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From the eighties onward, it became common to refer to different “shades” of environmentalism: someone who was obviously green in their opinions might be further categorised as dark green or deep green, implying they had a radical or fundamentalist approach to the need to preserve the environment. This radical end of the green movement has been given the name ecologism within the movement itself, though the word is still infrequent in general usage. Many greens distinguish between ecologism and environmentalism. The former is a fundamentalist philosophy of deep greenness — some would argue a political ideology, though not aligned anywhere along the traditional right versus left, capitalism versus socialism axis — with a strong spiritual component that seeks to preserve the environment in absolute terms without concern for the place of human beings within it and in particular without making allowance for the potential needs of future generations. To those holding such views, environmentalism is no more than a form of engineering which treats the environment as a resource to be manipulated or consumed while seeking to minimise pollution and other adverse effects; those espousing that approach are sometimes pejoratively described as shallow greens.

Page created 28 Jun. 1997

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 28 June 1997.