Arne Næss an original environmentalist of modern times


“The more diversity the better” Arne Næss



Arne Næss was a part of forming the environmental groups in 1970’s, the most politically active decade of last century. This is the fourth post in series  searching for the original environmentalists from the beginning of time and up to the 1970’s. when modern environmentalism started for real.  In fact, many names comes to mind that can be regarded as  “great”, however depending on the criteria to determine “greatest”not only great would depend on a subjective view upon what is the most important action performed in short or long term perspective.

If the criteria is based on religion, culture and philosophical level to make people understand why and howto take care of earth, fields of academic or scientific research. Or  ordinary people doing non-ordinary actions, dare to challenge the unknown or care about consequences going against large corporations, powerful  authorities without fear or risk of spending time in prison for their civil obedience? I talk about using direct actions in the field of injustice and help people that are offer for hazardous  chemicals making  them sick and die, such as stopping chemicals to be dumped or nuclear testing then Greenpeace and Earth Day comes to mind as important.

  •  Earth day (global Earth Day April 22) for their grassroots movement and first Earth Day 1970.  The environmental movement attains strong influence, spreading concern about global degradation. Aerosols from human activity were increasing in the atmosphere. Earth Day did waking up the sleepy masses in the suburbs of America to get involved active with big events dragging masses of people.
  • Greenpeace (International site org) on the other hand is an environmental organization that uses creative confrontation, usually in the form of media spectacles, to draw attention to specific environmental problems. With their first boat Sea Shepard stopping US nuclear testing already in 1970.
  • One scientist not to forget James Lovelock came in 1979 with a remarkable book Gaia (Greek mythology english means: mother (earth) : A New Look at Life on Earth. His hypothesis was that the Earth itself was a live organism.  See more about Gaia hypothesis and his final experiment proving his theories Daisyworld in the new Eco Fashion Dictionary. His book was based upon work when Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration asked Lovelock to find out scientifically what makes life on a planet possible and instruments that could be used to find evidence for life as they planned to send a spacecraft Mars.
  • In economics and alternative technology  E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (Harper and Row, 1975) was an impressing book based on principles found in Buddhism when Schumacher worked  in Burma which advocated meaningful work, local agriculture, human-scale manufacturing, and renewable energy as solutions not only to work in a modernized world, however could be used without long studies and high tech skilled workers.
  •  Phd and founder of deep ecology movement Arne Næss.  Nevertheless, my choice is not known by the masses of people. However, his work is already extremely important and become mandatory for teaching in schools and universities about environmentalism, sustainability and Eco living. A. Næss fundamental thinking will become basic foundation because its making ecology deep. Deep because asking questions such as “why and how”. Ecosophy  based upon a long tradition of earth native people and eastern religion. One cannot in any fields of science or heroic action be without a fundamental philosophic view that includes religion, culture and science therefore The greatest environmentalist in modern time cannot escape Norwegian philosopher and founder of the deep ecology movement PhD Arne Næss


Phd. and founder of deep ecology movement A. Næss the greatest modern environmentalist

In 1970’s a large part of the established society looked upon the environmentalists as criminal and lazy radicals.  1970’s was maybe the most politically active decade in modern times and we shall be happy that radicals started an dirty job. If not it would have been too late. Who knows? What was the 70’s radical fashion style Finding the Eco warriors codex of favorite clothes; anorak, shoes, pants, tees, facial hair, music and art. But first dive into the scenes behind the main story and find the ancient environmentalists, Hindus, Buddhists, peace lovers and philosopher’s trough ancient and modern times. Part four of Original Environmentalists from the 70’s Original Environmentalist is a about a quite unknown hero for most people, Arne Næss the Norwegian philosopher, climber, boxer, environmentalist and warm-hearted man who in the beginning of the 70’s started talking about Deep Ecology.

Deep Ecology based upon a deep respect for all living beings, non violence and self-realization within a personal contact with nature. Deep ecology based upon the view of Gandhi but most of all Mahayana Buddhism, who Buddha shared his wisdom about 2500 year ago.

  • First of all, Not to kill, not to destroy Buddha (the greatest environmentalist series) gave his lectures on the most central question; not to kill any living including the grass, tress, the sea and  the mountains
  • One should not take out of nature more than what you need,  he said. The  balance he refer is in Buddhism named the middle way.
  • We have no right to claim ownership to land  This is the same thing all tribal people on our planet have lived after. Not as the objective today: taking out more than needed and keep as much as possible. Secondly nobody have the right to own the land. Arne Næss is a strong defender of these views and Arne Næss who came from a wealthy family said the first thing he learned was to live on as little as possible.
  • Technology alone will not save the planet
  • The diversity in the nature is one of the most important issues. As both modern Buddhism with Dalai Lama who warns people to blindly follow only technology Arne Næss says the exact same thing. During Gandhi (the greatest environmentalist series)visit to England when Gandhi saw development of the industrialization he said that if the industrial revolution came to India it would also kill India. Gandhi saw how sudden wealth was of no good to people or to the environment in London where dirty water in the channels became a large problem event then. Gandhi will prove right asn India today become the next China

Deep Ecology introduced by Næss 1973

In 1973, Norwegian philosopher and mountaineer Arne Næss introduced the phrase “deep ecology” to environmental literature. Environmentalism had emerged as a popular grassroots political movement in the 1960s with the radical involvement from the beginning of the 70’s with Global Earth Day, Green peace and other organizations An ecological movement starts from within and Arne Næss was a visionary who included people not excluded.We want to flourish and realize ourselves in harmony with other beings and cultures. Is it possible to develop common understandings that enable us to work with civility toward harmony with other creatures and beings? The Deep Ecology Platform principles are a step in this direction. Arne Næss said everybody has equal right to live in nature. He  lived also in nature as an element and did not try to fight the resistance in nature but follow the flow naturally. Arne Næss was claiming that humans had no better reason or right to be a part of nature than any other animal. Næss had a cabin in the mountain where he spent a lot of his time to wonder and ask questions. One must be curios and playful, he said. Most people today will say that his cabin was very primitive.  Arne Næss lead expedition on climbing fist accent Tirch Mir 7709 m. Pakistan already 1950, his second 1964, mission that few others do today.


