their message is twisted and misused. A
shallow, but presently rather powerful movement, and a deep, but less
influential movement, compete for our attention. I shall make an effort to
characterize the two.
THE SHALLOW ECOLOGY MOVEMENT
against pollution and resource depletion. Central objective: the health and
affluence of people in the developed countries.
THE DEEP ECOLOGY MOVEMENT
Ecological egalitarianism implies the reinterpretation
of the future-research variable, “level of crowding,” so that general
mammalian crowding and loss of life-equality is taken seriously, not only human
crowding. (Research on the high requirements of free space of certain mammals
has, incidentally, suggested that theorists of human urbanism have largely
underestimated human life-space requirements. Behavioral crowding symptoms
[neuroses, aggressiveness, loss of traditions…] are largely the same among
The latter tends to reduce the multiplicity of kinds of
forms of life, and also to create destruction within the communities of the same
species. Ecologically inspired attitudes therefore favor diversity of human ways
of life, of cultures, of occupations, of economies. They support the fight
against economic and cultural, as much as military, invasion and domination, and
they are opposed to the annihilation of seals and whales as much as to that of
human tribes or cultures.
Ecologists are irreplaceable informants in any society,
whatever their political color. If well organized, they have the power to reject
jobs in which they submit themselves to institutions or to planners with limited
ecological perspectives. As it is now, ecologists sometimes serve masters who
deliberately ignore the wider perspectives.
Applied to humans, the complexity-not-complication
principle favors division of labor, not fragmentation of labor. It favors
integrated actions in which the whole person is active, not mere reactions. It
favors complex economies, an integrated variety of means of living.
(Combinations of industrial and agricultural activity, of intellectual and
manual work, of specialized and non-specialized occupations, of urban and
non-urban activity, of work in city and recreation in nature with recreation in
city and work in nature...)
The implementation of ecologically responsible policies requires in this century an exponential growth of technical skill and invention—but in new directions, directions which today are not consistently and liberally supported by the research policy organs of our nation-states.
Local autonomy and decentralization. The vulnerability of a form of life is
roughly proportional to the weight of influences from afar, from outside the
local region in which that form has obtained an ecological equilibrium.
lends support to our efforts to strengthen local self-government and material
and mental self-sufficiency. But these efforts presuppose an impetus toward
decentralization. Pollution problems, including those of thermal pollution and
re-circulation of materials, also lead us in this direction, because increased
local autonomy, if we are able to keep other factors constant, reduces energy
consumption. (Compare an approximately self-sufficient locality with one
requiring the importation of foodstuff, materials for house construction, fuel
and skilled labor from other continents. The former may use only 5 percent of
the energy used by the latter.) Local autonomy is strengthened by a reduction in
the number of links in the hierarchical chains of decision. (For example a chain
consisting of local board, municipal council, highest sub-national decision
maker, a statewide institution in a state federation, a federal national
government institution, a coalition of nations, and of institutions, for
example, EEC top levels, and a global institution can be reduced to one made up
of local board, nationwide institution, and global institution.) Even if a
decision follows majority rules at each step, many local interests may be
dropped along the line, if it is too long.
Summing up, then, it should, first of all, be borne in mind that the norms and tendencies of the Deep Ecology movement are not derived from ecology by logic or induction. Ecological knowledge and the life-style of the ecological field worker have suggested, inspired, and forwarded the perspectives of the Deep Ecology movement. Many of the formulations in the above seven-point survey are rather vague generalizations, only tenable if made more precise in certain directions. But all over the world the inspiration from ecology has shown remarkable convergences. The survey does not pretend to be more than one of the possible condensed codifications of these convergences.
it should be fully appreciated that the significant tenets of the Deep Ecology
movement are clearly and forcefully normative. They express a value priority
system only in part based on results (or lack of results, cf. point 6) of
scientific research. Today, ecologists try to influence policymaking bodies
largely through threats, through predictions concerning pollutants and resource
depletion, knowing that policy makers accept at least certain minimum norms
concerning health and just distribution. But it is clear that there is a vast
number of people in all countries, and even a considerable number of people in
power, who accept as valid the wider norms and values characteristic of the Deep
Ecology movement. There are political potentials in this movement which should
not be overlooked and which have little to do with pollution and resource
depletion. In plotting possible futures, the norms should be freely used and
in so far as ecology movements reserve our attention, they are eco-philosophical
rather than ecological. Ecology is a limited science which makes use of
scientific methods. Philosophy is the most general forum of debate on
fundamentals, inscriptive as well as proscriptive and political. Ecosophy is one
of its subsections. By an ecosophy I mean a philosophy of ecological harmony or
equilibrium. A philosophy as a kind of sophia is openly normative; it
contains norms, rules, postulates, value priority announcements and hypotheses
concerning the state of affairs in our universe. Wisdom is policy wisdom,
prescription, not only scientific description and prediction.
details of an ecosophy will show many variations due to significant differences
concerning not only “facts” of pollution, resources, population, etc., but
also value priorities. Today, however, the seven points listed provide one
unified framework for ecosophical systems.
general system theory, systems are mostly conceived in terms of causally or
functionally interacting or interrelated items. An ecosophy, however, is more
like a system of the kind constructed by Aristotle or Spinoza. It is expressed verbally as a set
of sentences with a variety of functions, descriptive and prescriptive. The
basic relation is that between subsets of premises and subsets of conclusions,
that is, the relation of derivability. The relevant notions of derivability may
be classed according to rigor, with logical and mathematical deductions topping
the list, but also according to how much is implicitly taken for granted. An
exposition of an ecosophy must necessarily be only moderately precise
considering the vast scope of relevant ecological and normative (social,
political, ethical) material. At the moment, ecosophy might profitably use
models of systems, rough approximations of global systematizations. It is the
global character, not preciseness in detail, which distinguishes an ecosophy. It
articulates and integrates the efforts of an ideal ecological team, a team
comprising not only scientists from an extreme variety of disciplines, but also
students of politics and active policy makers.
Under the name of ecologism, various deviations from the deep movement have been championed—primarily with a one-sided stress on pollution and resource depletion, but also with a neglect of the great differences between under and over-developed countries in favor of a vague global approach. The global approach is essential, but regional differences must largely determine policies in the coming years.