Deep ecology is a way of looking at the world, a deep ‘ecological’ view, that sees the fundamental interdependence of all life. It sees that we humans are embedded in, and part of the natural world – a world we depend on for our existence.
Fritjof Capra describes the difference between ‘holistic’ and ‘ecological’. A holistic view of a bike is to see the bike as a functional whole and to see the interdependence of its parts. An ecological view sees all this, but also recognises that the bike is embedded in a natural and social environment. This means seeing where the raw materials that make the bike come from. Seeing how it was made. Noticing the effects that it has on the environment and the community in which it is used.
Deep ecology does not see humans, or anything else in the world, as separate from nature. Deep ecology says that the world is not made up of objects but networks, processes and relationships in which everything is connected. All life has value. Humans are just one part of the vast web of life.
Deep ecology is also ‘deep’ in another way. It is about asking deeper questions. It asks questions about our worldview and about our way of life.
Values are central to deep ecology. The old way of thinking about the world was based on human-centred values. Deep ecology promotes ‘ecocentric’ (earth-centred) values. It argues for the value of non-human life. All living beings are tied together by an ecological system that is interdependent. This awareness helps change our ethics and what we place value on.