From the Rainforest Information Centre:Global activists, Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Matthew Fox, Ruth Rosenhek and John Seed speak on Deep Ecology, Living Democracy and Revolution in Consciousness in a fast moving discussion of the type of change that needs to take place for a Sustainable Future. An inspirational and stimulating film including beautiful nature footage and a colourful array of global action shots. (Many of the Rainforest Info. Centre’s films stream fromhttps://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/video/ .)

 


About this Book List: Editor’s introduction

As we become more aware of the connectedness of all life, we are slowly coming to grasp the catastrophic impact of industrialization on lands, oceans, plants, animals and people. In my view, cherishing and defending the integrity of the web of life becomes as pressing a need as changing the global economic system that causes a billion people to go to sleep hungry each night. Images of sea birds dying in the plume of oil leaking from offshore wells give a new meaning to the words of Jesus, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

Over time people all over the planet are becoming more aware of how deeply intertwined the two issues are: caring for people and caring for the Earth.  Because wrecked land feeds no one, and overfished and poisoned seas yield no life-nurturing food.  Many great writers have addressed these issues, and this page will strive to list the best books.  Please participate in the development of this page by sending your suggestions via our contact page.

The Internet allows us to greatly extend the concept of an annotated bibliography, keeping the top level book entries relatively short, while the annotation material for the various books may include hundreds or even thousands of pages, and in some cases all or large parts of the books themselves. Whenever the text of an inspiring ecology book is available on Google Books, I will include links to the text.

Many thanks to Molly Young Brown and Jim Brown for the initial research that got this book list started.


Ecotheology


Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth.  San Francisco:1988. In this classic of “ecotheology,” Father Berry’s essays show us a universe dynamically alive: a whole system, fluid and interconnected, an enchanted world that was part of the natural mind for most of human history.


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Boff, Leonardo. Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor.  “Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor” represents Leonardo Boff’s most systematic effort to date to link the spirit of liberation theology with the urgent challenge of ecology. Focusing on the threatened Amazon of his native Brazil, Boff traces the ties that bind the fate of the rain forests with the fate of the indigenous peoples and the poor of the land. In this book, readers will find the keys to a new, liberating faith.


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Hayden, Tom.  The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit and Politics. Ig Publishing: 2006.  More timely and necessary than ever in the wake of recent calamities like Hurricane Katrina and the Republican war against the environment, The Lost Gospel of the Earth is legendary activist Tom Hayden’s eco-spiritual call for revamping traditional religious doctrine to reflect a greater environmental consciousness, which he believes is the only way to save the planet from catastrophe.


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Ruether, Rosemary Radford.   Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing. Internationally acclaimed author and teacher presents a sweeping ecofeminist theology that illuminates a path toward “earth-healing,” a whole relationship between men and women, communities and nations. “This is theology that really matters.” Harvey Cox


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Sojourners Magazine.  Christians and the Environment.  Washington: 2007. A study guide for small groups. This series is designed to spark discussion and thought about how to live out God’s call for justice in our world. This guide includes four sessions, each with Sojourners articles, questions for discussion, and ideas for further study.


Deep Ecology



Drengson, Alan, and Yuichi Inoue, eds.  The Deep Ecology Movement. Berkeley CA: 1995.  Deep ecology, a term coined by noted Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, is a worldwide grassroots environmental movement that seeks to redress the shallow and piecemeal approach of technology-based ecology. Its followers share a profound respect for the earth’s interrelated natural systems and a sense of urgency about the need to make profound cultural and social changes in order to restore and sustain the long-term health of the planet. This comprehensive introduction to the Deep Ecology movement brings together Naess’ groundbreaking work with essays by environmental thinkers and activists responding to and expanding on its philosophical and practical aspects.




Fox, Warwick. Toward a Transpersonal Ecology: Developing New Foundations for Environmentalism. Albany NY: 1995. The common ground between deep ecology and transpersonal psychology is explored here with great clarity.

