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Article

The Harms and Crimes of Logging and Deforestation  

José Luis Carpio-Domínguez

Among the socioenvironmental problems that have been determinant in the causes of climate change, deforestation represents one of the main ones. The environmental harms caused by deforestation include the extinction of flora and fauna species, the loss of soil fertility, and limits on regional sustainability, affecting efforts to mitigate climate change. The social harms include the reduction of communities’ capacities for development and the loss of ecosystem services such as water and soil fertility for subsistence, and phenomena such as illegal logging, when configured as organized crime, threaten the security of local communities. Despite government efforts to regulate this practice at local, regional, and global levels, it is still present in an illegal or uncontrolled manner in many countries. Deforestation is linked to soft law enforcement, the economic precariousness of the places where deforestation takes place (as a subsistence or illegal activity), and highly profitable illegal markets, therefore requiring a multifactorial response. Improving forest law enforcement and environmental conservation also requires strong political commitment across governments, as well as institutional, social (including native and Indigenous communities), economic, and environmental sector collaboration, promoting horizontal governance at all levels.

Article

The Harms and Crimes Against Plant Species  

Esteban Morelle-Hungría and Pablo Serra-Palao

In the 21st century, the socio-environmental crisis is not limited to the quantitative analysis of the biophysical conditions on a global or sub-global scale. Individual species are directly affected by the “dynamics of the Anthropocene”: climate change, extreme weather events, deforestation, the acidification of the oceans, pollution, the use of pesticides, and many other anthropogenic pressures. All of these pressures have serious implications for individual species. Among all these affected species, this entry focuses on plant species. The Anthropocene dynamics and their associated impacts on individual plant species can be perceived at a number of different levels and with varying degrees of intensity and severity. In green criminology, the conceptual complexity of the distinction between environmental damage and crime has been widely debated, mainly due to their different politico-legal responses. For this reason, it is essential to provide an overview of environmental harms and crimes that affect plant species. To achieve this, the analysis begins with a theoretical foundation of green criminology, outlining its origins, multiple definitions and perspectives, ethical foundations, and justice frameworks. From this green criminological perspective, the scientific literature on a selected list of harms and crimes against plant species is reviewed using a holistic and interdisciplinary approach.

Article

Offenders of Environmental Crimes  

Rita Faria

Criminology was born from the political and scientific project of producing evidence-based knowledge about a particular kind of subject: the criminal. This evasive topic of inquiry has driven orthodox and positivistic criminology to look for risk factors, situational clues, criminal scripts, opportunities for crime, and so on. But critiques of such approach have noted how the framework of criminal action and motivation—that is: crime—ought to be analyzed from a social constructionist perspective rather than by mere reified, legal notions. In green criminology scholarship, environmental harms and crimes have been critically debated, and it is fairly accepted that, while necessary, legalistic approaches to environmental offenses would not suffice due to their ethnocentric perspective of life, social order, and justice. However, in green criminology, evidence-based and critical debates about the environmental offender are somehow lagging. There has been a growth of research devoted to understanding environmental offending and ways to react to it, and more data about offenders is being collected, with authors now in a better position to inform about the features of those who commit environmental offenses and harms. However, a closer look at the bulk of literature reveals that green criminology has been looking at a hard-to-grasp reality, composed of a multitude of actors (and respective actions) that include individual offenders, as well as criminal networks, and legitimate organizations such as corporations and states—all of which should be envisioned as complex systems that interact with particular surroundings and contexts, moved by specific values and (sub)cultural norms. Trying to convey this multitude into one article is not an easy job and, overall, the complexity of environmental offenses reveals the multifaceted nature of offenders and the multilayered causes and motives of behaviors that harm the environment or break those laws and regulations dedicated to protecting nonhuman species, habitats, or the environment as a whole.

Article

Theory and Green Criminology  

Kimberly L. Barrett and Rachelle F. Marshall

Green criminology refers to a perspective within criminology that, broadly speaking, is devoted to the study of crime against and harms to the natural environment. Initially, green criminology was introduced as the study of environmental harm from a political-economic vantage point and was informed by theories from critical, radical, and political-economic (e.g., “conflict paradigm”) perspectives. Over time, however, new definitions of green criminology have emerged, as have new terms for the criminological study of environmental crimes (e.g., “conservation criminology”). These developments have invited new theoretical interpretations of environmental crime and justice. While conflict theories still maintain a degree of centrality in green criminology, the perspective has expanded to include mainstream theoretical orientations (e.g., “classical paradigm,” “consensus/positivist paradigm”) as well.

