Deep Ecology can save the planet – and grow your soul.

I am revising the premise of Thots and Shots to the notion that cultural change brought about by adherence to the philosophy of Deep Ecology can save the planet-and expand our souls. I changed the tagline for the website to “Deep Ecology and the American West.” I even made a logo.

Deep Ecology website title and logo

New Thots and Shots logo

I made the change because the ecological philosophy behind Deep Ecology matches my own. The founding thesis of Torrey House Press in 2010 was that most conservation work would be ultimately futile without public support. But how to gain that support? Our premise on cultural change is that the best and perhaps only way to change minds is through story. We thought conservation of the natural world was important enough to dedicate our careers and finances to creating a publishing company. The principles of Deep Ecology, that Nature has intrinsic value beyond its possible service to humankind, are ideals strong and powerful enough to get behind, to embrace. They can be the source of meaning and significance in a life. They can be a place of engagement both physically and spiritually. Through principle, ethic, and story we hoped to bring about improvement, progress and, perhaps, even some enlightenment.

Gus Speth, the co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and who served as Chairman of Jimmy Carter’s Council on Environmental Quality came to the same conclusion when 30 years later he said, I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that. -Gus Speth

Aldo Leopold was expressing founding principals of Deep Ecology in his land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. –Aldo Leopold

Max Oelschlaeger, in the final chapter, “Cosmos and Wilderness,” of his book The Idea of Wilderness, expresses hope for a new paradigm. Oelschlaeger, like me, finds the religious myths of creation unlikely and at the same time is alienated by science’s purely mechanistic and material point of view that, until the advent of quantum physics, left out the role of mind and observer. He thinks there is a place for a new creation story: “And that if the new creation story is to ring true in a postmodern age, then it must have both scientific plausibility and religious distinctiveness.”

And that if the new creation story is to ring true in a postmodern age, then it must have both scientific plausibility and religious distinctiveness. –Max Oelschlaeger

The philosophy of Deep Ecology provides a platform for such a paradigm. I hope to expand upon this idea in ensuing posts.

1 thought on “Deep Ecology can save the planet – and grow your soul.

  1. Pingback: Deep Ecology can save the planet – and grow your soul. | Thots and Shots

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