“This is the best book on deep ecology that I’ve come across in years. Anyone interested in the relationship of human beings to the environment ought to read this book.” — Paul R. Ehrlich, co-author of The Population Explosion

“Toward a Transpersonal Ecology is essential reading for teachers, scholars, and all people concerned with the fate of the earth. It is an excellent book that will be used as a benchmark for all discussions of environmental philosophy in the 1990s.” — Bill Devall, co-author of Deep Ecology

“Ecology and spirituality are fundamentally connected, because deep ecological awareness, ultimately, is spiritual awareness. The common ground between deep ecology and transpersonal psychology arising from this connection is explored in scholarly fashion and with great clarity in this important book. Warwick Fox offers us not only some very original and provocative ideas, but also an almost encyclopedic overview of the entire field. Toward a Transpersonal Ecology is essential reading for everyone seriously interested in the philosophical foundations of the emerging new paradigm.” — Fritjof Capra, author of the The Tao of Physics, and founder of The Elmwood Institute


LaChapelle, Dolores. Sacred Land, Sacred Sex-Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life. Durango CO: 1988.  LaChapelle draws on scholarly work in philosophy, anthropology, psychology, ecology, and history in her portrayal of humans as technological creatures within the household of nature.


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Macy, Joanna, and Molly Young Brown.  Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World. Gabriolia Island BC: 2014. An inspiring and practical guide to the “work that reconnects” as developed by Buddhist scholar, ecofeminist, and deep ecologist Joanna Macy and her colleagues.

Deepening global crises surround us. We are beset by climate change, fracking, tar sands extraction, GMOs, and mass extinctions of species, to say nothing of nuclear weapons proliferation and Fukushima, the worst nuclear disaster in history. Many of us fall prey to despair even as we feel called to respond to these threats to life on our planet.

Authors Joanna Macy and Molly Brown address the anguish experienced by those who would confront the harsh realities of our time. In this fully updated edition of Coming Back to Life , they show how grief, anger, and fear are healthy responses to threats to life, and when honored can free us from paralysis or panic, through the revolutionary practice of the Work that Reconnects. New chapters address working within the corporate world, and engaging communities of color as well as youth in the Work.



Macy, Joanna. World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal. Berkeley CA: 1991.  This overview of Joanna Macy’s innovative work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddha’s teachings on interdependent co-arising. A blueprint for social change, World as Lover, World as Self shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world, with concrete suggestions on how to address “An Inconvenient Truth”.

The essays are based on the Buddha’s teachings of “Paticca samuppada” (interdependent co-arising). Reduced to deceptively simple terms this says that everything in the world- every object, feeling, emotion, and action is influenced by a huge, all-inclusive web of factors. Any change in the condition of any one thing in this web affects everything else by virtue of interconnectedness. It makes World as Lover World as Self a quintessential guide for those readers who want to integrate their Buddhist practice with concerns for social issues like global warming. It also breaches the dualities that have haunted much of both Eastern and Western thought, namely the dichotomies between mind/body, humanity/nature, reason/emotion, self/world, science/spirituality.



McLaughlin, Andrew. Regarding Nature: Industrialism & Deep Ecology  Albany NY: 1993. Holding industrialism as a primary reason for our current ecological misfortune, the author seeks new options to help both humans and the rest of nature flourish, through fundamental change in our understandings of both nature and humanity.

“This book draws together insights in environmental philosophy and progressive political thought and discusses, in an accessible manner, a number of central issues and problems confronting the modern environmental movement. This will be of considerable appeal to liberal and left-leaning social progressives who have tended to dismiss much of modern environmental philosophy for being either ahistorical or not sufficiently attuned to cultural and social variability in the way in which we ‘regard nature.’ The author helps to explain and demystify deep ecology for a general readership by drawing out the areas of continuity and discontinuity between deep ecology and progressive political thought in an effort to build theoretical and practical bridges that will facilitate social change. In short, the author is weaving the galaxy of issues, agendas, and ideologies of modern environmentalism into a strong personal statement and an accessible story for a general readership.” ― Robyn Eckersley, Politics Department, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
 


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Oelschlaeger, Max, ed.  The Wilderness Condition: Essays on Environment and Civilization. Washington DC: 1992. This book aims to introduce to a larger audience issues that are too often limited to scholarly circles. A thought-provoking collection of essays by some of the environmental movement’s preeminent thinkers, The Wilderness Condition explores the dynamic tension between wild nature and civilization, offering insights into why the relationship has become adversarial and suggesting creative means for reconciliation. Contributors include Paul Shepard, Curt Meine, Max Oelschlaeger, and George Sessions.


