'Deep Ecology' (and the power of ethnobotanical plants)

I have worked for worldwide rainforests since 1979. Although many of our efforts succeeded, for every forest saved, 100 have disappeared. Clearly, you can’t save the planet one forest at a time: one green Earth or a bowl of dust.  Without a profound change of consciousness, we can kiss the forests goodbye, the ones we’ve "saved" alongside the rest.

Deep ecology is a key to the change we need. To deep ecology, underlying all the symptoms of the environmental crisis lies a psychological or spiritual root – the illusion of separation from the rest of the natural world, which stems from anthropocentrism or human-centeredness.

Conditioned since the Old Testament to “subdue and dominate” nature, the modern psyche is radically alienated from the air, water, and soil that underpin life, and this is reflected in the rapid shredding of all natural systems in the name of economic development. Deep ecology reminds us that the world is not a pyramid with humans on top but a web. We, humans, are but one strand in that web, and as we destroy this web, we destroy the foundations for all complex life, including our own.

While we maintain a self-image created in the matrix of anthropocentric culture, a shrunken and illusory sense of self that doesn't include the air and water and soil, we will experience nature as "outside" our self and fail to recognise that the nature "out there" and the nature "in here" are one and the same.

In this presentation, I’ll be talking about activism, deep ecology, and how ethnobotanical plants have intersected with and informed both.


John Seed is the founder of the Rainforest Information Centre. Since 1979 he has been involved in the direct actions which have resulted in the protection of the Australian rainforests.

He has written and lectured extensively on deep ecology and has been conducting Councils of All Beings around the world for 35 years. Along with Joanna Macy, Arne Naess, and Pat Fleming he co-authored, "Thinking Like a Mountain - Towards a Council of All Beings" which has now been translated into 10 languages.

In 1995 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) by the Australian Government for services to conservation and the environment.

He continues to work on rainforest conservation worldwide and offers deep ecology workshops to heal the illusion of separation between humans and Earth.

For several years he has been offering workshops, presentations, poetry, and rap at many festivals including Subsonic, ReGrowth, Rainbow Serpent, Southern Oracle, Island Elements, Woodford, and Peats Ridge.

Email: johnseed1@ozemail.com.au , Website: https://www.rainforestinformationcentre.org/

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