||A term coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel as \'oecologie\'. The Greek word \'oikonomia\' is the root of both \'economy\' and \'ecology\'; the former means \'management of the household\' and the latter means \'science of the household\' (Hayward, 1994). When Haeckel coined the term \'oecologie\', he had in mind the metaphor of \'nature\'s economy\' (Worster, 1977, p. 192).
Ecology has three distinct, but related, meanings. The first is the interactions of organisms with each other, with their biotic and abiotic environments, and the outcomes of these interactions, (i.e. their ecology). The second, often labelled \'scientific ecology\' or \'professional ecology\', is an area of academic inquiry that constitutes a sub-discipline of biology. This use of the term \'ecology\' is the study of the interactions outlined in the first definition. The third meaning perceives ecology to be the most politically engaged, critical and normative of the traditional sciences (see Merchant, 1994). This politicization of ecology dates from the late 1960s. In 1970, a professional ecologist told a US Congressional Committee that \'ecology is no longer a scientific discipline â€” it\'s an attitude of mind\' (in McCormick, 1995, p. 57). This definition of ecology is similar to Sachs\' perception of ecology as \'the philosophy of a social movement\' (Sachs, 1993, p. xv). The tension within this third definition is the perceived need to justify normative ideas (see normative theory) with a scientific basis. Ecology may simultaneously become the attitude of mind (i.e. reverence for the earth, ecological processes and communities), the normative project (i.e. protection for the earth, ecological processes and communities) and the scientific justification that is considered necessary for the normative project.
The tensions between scientific/professional ecology and what may be called \'normative ecology\' are situated in epistemology and ontology. Epistemologically, scientific ecology claims to be objective. It follows traditional scientific approaches to knowledge, such as quantification and experimentation. Normative ecology is an attitude of mind that focuses on reverence for the earth which comes from intimate contact with the earth as subject. Ontologically, scientific ecology perceives both competition and cooperation, but often implicitly emphasizes competition for food, habitats and light. Nature is perceived to be dynamic, with no sense of \'balance\'. Ecologists in the scientific ecology approach often present the findings of scientific studies to political decision-makers. In contrast, normative ecologists often identify a \'balance of nature\', although it is recognized that nature is dynamic. Normative ecologists generally critique political institutions, and are more likely to take direct action against existing institutions to achieve their normative project. This approach stems largely from an ontological position that believes nature is based largely on cooperation, with competition occurring within limited domains. The cooperation in nature includes humans cooperating in political action. This approach is often equated with environmentalism or the environmental movement. However, some authors (e.g. Dobson, 1996) distinguish between \'ecologism\' and \'environmentalism\', where the former is more radical in its critique of existing society and approaches. This distinction is maintained in the use of the term \'ecology\' to distinguish between \'ecological economics\' and \'environmental economics\'.
Within the \'normative ecology\' approach, there are a number of major distinctions. Bramwell (1989) highlighted their range as being from Left to Right on the traditional ideological spectrum, which may also be understood as being from strongly anthropocentric to ecocentric (after Dobson, 1996), from romantic to technocratic and from anarchist to authoritarian. Three influential traditions within \'ecologism\' are \'social ecology\', \'global ecology\' and \'political ecology\'. Social ecology is associated with the eco-anarchist work of Murray Bookchin (1990). In this approach, there are no hierarchies in nature that serve as a natural foundation and justification for the existing hierarchies in human society. Instead, nature is a \'web of life\'. However, according to Bookchin, human domination of nature will persist as long as hierarchies within human society are maintained. Global ecology, which includes the work of Wolfgang Sachs, is the radical political critique of global and international institutions, and events that are perceived as mildly reformist \'environmentalism\'. The question of scale is crucial here because although these authors adopt a global focus, they are very concerned with the links between local and global representations and impacts. Political ecology is a term that has been used by anarchist authors (Roussopoulos, 1993), \'green\' authors (Lipietz, 1995) and Marxist-inspired authors in international development (Blaikie and Brookfield, 1987; Black, 1990; Peet and Watts, 1993; Bryant, 1997). To date, the latter use of political ecology has been the most influential of these approaches within geography.
