Shifting Paradigms: From Technocrat to Planetary Person

Drengson, Alan
Revised paper, which was first published in Environmental Ethics 3 (1980) 221-240. It was revised and reprinted in The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology (1995), edited by Alan Drengson and Yuichi Inoue. North Atlantic Press, Berkeley California, pages 74-100.

In this essay I examine the interconnections between two paradigms of technology, nature, and social life, and their associated environmental impacts. I will discuss how we are moving from the technocratic paradigms to the emerging ecological paradigms of the planetary person. The dominant technocratic philosophy which now guides policy and technological power is mechanistic. It conceptualizes nature as a resource to be controlled fully for human ends and it threatens to drastically alter the integrity of the planet’s ecosystems. In contrast, the organic, planetary person paradigm conceptualizes intrinsic value in all beings. Deep ecology movement principles give priority to community and ecosystem integrity and help to guide the design and applications of technology according to principles which follow from ecological understanding. I will describe this shift in paradigms and how it affects our perceptions, values, and actions.

Humanity’s future imperiled by cultural lags

Catton, William R. Jr.
Unpublished manuscript. Translation into German published in Natur und Kultur Vol. 1/2 (2000), pages 3-25

Human societies exploiting Earth’s ecosystems beyond carrying capacity make ideas about human dominion obsolete. Formerly successful policies become disastrous. Reliance on nonrenewable resources plus widespread overfishing, overgrazing and deforestation disrupts ecosystems. With six billion humans using Earth three ways (as supply depot, activity space, and disposal site) mutual interference between these uses escalates. Technological advances, once progressive, now enlarge per capita resource appetites and impacts, reducing the number of humans the planet can continue supporting. Sustainability requires enormous efficiencies, a period of “negative population growth,” and equitable exchange relationships between differently endowed regions or nations.