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The concept of shallow ecology as an approach to environmental ethics.




Arne Naess formulated the shallow ecology concept as a juxtaposition to the deep ecology which is focusing on the environment. Naess approaches shallow ecology, focusing on man, in a critical way regarding to the technological solutions given in environmental problems. More specifically, according to the Encyclopedia of global problems and human potential, shallow ecology, is not ignoring the importance of the ecosystem protection in order to face the environmental crisis. On the same time, Arne Naess bases his thought on the technological solutions for the environmental protection, affected by the actual industrial society. As a result, shaping environmental ethics is ruled by an anthropocentric management of environmental resources, while the human aspect is placed in a superior position compared to the environmental one. In other words, the management of environmental goods is ruled by the actual economic and industrial ideology. As a consequence, facing the ecological problem is not requiring profound changes regarding to its structure. Therefore, using cost-benefit analysis provides with the best solution, without ignoring the importance of sustainable management while using the natural resources in terms of the actual economic system according to the shallow ecology.


According to this approach which is giving 'instrumental value' to the nature, human health of the inhabitants of developed countries is judged fundamental and for this reason pollution is faced by low emission technological installations (Arne Naess 1973). Without ignoring the fact that environment is being put in secondary place compared to the human one, the benefit for the future generations is morally central, putting aside racial discrimination issues.


As far as the methodological aspect of shallow ecology or otherwise called shallow environmentalism is concerned, the environmental issue is not faced in consideration to other aspects such as cultural, political, or psychological, but only by facing directly its immediate results, such as the damage of ozone layer or the acid rain, always based on the background of the actual economic system (Stibbe, Arran 2004). If we take the case of acid rain in 1852 in England, it was related to the unusual high level of sulphur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and to the emissions of nitrogen dioxide from car exhaust gases.


In one hand, in order to develop the example mentioned above, the aspect of emissions was examined in order to approach its causes. On the other hand, aspects as hyper-consumerism were not included in the study in order to exclude the cultural dimension of this phenomenon. Moreover, studying the aspect of emissions lets concentrating on the problem itself and not on the human aspect behind it, as it was done in the case of drivers of polluting cars (Stibbe, Arran 2004).


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