Article

Environmental Crime  

Carole Gibbs and Rachel Boratto

Environmental crime is a complex and ambiguous term for several reasons. It is sometimes used as an umbrella term for crimes related to biodiversity, wildlife, animals, natural resources, hazardous waste, banned substances, and environmental quality, but scholars have also developed typologies to capture the unique dimensions of each form of environmental crime. Disagreements regarding whether to distinguish violations of environmental laws (addressed via civil prosecution or administrative actions) from environmental crimes (criminally prosecuted), and whether to also consider environmental harms (legal activities that harm the environment) or environmental risks produce further confusion. The range of offenders also complicates this concept, as individuals, groups/networks, and powerful organizations commit environmental crimes. The degree of harm created by each actor may, or may not, be equivalent. Given the complexities of this area of study, scholars have developed and/or tested a wide range of theoretical perspectives on and interventions to address environmental crime. Consistent with conceptual disagreements, these theoretical frameworks and corresponding interventions vary (arguably the most) based on whether the dependent variable is environmental crime (as defined by law), or environmental harm or risk defined using other criteria. However, multiple theoretical perspectives/interventions are also examined within research on these broad categories of environmental crime, harm, and risk. In order to capture the breadth of research on environmental crime, we narrow the focus of this article to pollution related crimes (e.g., hazardous waste, banned substances, environmental quality). In the following article, we offer further detail regarding conceptual discussions, legal complexities, types of offenders, types of crime, and research on this subset of environmental crimes.

Article

Green Criminology, Culture, and Cinema  

Bill McClanahan, Avi Brisman, and Nigel South

Since first proposed by Brisman and South, green cultural criminology has sought to interrogate human-environment interactions in order to locate meaning. Within the broad framework of green cultural criminology, work has emerged that follows visual criminology in looking to the visual cultural register for insights into the intersections of crime, harm, justice, culture and the natural environment. This article turns the green cultural criminological gaze towards motion pictures, by considering how cinema can serve as a central and essential site of the cultural production and communication of knowledge and meaning(s) that inform human interactions with the natural environment. Indeed, environmental crimes, harms, and disasters are constructed and imagined and represented in cinema, and the films discussed in this article illustrate the ways in which the environment-culture connection in the contemporary cinematic mediascape has influenced public discourses concerning environmental change and harm. This article begins by examining the capacity of documentary film to raise public awareness and generate shifts in public consciousness about environmental harms. From here, it explores cinematic science fiction representations of apocalyptic climate disaster, noting the power of the medium in communicating contemporary anxieties surrounding climate change. Finally, filmic communications of a central category of interest for green cultural criminology—resistance to environmental harm—are described, in addition to the various ways that resistance by environmentalists has recently been represented in popular cinema. The films discussed throughout—including An Inconvenient Truth, Cowspiracy, The East, If A Tree Falls, Night Moves, and Snowpiercer—are not an exhaustive sampling of contemporary representations of environmental issues in cinema. Rather, they represent the most salient—and are among the most popular—moments of contemporary cinematic engagement with the nexus of environmental harm and culture. This article concludes by contending that a green cultural criminology should continue to look to the visual register because sites of cultural production often overlooked by criminology (e.g., cinema, literature) can reveal significant and essential information about the moments in which environmental harm, justice, and culture intersect and collide.

Article

The Harms and Crimes of Farming/Food  

Ekaterina Gladkova

The processes of food production and consumption illuminate the relationship between society and the natural environment as well as the inner workings of the global political economy. As a result, food has been increasingly used by scholars to explore the world, and food-focused research is a rapidly growing research area within criminology. Studies of food crime and harm challenge the legal-procedural approach in criminology by examining harmful but legal activities and challenging the limitations of the victimhood construction. Industrial farming presents a useful case study for expanding the criminological research frontiers. Although a socially normalized and even encouraged practice, it is characterized by systemic harms rooted in the normal functioning of the capitalist food system. This includes harms against more-than-human animals, the natural environment, and communities living in that environment.

