Embracing Deep Ecology: a New Perspective on Environmentalism

July 17, 2023
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It should be recognized from the onset that the major environmental problems encountered by humanity are a direct product of political and economic discussions of the political elite and bourgeoisie. It is humankind's anthropocentric approach to the natural environment that today’s contemporary ecological societies are faced with a wide variety of ecological crises, including climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, deforestation, and pollution. Given these increasingly serious environmental issues and their role in both the destruction of nature and the suffering of human beings around the globe, it is not surprising that the field of radical eco-political thought has greatly expanded in the last forty years. It encompasses a wide variety of perspectives on how humans should relate to the environment, reach toward greater sustainability, and combat social problems while accounting for nature in politics. These radical theories often come into conflict with each other, with each theory defending its unique formulation of how humans and nature fundamentally relate and how political societies can incorporate nature into decision-making processes. Deep ecology, social ecology, ecofeminism, and socialist ecology are just a few examples of the broad spectrum of perspectives encapsulated under the name radical ecological thought.

The Relevance of Radical Eco-Political Thought

All these strains of radical eco-political thought will become increasingly relevant in the field of political theory in the coming years due to the growing vulnerabilities of both nature and humanity in the face of global ecological crises. One particularly relevant strain of radical eco-political thought is deep ecology, a theory that promotes radical cultural changes in the way that humans and nature relate to bring about better practices and policies toward nature on a global scale. Deep ecology is particularly relevant in the face of global environmental problems for a variety of reasons.

  • Incorporating Nature into Political Life

Deep Ecology goes further than any other radical eco-political theory in its conception of how nature should be incorporated into political life. It explicitly introduces the concept of intrinsic value into the process of political decision-making, arguing that all biological entities and ecosystems have an equal right to fulfill their vital needs and flourish regardless of their instrumental value to humanity.

  • Radical Cultural Change for Eco-Centric Societies

Deep ecology promotes radical cultural change as a pathway toward the establishment of eco-centric societies. It suggests that humans should pursue a wider identification with nature to set up ecologically sustainable communities. Both ethical principles are unique to deep ecology, playing a vital role in the overall consideration given to nature in ecologically sustainable societies.

The Importance of Deep Ecology in Radical Eco-Political Theory

Furthermore, the focus on deep ecology is both necessary and important for several reasons relating to its status as radical ecological thinking:

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  • Incorporating Other Life Forms into Political Life

Deep ecology's intentional prioritization on how societies can recognize intrinsic value and ensure the flourishing of other living beings and ecosystems beyond human beings serves a vital purpose. It incorporates other life forms into political life and accounts for their needs in decision-making processes, thus influencing the well-being of industry and general populations in relation to the natural environment.

  • Critique of Contemporary Society

By arguing in favor of cultural change away from the anthropocentric ethic, deep ecology creates a unique avenue for studying the forces contributing to and reinforcing this ethic, which often results in widespread environmental harm. It plays a vital role in its critique of contemporary society and the anthropocentric ethic, advocating for cultural change and eco-centrism.

  • Allowing for Diversity in Identifying with Nature

Deep ecology allows individuals to form identities around different aspects of nature, shaping who they are in relation to the natural environment. It opens up avenues for diverse conceptualizations of the human-nature relationship and how individuals choose to act based on their particular identification with nature, contributing to the formation of radical eco-political societies.

Addressing Gaps in Deep Ecology

The inclusion of deep ecology as the focus of discussion is important and necessary for the field of radical eco-political theory because it fills gaps and responds to a variety of issues examined in the theory. It addresses issues such as the anthropocentrism causing environmental degradation, the importance of deep ecology's holistic ontology in forming radical eco-political societies, and the need to include the Global South in discussions of deep ecology for a globally applicable theory.

Deep ecology explicitly incorporates the environment into the daily lives, thoughts, and political, socio-economic, and moral compasses of citizens, nation-states, governments, and communities alike. The distinctive incorporation of intrinsic value and the consideration of bio-centric egalitarianism in political decision-making give deep ecology a unique perspective, contributing to the human-nature relationship in radical eco-political thought.

Deep ecology advocates fundamental changes in the relationship between humans and nature and critiques the current state of this relationship, especially the anthropocentric bias present in global economic, political, and social relations. It argues that the formation of eco-centric societies is necessary for the flourishing of nature and human communities, while identifying anthropocentrism as the root cause of environmental harm.


Deep ecology plays a vital role in shaping ecological societies by offering unique perspectives and critiques of the human-nature relationship. By advocating for cultural change and eco-centrism, deep ecology provides a pathway towards more sustainable and harmonious interactions with the natural environment. As the world faces increasingly serious environmental challenges, the relevance of radical eco-political thought, with deep ecology at its forefront, becomes even more evident in envisioning a more sustainable future for humanity and the planet.


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  2. Naess, A. (1989). Ecology, Community, and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Zimmerman, M. E., & Callicott, J. B. (Eds.). (1996). Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology. Prentice Hall.
  4. Eckersley, R. (2004). The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty. The MIT Press.
  5. Guha, R., & Martinez-Alier, J. (Eds.). (1997). Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South. Earthscan Publications
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