Ecological thinking is holistic. It is how one must look at the whole issue instead of individual parts along with considering everything. Also it brings to our attention our relationships with our environment and calls upon our global responsibility to care for this environment. Furthermore it is the “responsibility of leading by following” (Mortito 10).
Stewardship, patterns, context, relationships, networks and process are all main concepts in ecological thinking. Stewardship refers to humanity’s responsibility to take care of our world. Ecological thinking usually looks for patterns, because without patterns there will be an infinite number of possibilities to consider when thinking holistically. When thinking about context ecologically, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Also objects are not independent, but are networks of relationships. Instead of hierarchies, holistic views use networks that are multileveled and interdependent. The process of ecological thinking involves linking thinking and information together in a free flow network that is usually an open system.
There are two common characteristics of ecological thinking, which are responding to local conditions and adapting to changing conditions. In order to respond to local conditions, decisions are made by looking at local information and deciding upon the best course of action from a holistic approach. Since none of the decisions are fixed, new solutions can be made in order to adapt to new and changing conditions.
By thinking ecologically we cannot be a disruption to the ecological equilibrium but instead become important and positive components. We can also be included in our observations as we are observing them by being ‘actors’ and ‘reflectors’. ‘Actors’ because we interact with environment, and ‘reflectors’ because we are aware of the systems in these environments and our effect on it.
But why should we think ecologically? The reason can be seen within today’s society and by looking into our history. Our current society has become excluded and detached from the environment along with gaining a hegemonic view. Hegemony places importance on dominance and superiority. Now if we look into the past at the Easter Islands we can see how their detachment and hegemonic views lead to their demise. It is believe that statues on Easter were extremely symbolic and that the more statues a clan had meant more power. So the clans were always taking each other’s statues from one another, but the problem was that it the only way to move them was by rolling them on logs. Since the Easter Islands only ha limited resources, their feud eventually wiped out all their resources and eventually their end. So if we keep on thinking the same way we normally do it is likely that we too will us up our resources which will lead to our downfall. That is why we need to switch our thinking from the individual to ecological and holistic thinking.
Kieny, Shoshana. Ecological Thinking: a new approach to education. Maryland: University of America Inc., 2002.
Ulrich, Werner. Some Difficulties of Ecological Thinking, Considered From a Critical Systems Perspective: A Plea for Critical Holism. New York: Plenum Publishing Corporation, 1993.
Pickett, Steward, Jurek Kolasa and Clive Jones. Ecological Understanding: The Nature of Theory and the Theory of Nature. London: Elsevier Inc., 2007.
Bryce Mortito. Thinking Ecologically: Environmental Thought, Values and Policy. Black Point: Fernwood Publishing, 2002.