Arne Næss lead accent Tirch Mir 7709 m Pakistan already 1950

Because capitalism  values is based on raw and uncompromised rules to keep at any-time the lowest cost possible and highest alternative ROI for shareholders mostly short time perspective makes corporation spend large amounts for R&D (research and development) around the globe. This technological progress gives therefore  an advantage companies use to keep effective production and making more products and services. Is it the right thing to invent new technologies just so a few get insanely rich – if they don’t intend to give it away becomes addicted to money and becomes sick of greed. Greed is far more bad than being addicted to any drug, because drug addicts seldom kill people, while greed takes life every second on the planet. For example 250.000 indians commit suicide yearly in India  because of  pesticides used to produce cotton and agricultural products more effectively for company owners placed elsewhere while electric media create false or unnecessary consumption because a paid flow of  information that aims to make us believe we need to buy so we get accepted and admired in our local communities. Very much information or information overload messages intend to make humans feel fear and insecure. Fear creates a constant hunger to get stuff in order to become to accepted. This endless hunger for acceptance does not stop unless we manage to free us from it. Take a digital time-out  free from the constant flow of meaningless information. This so called progress happens because we measure our own happiness in money. This will never have an ending.  It’s not taken for granted that the humans will survive the next 100 years unless we turn and review the values as our society is based upon today. Humans tend to believe that nature is here to serve humans, No it’s the opposite we are here to serve the nature, Næss said. Nature can wipe us all out in one single stroke and as ego driven the modern society are today, it will happen!  Graphis below: Population growth graphics can be found in the post “Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, spirituality” and and slideshow Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, the spirituality slides


LSD gave Arne deepness and inspiration while working at Berkley University California

Arne Næss did experiment with LSD in the 60’s as he was a professor in California, and said that LSD had been a source of  influence to his later work. Arne Næss tells us to realize out true self and to bring back contact with nature. As a true Norwegian Arne Næss was born in nature, lived in the nature and I think he rather slept outside instead of inside. Arne’s hut was far up in the mountains with little comfort at all. He was in close contact with nature. He was also the kind of person that was playful, curious and actually did a lot of crazy stuff to feel that he was a part of nature. When Arne Næss was a teacher in the 60’s he became  interested in the hippie culture and did experience with LSD as he said was a major reason to his future work. So indeed he was open to explore a new world. Do not take everything so serious, be playful I believe to think this was also a reaction and a critic to people growing up becoming grey people. Ecology’s core principle is the belief that, like humanity, the living environment as a whole has the same right to live and flourish.

Deepness of ecology ask why and how

Deep Ecology is deep because it’s whole and connected. Deep ecology describes itself as “deep” because it persists in asking deeper questions about “why” and “how” and thus  concerned with the fundamental philosophical questions about the impacts of human life as one part of the ecosphere. It’s not taking a narrow view of ecology as a branch of biological science, and aims to avoid merely anthropocentric environmentalism. Environmental karma This is exactly as Buddha said upon the question that everything was a result of cause and effect, nothing stands merely alone in the universe. The name is Karma. Arne Næss loved boxing because it was playful and real One can not talk about to keep the environment based just upon humans, that is to exclude humans as a part of the wheel. Humans have also equal right to live of the nature as well.  Deep ecology seeks a more holistic view of the world humans live in and seeks to apply to life the understanding that separate parts of the ecosystem (including humans) function as a whole’s and looses the child within who is so important to develop a curios and positive natural state.

Nature can no longer be viewed only as a commodity; it’s seen as a partner and model in all human enterprise. Deep ecology and followers talk about four problems that rooted on the following circumstances and I totally agree and share view

  1. Modern society suffer under the loss of traditional knowledge, values and ethics behavior who do not even know what we eat as animals  repacked, draped in boxes sp you have no feelings that you eat animals. There is a culture of owning the place you live and the land. All native people from Aboriginals to the North American Indians have always stated land can not owned
  2. We think that nature is here to serve us and not the other way around so instead of having an organically approach to nature and follow the stream we try to tame nature. We think us superior to nature and the strongest. But in fact nature is very fine tuned and there is not much before we get in unbalanced and looses control.
  3. I think we unfortunately have come to a point where it will be unrealistic and even impossible to reverse the negative impact on nature the western world we believe too much in technology and base too much of the solution in technology.
  4. We must seek balance and gain back the spiritual side as we now are in deep unbalance The over populated world both in the western world and the underdeveloped world are suffering as we place a large burden upon nature that are killing diversity of nature. Even we must take into knowledge that people living in the modern western society uses almost four times as much energy. Below Graphics; The richest nations consume 17 times as much petroleum per. person as people in under developed countries. Therefore, Næss ideas talks of an “return to nature” is increasingly solid today as when presented 50 years ago.


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