Humans first vs earth first: some foundational concepts

Here I provide some general definitions of deep ecology, environmental justice, anthropocentrism and biocentrism.

This is also a third installment of ideas that I wanted to save after reading Ramachandra Guha’s book on environmental history (hence the page numbers).

Deep ecology: in an essay published in 1972 by Norwegian Arné Naess, he called for biospheric egalitarianism: putting g humans on more or less equal footing with other species. In contrast to shallow ecology that was concerned with pollution or resource depletion, deep ecology looks at the roots of the ecological crisis. (Yvon Chouinard, founder and presidnet of Patagonia clothing company talks about relating to deep ecology.)

Deep ecology influenced Earth First! one of the first groups to put their bodies in front of bulldozers to stop logging. But critics say this ideology neglects urban problems and non-wild nature (or anything ‘unnatural’). According to Guha, the environmental justice movement is another radical movement that may be more authentic. (p.86-7)

Environmental justice movement: “Where the nerve-centers of Deep Ecology are in the wild, environmental justice is firmly rooted in human habitations. The threats it fears are toxic waste dumps and landfills, the excretions  affluence that have to be disposed of somehow, and somewhere.” (p.87)

Anthropocentrism: the belief that humans stand apart and above the rest of creation

Biocentrism: rejects the human-centered perspective and looks at history from the perspective of other species and nature as a whole. (See also the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.)