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To what extent are there important distinctions between deep and light green ecology?
Ecologism can be split into `deep' and `light green', or `shallow', forms. Deep ecologists such as Naess
advocate that humans are not superior to any other forms of species and instead should work within nature,
as equals to all animal and plant species. On the other hand, light green ecologists argue in favour of
anthropocentrism, believing that humans are superior but as a species we need to develop a way of
surviving with minimal damage to the environment. Because of this, there are several important distinctions
between the two forms of the ideology. Deep and light green ecologists fundamentally differ on their
attitudes to holism. Holism is the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, therefore they
cannot exist or be understood independently of the whole. This is the belief of deep ecologists, who
advocate radical holism to make humanity work on par with nature, whereas light green ecologists promote
reluctant holism, recognising that holism should be an element of the human relationship with nature, but
not the fundamental core of it.
In addition to this distinction between deep and light green ecology, the debate with regards to human
consciousness highlights the separate beliefs of the two examples of ecologism. Light green ecologists
argue that ecologism is used to promote the personal development of the individual, therefore by an
individual reducing their detrimental effect on the environment, they will experience personal growth and
enlightenment, or self-fulfilment. Conversely, deep ecologists argue that in order to protect the environment
the collective consciousness of humanity must change, moving away from one based on greed and avarice
to a consciousness willing to protect and function alongside the environment.
The question regarding humanity and nature is not the only issue ecologists tackle, and deep and light green
ecologists also differ on their attitudes towards animals. Deep ecologists triumph the cause of animal rights,
therefore animal rights activists groups, such as Animal Aid and the Dr Hadwen Trust can be defined as deep
ecologist groups. Light ecologists share a concern for animals, but they focus on animal welfare over animal
rights. Light ecologists, therefore, recognise that some animal testing is required, but argue it should be
conducted in humane conditions and should not be detrimental to their welfare. They also argue against the
destruction of natural habitats, arguing that these areas should be preserved in order to protect the welfare
of the animal and plant species that survive there.
In conclusion, it is clear that there are numerous distinctions between deep and light green ecologism,
including issues regarding anthropocentrism, holism, the human consciousness and animals. Their concerns
also stretch into economics, with light green ecologists arguing in favour of sustainable economic growth,
whereas deep ecologists argue remain anti-growth. This therefore evidences that the fundamental important
distinctions are related to their perspective on the state and role of humanity. Deep ecologists therefore
argue that humans should work alongside nature, whereas light green ecologists believe humans are
superior, but should preserve the environment for future generations. Due to these distinctions, deep
ecologism can be regarded as true ecologism, whereas light green ecologism can be referred to as merely
What is meant by the term `deep ecology'?
Deep ecology is a form of ecologism concentrating on the human relationship with nature, arguing that
humankind has equal status with nature. Deep ecologist Fritjof Capra believes that "Quantum Theory thus
reveals a basic oneness of the universe", translating that humanity is not superior to any other aspect of the
environment or the universe; the "basic oneness" cannot be broken. This connects with the romanticist
argument of ecologism, that science and philosophy are the fundamental bases of deep ecologism.
Therefore, the term `deep ecology' denotes the belief that homo sapiens are equal to all other species.
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This deep ecologist doctrine implies a radical holistic transformation; the human consciousness has to be
revolutionised so it recognises the intimate interconnection between the human species and the
environment. This view is evidences in the philosophy of Arne Naess, who argues that "We must realise that
when basic needs have been met, human development is about being more, not having more.…read more
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Whilst most deep
ecologists only propose reform, many believe in a more revolutionary method.
Why are some feminists also ecologists?
There are some similarities between feminism and ecologism, which means some feminists are also
ecologists. Some feminists, especially from the early manifestation in the eighteenth century, believed that
women had a natural biological affinity with the natural world; women have a more caring nature than men
and this relates to their natural environment.…read more