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Ekaterina Gladkova, Alison Hutchinson, and Tanya Wyatt

Green criminology is now an established subfield of criminology. Having emerged in the 1990s, green criminology has rapidly grown, particularly in the last 10 years. Scholarship remains rooted in the critical and radical traditions that inspired its creation and challenge the orthodoxy of most criminological scholarship. This means that research in green criminology does not stick within the confines of only what is deemed criminal by the state but also uncovers harmful and injurious behaviors, particularly of the powerful, such as states and corporations. These once-hidden harms are approached from an environmental justice perspective that exposes the injury and suffering of marginalized people and also to the environment itself (ecological justice) and to nonhumans (species justice). More recent iterations of green criminology feature culture in addition to political economic explanations of crimes and harms against the environment and other species. Both theories of green crimes criticize capitalist societies and the ongoing problems of commodification and excessive consumption. In addition, new contributions, particularly from the Global South, are challenging the hegemony of Western criminological and environmental discourses, offering new (to the West) insights into relationships with nature and with other people. These studies have the potential to shape new prevention strategies and intervention mechanisms to disrupt green crimes and harms. This is urgent as the magnitude of environmental degradation is increasing—ranging from the threat of climate change, the possible extinction of a million species in the near future, and the ubiquity of plastic pollution, to name just a few forms of environmental destruction that humans have been, and are, perpetrating against the Earth.


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.


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.