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Environmental Ethics

Volume 10, Issue 4, Winter 1988

Freya Mathews
Pages 347-355

Conservation and Self-Realization
A Deep Ecology Perspective

Nature in its wider cosmic sense is not at risk from human exploitation and predation. To see life on Earth as but a local manifestation of this wider, indestructable and inexhaustible nature is to shield ourselves from despair over the fate of our Earth. But to take this wide view also appears to make interventionist political action on behalf of nature-which is to say, conservation-superfluous. If we identify with nature in its widest sense, as deep ecology prescribes, then the “self-defence” argument usually advanced by deep ecologists in support of conservation appears not to work. I argue that the need for eco-activism can be reconciled with a rejection of despair within the framework of deep ecology, and that in the process of this reconciliation the meaning of the term conservation acquires a new, spiritual dimension.

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