16 June 2008

Are you deep or shallow?

Since the inception of the modern environmentalist movement, there have been two major sections who both define what “being green” really means. The mainstream (and more popular) idea focuses on consumer environmentalism, where the buyer makes purchases based on whether or not the product is environmentally friendly. This is the environmentalism we are all familiar with – buy (certified) organic produce, recycle your milk jugs, and – look – you’ve helped save the world!

However, there is another branch of the green movement which feels that recycling just isn’t enough. Often, this movement, usually referred to as deep ecology or ecologism, is affiliated with radical groups such as Earth First! and PETA. With its ecocentric message, ecologism is often referred to by consumer-based environmentalists as misanthropic, which, of course, deters many people from even exploring dark green beliefs.

But is being deep really so radical? Many people don’t even realize that they are already following ecologist principles. Because ecologism is not an associative ideology like environmentalism, which attaches itself to an already existing political party, it often remains unknown to the public, especially in the United States. Ecologism has its own clearly defined principles that don’t adhere to the conservative and liberal parties. Here is just a short list of some of these principles:

  • Emphasis on the spiritual and intrinsic importance of nature (Gaia hypothesis)
  • Limits to growth is a reality
  • Government decentralization (focus on local government)
  • Anti-class posture
  • Interdependence and complexity of systems

Just by looking at this list, it becomes apparent that ecologism is not part of any existing political system. It contains the aspects and principles of many political theories. I hadn’t even heard of ecologism myself until I took an environmental politics class in Ireland, where there is a much more prominent Green Party throughout Europe. After reading more dark green literature, I realized how much I agreed with ecologist principles.

Try it out for yourself. For more information on ecologism, try Andrew Dobson’s book Green Political Thought.

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