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Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered Paperback – March 30, 2007
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"Deep Ecology is subversive, but it's the kind of subversion we can use." --San Francisco Chronicle
"This book is an attempt at codifying a scattered body of ecological insight into a philosophy that places human beings on an absolutely equal footing with all other creatures on the planet." --Stephanie Mills, Whole Earth Review
"Difficult and (to some) unfamiliar insights on nature and human beings presented with simplicity and clarity, Deep Ecology rattles a cage full of occidental presumptions and yet it all seems almost like common sense." --Gary Snyder
Bill Devall has studied the social organization, politics, psychology and philosophy of the environmental movement for fifteen years. He teaches at Humbolt State University in California and is active in many environmental groups including Earth First! and the Sierra Club.
George Sessions teaches philosophy at Sierra College California. He was appointed to the Mountaineering Committee of the the Sierra Club in 1962, has served as a philosophy consultant to the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is editor of the International Ecophilosophy Newsletter.
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If this sounds like crackpot, pastoral utopianism, it is. Not a shadow of practicality or realism ever darkens their sunshiny dream of a re-greened Earth sprinkled with a few happy "mixed communities of humans, rivers, deer, wolves, insects and trees" (p. 205). It's Thoreau on acid. Charming in its way, but badly dated and wholly impractical.
Cotton explains the Take Over method of increasing the earth's carrying capacity for humans, the method of using technological advances (fire, stone tools, etc.) to gradually expand their population and territories, though this has been at the expense of other species. The Take Over method, however, is generally sustainable.
This is contrasted with the Draw Down method in which humans draw down finite supplies of natural resources at a rate which is faster than the resources can be replenished. Thus, expanding earth's carrying capicity for humans using draw down is not sustainable, and is seem by the author as stealing from future generations. Furthermore, continued use of draw down to expand human population will lead to a population crash. Catton is not Malthus nor Erlich , and has a much more sophisticated understanding of carrying capacity as it applies to human cultural and population growth. His 2009 book, Bottleneck, expands on Overshoot buy describing various techniques used by humans to sustainably increased population, as well as, describing clever, but unwise methods by which humans attempt to avoid limits of carrying capacity and continue their unsustainable economic and population growth.
You have to read his stuff because it's not easy to explain in a book review. I read a lot of environmental books about the history of different scientific disciplines and the new scientific findings in science. My main concern is climate science. I am continually trying to gain an accurate understanding of how the earth many systems function and how humans function within the host Earth. Catton's work influenced me more than any other single author.