Article

The Harms and Crimes Against Terrestrial Wildlife (Nonhuman Animals)  

Rebecca W.Y. Wong

Nonhuman animals are widely exploited and abused by human beings. While some of these exploitative actions (or inactions) are punishable by law, many actions are not legally defined, and these actions continue to be carried out despite the harm they cause to nonhuman beings. It is incorrect to assume that actions that are lawful cannot harm nonhuman beings or the environment, and the sociolegal approach asks, “What is the harm involved?” rather than “Is this lawful?” This approach departs from a human-centered focus on environmental crime, which results in more victims (nonhuman beings or the natural environment) being identified. Ultimately, changes in attitudes and behavior are crucial for environmental conservation. Environmental campaigns should be more culturally sensitive and free from racial stereotypes to be effective in driving changes.

Article

The Harms and Crimes of Water Theft and Pollution  

Katja Eman

Water is a natural resource vital for the sustenance of life. Any harm against water resources should thus be recognized as a crime—defined in procedural and moral terms as wrongdoings determined within the legal justice system and social norms. With water scarcity and related crises, water protection has become a crucial concept, one impacting political, social, economic, and other fields. Therefore, identifying, defining, and prosecuting different forms of water crimes are essential. In this context, even the use of the term “water crimes” communicates the severe consequences of such activities for society. Water theft and water pollution are only two among various forms of crime against water resources, causing irreparable harm and damage, mainly due to the multiple dimensions of such crimes, in many areas. Water theft is understood as any form of stealing water from the natural water resources or water supply system to obtain an economic advantage by physically altering the supply system. Water pollution means any intentional contamination of water. The consequences of both crimes are a reduction in the quantity (and quality) of water, causing harm to the natural environment and its inhabitants (i.e., plants, animals, and humans). Moreover, most cases of serious water theft or pollution can end in the loss of life, including human life.

Article

Law Enforcement  

Angus Nurse

Law enforcement can be considered in both the “narrow” sense of the policing and enforcement of law and a wider sense of the maintenance of order and reinforcement of societal rules and dominant ideologies. The maintenance of social order, protection of citizens, and prevention of and redress for harms against citizens, property, and nonhuman nature are heavily reliant on law enforcement. Effective criminal justice is arguably dependent on law enforcement as a dominant feature of criminal justice systems that adopt the notion of punishment as a tool of social control. Societal construction of harm and the definition of unacceptable behavior often manifests itself in laws, rules, and regulations that serve as both control mechanisms and expressions of societal norms. Where societal rules, in the form of laws and regulations, are broken, effective law enforcement is essential both to demonstrate societal disapproval of the “deviant” behavior and to provide for social sanction through appropriate redress and retributive justice mechanisms. Accordingly, law enforcement and policing are inextricably linked in the context of providing a means through which serious social harms can be dealt with. But law enforcement goes far beyond policing, both conceptually and with respect to the mechanisms that are deployed to express society’s disapproval and ultimately secure redress. In a narrow sense, policing can be defined as that which the police (or recognized policing agencies) carry out. This often centers around enforcement of the criminal law and a detection, investigation, and apprehension model inextricably linked to ideas of retributive justice. By contrast, law enforcement is broader, involves civil and criminal justice agencies, and can incorporate administrative and regulatory law mechanisms and even alternative dispute resolution as a means of resolving disputes and ensuring appropriate redress. Thus, law enforcement can also extend beyond the confines of retributive criminal justice to incorporate restorative and rehabilitative justice mechanisms to encourage compliance.

Article

The Harms and Crimes Against Marine Wildlife  

Alison Hutchinson

The concept of crime within traditional criminological scholarship has tended to center on human or state victims. This anthropocentric focus facilitates speciesism within criminal law, where the recognition of, and responses to, environmental and wildlife victims are diminished. In contrast, and building on the foundations of critical criminology, green criminology is less confined by the strict definitions of crime found in orthodox criminology. The emergence of nonspeciesist perspectives within green criminology offers a means to expand the concept of crime and justice to recognize the numerous harms committed toward wildlife and environmental victims. It is well documented that marine species are under numerous and increasing pressures—from climate change, acidification of oceans, and the intensification of extractive ocean industries. Species who are also regarded as food resources face additional pressures from human exploitation as markets expand and demand grows. Very few of these pressures are actively criminalized. While fishing, mining, and polluting activities, and the disturbance and trade of protected species may be prohibited in certain situations, many detrimental practices toward marine species remain normative, condoned, and encouraged (e.g., fishing, shipping, and mining activities that involve the killing, displacement, or disruption of marine species). Transformative expansion of definitions of crime is urgently needed, to recognize the legal yet harmful behaviors that continue to victimize, exploit, kill, and potentially drive marine species to extinction.

Article

Environmental Crime in Latin America and Southern Green Criminology  

David Rodríguez Goyes

Latin America has been the site of extensive raw material extraction ever since its colonization by Europeans in the late 15th century. Throughout this period, large-scale resource extraction and associated practices—agroindustry, deforestation, disposal of waste and dangerous substances, industrial fishing, mining, and wildlife trafficking—have been the cause of widespread environmental crime and social conflict in Latin America, harming ecosystems and human and nonhuman species. Environmental degradation has simultaneously triggered further crimes such as the establishment of illegal markets and the creation of monopolies that control natural resources. Furthermore, environmental victimization has heightened social conflict in Latin American societies. Latin American criminologists began paying attention to environmental destruction and socioenvironmental conflicts in Latin America in the 1970s, but anglophone criminologists paid little if any attention to these criminologists for at least four decades. But the recent maturation of Southern green criminology has seen an increased focus of criminological research on environmental crime in Latin America. Latin American criminologists have exposed instances of primary, secondary, and tertiary green crimes in Latin America, and by so doing they have added depth to the formulations of anglophone green criminologists. Southern green criminology is concerned with the sociocriminological study of environmental crime in the Global South, while being attentive to (a) the legacy of colonization and North–South and core–periphery divides in the production of environmental crime, (b) the epistemological contributions of the marginalized, impoverished, and oppressed, and (c) the particularities of the contexts of the Global South. Southern green criminologists are currently producing innovative academic knowledge about the causes of, consequences of, and potential responses to environmental crime in Latin America.

Article

Habitat Loss  

Mònica Pons-Hernández

Habitat loss refers to the disappearance of natural environments that house specific plant and animal species. Habitat loss encompass three main types: habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. Habitat destruction involves extensive devastation of natural environments, habitat degradation results from the depletion of vital resources like water and food, and habitat fragmentation refers to the conversion of large wild areas into smaller ones. All forms of habitat loss are endangering species’ survival. Primarily driven by human activities, the loss of habitat adversely affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Land conversion for agriculture, mining, and urban development leads to the loss of forests and other habitats. Aquatic environments also suffer habitat loss caused by dredging, pollution, or waste. Moreover, climate change, a consequence of global warming, further intensifies habitat loss. Droughts, floods, wildfires, and changing water conditions impact both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Although the link between habitat destruction and criminology may not be immediately apparent, its harmful effects make it of interest to criminologists. Green criminology’s focus on harms, along with crimes and the impacts of these harms toward all species and environments, makes habitat loss of key interest for criminology. Habitat loss falls under the scope of green criminology because of its effects on ecosystems, humans, and nonhuman species. It is important to note that habitat and biodiversity loss are deeply intertwined. The case of the European eel illustrates the (slow) violence linked to habitat loss and its effects on biodiversity. European eels face multiple threats due to habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. The construction of weirs and dams is one of the major factors that negatively impacts eels. It restricts their movement and blocks both upstream and downstream migration routes, destroying and fragmenting their habitat. As a migratory species, freedom of movement is crucial for their survival, making the presence of these barriers a significant concern. Additionally, global warming and ocean modifications further degrade eels’ habitats, affecting the survival of larvae during their drift and silver (adult) eels during their spawning migration. Furthermore, the introduction of nonnative species and the increasing contamination levels in eel habitats also contribute to their degradation, posing another danger to the species’ survival. Overall, European eels are a landmark opportunity to highlight the diverse range of causes of habitat loss and the (slow) violence ingrained in it.