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Seed, John, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming, and Arne Naess.  Thinking Like A Mountain: Toward a Council of All Beings. New Catalyst Books, 2007. This book of readings, meditations, rituals and workshop notes prepared on three continents helps us remember that environmental defense is nothing less than “Self” defense. Including magnificent illustrations of Australia’s rainforests, Thinking Like a Mountain provides a context for ritual identification with the natural environment, inviting us to begin a process of “community therapy” in defense of Mother Earth. It helps us experience our place in the web of life, rather than on the apex of some human-centred pyramid. An important deep ecology educational tool for activist, school and religious groups, Thinking Like a Mountain can also be used for personal reflection.
 


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Sessions, George, ed.  Deep Ecology for the 21st Century: Readings on the Philosophy & Practice of the New Environmentalism.  Boston: 1995.  Every day, in newspapers and on television, we read and hear about the ongoing destruction of the environment: the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, and air and water pollution. Deep Ecology offers a solution to the environmental crisis through a radical shift in human consciousness—a fundamental change in the way people relate with the environment. Instead of thinking of nature as a resource to be used for human needs, Deep Ecology argues that the true value of nature is intrinsic and independent of its utility. Emerging in the 1980s as an influential philosophical, social, and political movement, Deep Ecology has shaped the environmental debate among leading activists and policymakers—from former Vice-President Al Gore to Dave Forman, cofounder of Earth First! 

Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century contains thirty-nine articles by the leading writers and thinkers in the filed, offering a comprehensive array of perspectives on this new approach to environmentalism, exploring: 

   •  The basic philosophy of Deep Ecology. 
   •  Its roots in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. 
   •  The relationship of Deep Ecology to social ecology, ecofeminism, the Greens, and New Age futurism. 
   •  How Deep Ecology as a way of life is exemplified by two important environmentalists: poet Gary Snyder and Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess. 
   •  The philosophical dimensions of this environmental movement by its leading theorist. 
   •  The politics of ecological sustainability and the social and political implications of Deep Ecology for the next century.


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Devall, Bill, and George Sessions.  Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered.  Gibbs Smith Publishers, 2001. Deep Ecology explores the philosophical, psychological, and sociological roots of today’s environmental movement, examines the human-centered assumptions behind most approaches to nature, explores the possibilities of an expanded human consciousness, and offers specific direct action suggestions for individuals to practice. Widely read in it first printing, Deep Ecology has established itself as one of the most significant books on environmental thought to appear in this decade.

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 Humboldt 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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Systems Thinking


Capra, Fritjof.   The Web of Life. NY:1997. During the past twenty-five years, scientists have challenged conventional views of evolution and the organization of living systems and have developed new theories with revolutionary philosophical and social implications. Fritjof Capra has been at the forefront of this revolution. In The Web of Life, Capra offers a brilliant synthesis of such recent scientific breakthroughs as the theory of complexity, Gaia theory, chaos theory, and other explanations of the properties of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems. Capra’s surprising findings stand in stark contrast to accepted paradigms of mechanism and Darwinism and provide an extraordinary new foundation for ecological policies that will allow us to build and sustain communities without diminishing the opportunities for future generations.


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Laszlo, Ervin.  The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time. Cresskill NJ: 1996. There is more to science than observation, experiment and mathematical formulas: There is also an implicit and vitally important view of the world. This book is the fruit of over three decades of research by Ervin Laszlo, foremost systems scientist and integrative thinkier; it is a clear and comprehensive statement of what the new sciences tell us about living nature, the universe, and ourselves.

Understanding the meaning behind the complex formulas of scientists is more important today than ever before: The holistic and integrative revolution at the end of the century is as rapid and profound as the Einsteinian and quantum revolution was at its beginning. Physicists, cosmologists, biologists, ecologists, and cognitive scientists, together with chaos theorists and cyberneticians, are discovering consistency in nature; the basic and universal laws of evolution and self-organization. Their students project a view of the world that is not mechanistic and atomistic: It is organic and holistic–a view of dynamic wholes, self-creative systems. Grasping the contours of this view is to come to understand the world as it is now discovered by leading-edge scientists. This book is part of the essential literacy of our age.


