More on deep ecology

Here I quote the most interesting points of an article written in 1989 by Ramachandra Guha called “Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique”

“decrying the narrowly economic goals of mainstream environmentalism, this new movement [‘new ecologists’ or ‘deep ecology’] proposes a militant defence of ‘Mother Earth’ and an unflinching opposition to human attacks on undisturbed wilderness. […]

deep ecology is uniquely American […] the social and cultural goals of radical environmentalism in other cultural contexts (e.g. West Germany and India) are quite different [… and] the social consequences of putting deep ecology into practice on a worldwide basis are very grave indeed. […]

the transition from an anthropocentric to a biocentric view in both religious and scientific traditions is only to be welcomed. What is unacceptable are the radical conclusions […] that intervention in nature should be guided primarily by the need to preserve biotic integrity rather than by the needs of humans. […] invoking the bogy of anthropocentrism is at best irrelevant and at worst a dangerous obfuscation.* […]

The wholesale transfer of a movement culturally rooted in American conservation history can only result in the social uprooting of human populations in other parts of the globe. […]

deep ecology is best viewed as a radical trend within the wilderness preservation movement. […] encouraging political militancy rather than negotiation […]

for the mainstream movement, the function of wilderness is to provide a temporary antidote to modern civilization […] the enjoyment of nature is an integral part of the consumer society [but] deep ecology runs parallel to the consumer society without seriously questioning its ecological and sociopolitical basis. […]

The expansionist character of modern Western man will have to give way to an ethic of renunciation and self-limitation, in which spiritual and communal values play an increasing role in sustaining social life. This revolution in cultural values [has] an understanding of environmental processes quite different from deep ecology. […]

If colonial and capitalist expansion has both accentuated social inequalities and signaled a precipitous fall in ecological wisdom, an alternate ecology must rest on an alternate society […] in the absence of social regeneration environmental regeneration has very little chance of succeeding […]

In 1958, the economist JK Galbraith referred to overconsumption as the unasked question of the American conservation movement. […] ‘If we are concerned about our great appetite for materials, it is plausible to seek to increase the supply, to decrease waste, to make better use of the stocks available, and to develop substitutes. But what of the appetite itself? Surely this is the ultimate source of the problem. If it continues its geometric course, will it not one day have to be restrained? Yet in the literature of the resource problem this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total silence.’ “

*Note that this was said in contrast in particular to the two main ecological problems facing the world according to Guha in 1989: overconsumption by the wealthy and growing militarization (regional wars and nuclear annihilation)