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What is deep ecology and eco-socialism?

This article discusses deep ecology and eco-socialism.
© Adam Smith Center, Singapore

In this article, we discuss the definition of two modes of thought towards climate change: (1) deep ecology; and (2) eco-socialism.

A parent marching with a Parents for Future flag Image credit: Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

1. Deep ecology

To understand deep ecology, we must also understand what shallow ecology is. The shallow ecology movement is guided by anthropocentric values. It mainly concerns itself with reducing pollution and the exploitation of resources in industrialized countries. This means that the shallow movement does not go deep to tackle the ultimate values and conceptions of society. Hence, we see that shallow ecology is still attempting to work within existing ethical frameworks. Thus, supporters of deep ecology would argue that the primary aim of shallow ecology is the continued affluence of people in developed countries. Here, environmental actions are still driven by a human-centric focus.

Contrastingly, deep ecology completely rejects anthropocentrism. They demand an overhaul of current worldviews and philosophical perspectives. Supporters of deep ecology advocate existing ethical frameworks be replaced with a new eco-philosophy. This “ecosophy” then transcends the destruction and exploitation that emerges from modern industrialization. This is because supporters of deep ecology argue that all human and non-human life has intrinsic value. This means that the value of a living thing is not dependent on its usefulness to others.

Significantly, a key feature of deep ecology is that it believes all human beings are interconnected with other living things in the world. Hence, a human being should not be viewed as having an individual, separate essence. Rather, it is important to perceive that we are all connected in an ecological web, and that our identity is shaped by our relation to other living things. Supporters of deep ecology argue that such a view would result in individuals that take good care of nature and the world that they live in.

2. Eco-socialism

According to eco-socialism, the best way to halt climate change is to relinquish capitalism. As seen in its name, the idea of eco-socialism is an amalgamation of both “ecology” and “socialism”. What this means is that eco-socialists believe that the ideal world order is one without class divisions that lives in balance with nature. Hence, the driving argument behind eco-socialism is that because capitalism is preoccupied with consumption and production, this makes it incompatible with environmental protection and climate change mitigation.

Examples of notable peoples and groups that have embraced eco-socialism are the US Green Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Green Party of the UK.

© Adam Smith Center, Singapore
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