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Macy, Joanna. Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Living Systems. Albany NY: 1991.  This book brings important new dimensions to the interface between contemporary Western science and ancient Eastern wisdom. Here for the first time the concepts and insights of general systems theory are presented in tandem with those of the Buddha. Remarkable convergences appear between core Buddhist teachings and the systems view of reality, arising in our century from biology and extending into the social and cognitive sciences. Giving a cogent introduction to both bodies of thought, and a fresh interpretation of the Buddha’s core teaching of dependent co-arising, this book shows how their common perspective on causality can inform our lives. The interdependence of all beings provides the context for clarifying both the role of meditative practice and guidelines for effective action on behalf of the common good.


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Sahtouris, Elisabet, and James E. Lovelock.  Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution. 2000. Elisabet Sahtouris draws together some of the best thinking about Earth as a living organism and offers a broad understanding of humanity’s place in the web of life.

From the author:

This book is a work of philosophy in the original sense of a search for wisdom, for practical guidance in human affairs through understanding the natural order of the cosmos to which we belong. It bears little resemblance to what we have come to call philosophy since that effort was separated from natural science and became more an intellectual exercise in understanding than a practical guide for living. 
  
To find meaning and guidance in nature, I integrated my personal experience of it with those scientific accounts that seemed to best fit it. From this synthesis, meaning and lessons for humanity emerged freely. I wrote the original version in the peaceful, natural setting of a tiny old village on a small pine-forested Greek island, where I could consider the research and debates of scientists, historians, and philosophers, then test them against the natural world I was trying to understand.

Putting into simple words the specialized technical language of scientists and winding my way through labyrinths of philosophic prose, I gradually simplified the story of the origins and nature of our planet within the larger cosmos, and of our human origins, nature, and history within the larger being of this planet.

The Gaia hypothesis, now Gaia theory, of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis — the theory that our planet and its creatures constitute a single self-regulating system that is in fact a great living being — is the conception of physical reality in which my philosophy is rooted. Quite simply, it makes more sense on all levels — intuitive, experiential, scientific, philosophical, spiritual and even aesthetic and ethical — than any other conception I know. And I have come to believe, in the course of this work, that this conception contains profound and pressing implications for all humanity.


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von Bertalanffy, Ludwig. General System Theory. NY:2015.  The classic book on a major modern theory.  Bertalanffy’s selected writings on his theory of laws applicable to virtually every scientific field. This conceptual approach has had a profound impact on biology, economics, psychology, and demography, with new relevancies today. The new foreword by University of Vienna system theory professor, Wolfgang Hofkirchner, and Centre for Systems Philosophy director, David Rousseau, discusses the theory’s contemporary applications.


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Ecophilosophy, Ecopsychology, and Related Disciplines


Abrams, David. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. NY: 1996. Abram demonstrates that our most cherished human attributes–from the gift of language, to the awareness of past and future, to the rational intellect itself–emerge in interaction with, and wholly dependent on, the natural world.


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Adams, Cass, ed. The Soul Unearthed: Celebrating Wildness and Personal Renewal Through Nature. Los Angeles, 1996.  A rich anthology bringing together more than fifty of the planet’s most eloquent advocates teaching how to be refreshed and transformed by what is wild in the Earth – and in humans.


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Roszak, Theodore, Mary Gomes and Allen Kanner, eds.  Ecopsychology. San Francisco, 1995.  In a comprehensive collection of essays, 24 ecopsychologists explore the psychological basis of our ecological crisis, and the “ecological” basis of common psychological ills, suggesting most of them originate in our alienation from nature.


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Roszak, Theodore. The Voice of the Earth. NY: 1993.  A pioneering book that seeks to bridge the centuries-old split between the psychological and the ecological, exploring an “ecopsychology” that sees the needs of the planet and the person as a continuum.


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Shepard, Paul.  Nature and Madness. Atlanta GA: 1982.  A true Elder of ecophilosophy, Paul Shepard draws on a stunning array of disciplines, from biology and psychology to history and theology to develop a unified theory of the human condition.


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Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild. NY: 1990. From one of the most important teachers/writers of the modern era, this book eloquently brings the wisdom of the wild to teach and to guide and to help us re-inhabit Earth.


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Zimmerman, Michael, ed.  Environmental Philosophy.  A superb collection of essays in five areas of eco-philosophy: environmental ethics, deep ecology, ecofeminism, social ecology, and animal liberation/rights.


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