Author Satish Kinuur points out: “Nature knows no scarcity because it knows no waste.” This view is not new; Old Testament classical texts such as Sefer Ha-Hinukh, #529 declares, “Nothing, even a grain of mustard, should be lost to the world.” Concern with the environment starts with Genesis 2:16, which state that God took the newly created human“and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate it and guard it.” The concept of stewardship probably evolved from this statement where people take responsibility for their actions and are inclined to conserve and care for the environment. This is contrary to the concept of the master of the earth where man has power over nature and likely to abuse and exploit it.
Norwegian philosopher Anne Naess has named this human-centered relationship with the natural environment “shallow ecology.” She believes that, ” humans have a special place in the universe, but so do flowers, fungi, oceans, mountains and microorganisms. All forms of life are deeply interconnected and nature has fundamental value.” This notion is known as “deep ecology,” which fosters a strong sense of respect for the earth and all beings on it. If we see our existence from this view then it is possible to see that, “We can have satisfaction from close partnership with other forms of life.“
Science writer Janine Benyus asks, “Why don’t we humans observe nature and design our technology and tools like nature does?” William McDonough and Michael Braungart in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things go further and argue for a shift from cradle-to-grave model of manufacturing, in which most of the products that we create after their short use end up as waste. And then, in order to dispose of waste or recycle a product we produce harmful additives. The authors suggest a cradle-to-cradle model, in which the materials “circulate infinitely in industrial cycles… without loss of quality or damage to our environment or us.” They also promote a way of thinking where we are accountable for creating responsible sustainable design by copying nature’s ways. Sustainable design is design that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
McDonoygh and Braungart believe that intelligent systems design can create an industrial environment that is actually beneficial to local ecology. In order to create such design, ecological thinking must be a major component.
Today many designers view their objects less as mechanisms and more as ecosystems. They believe that, ” to think ecologically is to focus on patterns, relationships and connectedness. We need to be able to understand parts in the context of a larger whole. The whole is not an equal sum of parts; the whole is bigger than the sum of parts. We need to understand that the world is a collection of objects and objects are networks of relationships; and there is a multileveled order of interdependence.”
Ecological thinking needs to be adaptive to changing conditions and be responsible to local ones. It also focuses on understanding how their decisions affect the earth.
Ecological thinking strategies influence other disciplines not related to ecology, from economics to engineering.
McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point.
Merchant, Carolyn, ed. Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory. New York: