The idea of "deep" ecology came about because of Arne Naess, a Norwegian environmental philosopher. Naess separated "deep" ecology from "shallow" ecology, which focused principally on the interests of humans.
Many of the ideas of deep ecology are consistent with
ancient religious and cultural philosophies. Zen Buddhism, among other religions, taught that humans should respect nature. Gandhi also taught that human beings should respect non-human life and the environment.
Modern deep ecologists reject the idea that humans are nature's master. Instead, they urge others to view the environment as a complex system of many forms of life, none of which can dominate another.
Deep ecologists say that every species has intrinsic value, and its worth cannot merely be measured by its usefulness to humanity.
Opponents of deep ecology say that the deep ecologists place insufficient value on human life. By placing too much importance on the lives of animals, opponents say the deep ecologists failed to properly regard the lives of people.
However, deep ecologists say that humans must exist interdependently with other species. Because an attack on an
individual species is an attack on the whole, humanity must humbly recognize its lack of the right to dominate, and realize that the fate of other species is bound up with the fate of humanity.
The deep ecologists represent a more extreme group politically than do the shallow ecologists. Deep ecologist groups such as Earth First! challenge the view that public policy must only represent the interests of human beings, arguing that the effects on the whole environment must be taken into
Resources on deep ecologyWritings on deep ecology