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Have you seen the new Avatar: The Way of Water movie? The movie not only managed to mesmerise us with its breathtaking visuals but also with how the Na’vi tribe harmonised with nature. Turns out, the Na’vi way of life is not so…alien. There is a perspective on how we see nature the way the Na’vi tribe sees it–it’s called deep ecology. We will take you to look deeper into this viewpoint!
Deep ecology is an environmental philosophy which believes that all living beings are worth the same value and are interconnected to each other. This philosophy emerged in the 1970s and challenged the anthropocentric point of view, which believes that humans are the most important being and at the centre of the universe. Deep ecology emphasises that humans are part of nature and values the entire natural world regardless of their utility in fulfilling human needs. It is similar to ecocentrism, but ecocentrism only focuses on environmentalism, whilst deep ecology encompasses broader aspects, including social and spiritual. Some deep ecologists use spiritual practices such as meditation to deepen their connections with nature and gain ecological insights. However, deep ecology is not necessarily a religious or radical movement; instead, it offers a more holistic approach to understanding nature and seeing a part of ourselves rather than something external to us.
Deep ecology is about asking deeper questions–why and how–about our conventional way of thinking, and our current practices and values.
There are many debates and criticisms against deep ecology thinking, notably the allegation of misanthropy. Some critics said that deep ecology trivialises humanity as utilisation of natural resources is only allowed to meet human vital needs. But, the term ‘vital needs’ itself still differs in meaning and scope. Human vital needs are not limited to something for survival, but also promoting well-being which is a complex interrelation between physical, emotional, mental, and social factors.
Presently, modern societies have an anthropocentric worldview, which is clearly reflected in many ways. For example, our current economic systems only value resources that are useful and preferred by human beings without regard to the impact we have on people and the environment. This has led to environmental degradation on a global scale, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. Furthermore, these systems are causing social and economic inequality because wealth and power are concentrated amongst those who control the resources. They take only what is valuable without considering the impacts and discard anything else that has or no longer has value to them. Much like how it was shown in the Avatar movie, no?
Spoiler alert! Just like the ‘whale’-hunting scene. They killed those highly emotional and social beings for what? A small tube of brain liquid?
If you feel even the slightest grief when watching those scenes in the Avatar movie, then you know there is something wrong. And those scenes are reflections of what is happening now in our society–in our real world. This is not one person’s fault, we are all part of the current systems, so each of us has to change. It is important to incorporate deep ecology standpoint into our lives. As previously mentioned, deep ecology encompasses broad aspects of life and makes us think not only about environmental health but also achieving social and economic equality and preserving both local communities and the ecosystems that support them. That sounds like a tall order, huh? Not to worry. You don’t need to become an environmental activist, a scientist, or a government official to start implementing deep ecology in your life. There are simpler things you can do.
People’s indifference to nature can be caused by their disconnection from it, especially those who reside in urban areas. Deep ecology is all about interconnectedness and harmony; hence, the first thing we should do is reconnect ourselves to mother nature. When is the last time you have been in the wilderness? Or have you ever even been in the wild at all? If you can’t remember, then it is a good time to try putting down your phone or laptop (after reading this article, of course), step outside of the comfort of your house, walk into nature, and feel it. Feel the texture of the grass, the breeze of the wind, and the surge of the waves. Set a moment to do and think of nothing else but the natural world and establish a bond, just like what the Na’vi do with Eywa.
We have a tendency to care more about things that are familiar or have a personal connection to us. That is why reconnecting to nature is the crucial first step in adopting a deep ecology mindset. The next step is where it gets a bit challenging; it is to change our behaviour to achieve sustainability. Nature has provided enough–even abundant–resources for us and future generations if we utilise them wisely and not be greedy. Think and reflect on your daily habits. Are you already demonstrating a sustainable lifestyle? There are numerous things you can do, including using reusable utensils, conserving energy and water, and taking advantage of public transportation. You don’t need to accomplish them all at once, just take one step at a time. Habits need to be developed gradually over time. It is amazing if you start by using a bamboo straw today! Next time, you can try bringing your own container for takeaways!
At Seven Clean Seas, we all love the ocean and we want to protect it. That is why we are taking actions against plastic threats by diligently doing beach clean-ups and stakeholder engagement to eliminate plastic from the environment and reduce plastic use whenever possible. We yearn for a clean ocean–without plastic–so whenever we go for a dive or snorkel, we can see vibrant coral reefs looming across the seafloor and joyful fishes swimming against the water. That is the connection we seek with nature. How about you?