Geographers have also used work from within the scientific ecology tradition. Community ecology, defined as the composition or structure of communities and the movement of energy and matter through them, was developed by Cowles and Clements in the early twentieth century, who studied plant communities and were themselves influenced by geographers such as Humboldt, de Candolle, Engler, Gray and Kerner. The work of Hutchinson and H.T. and E.P. Odum in the 1950s on energy flow and energy budgets has also been used in geography. There have been numerous instances of ecological concepts being borrowed from geographers, economists and anthropologists by ecologists, and vice versa. The fields of human ecology, urban ecology, industrial ecology and landscape ecology are attempts to link the separate disciplines and/or to overcome the binary between human and nature. For instance, urban ecology challenges the dualism between \'natural\' and \'built\' environments, but still tends to emphasize biophysical structures and processes relative to social structures and processes. Recent work in human ecology by contributors to Steiner and Nauser (1993) emphasizes structuration theory as a way to develop an integrative theoretical framework to understand \'ecological issues\'. Industrial ecology is increasingly being seen as a way to move towards sustainable development by analysing industries not as isolated entities but as part of an industrial system. Outputs from one industry become inputs into another industry, a process which closes waste loops and conserves resources and energy (Graedel and Allenby, 1995).
Cronon (1993) noted the historical dimension of ecology. He recognized that the first generation of white American ecologists, such as Frederic Clements, understood natural systems as progressing towards a \'climax\'. Once achieved, this was the \'balance of nature\' that humans should not disturb. While this approach to ecology underpins some normative ecology positions, it has been thoroughly critiqued from a scientific ecology basis by A.G. Tansley, who coined the term ecosystem, and more recently by Daniel Botkin (1990) and the Non Equilibrium Thermodynamic ecologists who stress dynamism and change in ecosystems (Reice, 1994). Its implications of a pristine nature prior to human \'disturbance\' have also been critiqued because they often associate \'human\' with colonial people, rather than indigenous people who have been part of the ecology for thousands of years (Willems-Braun, 1997).
These tensions between normative and scientific ecology, and within various normative ecologies, are deep divides based on ontological and epistemological differences, perceptions of nature and normative projects. Within these tensions is the question of the similarities between processes and structures in human society and those of animals, plants and the earth. Geographers potentially have an important role in moving debates beyond environmental determinism, and dualisms of human and nature, to focus on the ongoing processes that constitute humans as part of nature.Â (PM)
References Black, R. 1990: Regional political ecology in theory and practice: a case study from northern Portugal. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 15: 35-47.Â Blaikie, P. and Brookfield, H. 1987: Land degradation and society. London: Methuen; Bookchin, M. 1990: Remaking society: pathways to a green future. Boston: South End Press.Â Botkin, D. 1990: Discordant harmonies: a new ecology for the twenty-first century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Â Bramwell, A. 1989: Ecology in the 20th century. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Â Bryant, R. 1997: Beyond the impasse: the power of political ecology in Third World environmental research. Area 29 1: 5-19.Â Cronon, W. 1993: Foreword: The turn toward history. In M. McDonnell and S. Pickett, eds, Humans as components of ecosystems: the ecology of subtle human effects and populated areas. New York: Springer-Verlag.Â Dobson, A. 1996: Green political thought, 2nd edn. London: HarperCollins Academic; Graedel, T. and Allenby, B. 1995: Industrial ecology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Â Grove, R. 1995: Green imperialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Hayward, T., 1994: Ecological thought: an introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.Â Lipietz, A. 1995: Green Hopes: The Future of Political Ecology. Cambridge: Polity Press.Â Merchant, C., ed., 1994: Ecology. New Jersey: Humanities Press.Â McCormick, J. 1995: The global environmental movement, 2nd edn. Chichester: Wiley.Â Peet, R. and Watts. M. 1993: Introduction: development theory and environment in an age of market triumphalism. Economic Geography 69: 227-53.Â Reice, S. 1994: Nonequilibrium determinants of biological community structure. American Scientist 82: 424-35.Â Roussopoulos, D. 1993: Political ecology: beyond environmentalism. Montreal: Black Rose Books.Â Sachs, W. 1993: Introduction. In W. Sachs, ed., Global ecology â€” a new arena of political conflict. London and New Jersey: Zed Books, xv-xviii.Â Steiner, D. and Nauser, E., eds, 1993: Human ecology: fragments of anti-fragmentary views of the world. London and New York: Routledge.Â Willems-Braun, B. 1997: Buried epistemologies: the politics of nature in (post)colonial British Columbia. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87 1: 3-31.Â Worster, D. 1977: Nature\'s economy: a history of ecological ideas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Suggested Reading Graedel and Allenby (1995).Â McDonnell, M. and Pickett, S. 1993: Humans as components of ecosystems: the ecology of subtle human effects and populated areas. New York: Springer-Verlag.