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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

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

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

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

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

Green Cultural Criminology: Foundations, Variations and New Frames  

Anita Lam, Nigel South, and Avi Brisman

Green cultural criminology (GCC) is a hybridized, interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon general propositions associated with green criminology and cultural criminology. Whereas green criminology is concerned with crimes and harms affecting the natural environment and the planet, including their associated impacts on human and nonhuman life, cultural criminology is focused on the ways and means by which crime and crime control are socially constructed, enforced, represented, and resisted. The directions of GCC are wide-ranging and can be expressed as forms of inquiry about (a) media and popular cultural representations of environmental harms, crimes, and disasters, including how difference, deviance, and resistance are constructed in regard to environments and spaces; (b) the dynamics and constructions of consumption, especially with respect to the commodification of nature; and (c) the contestation of space, transgression, and resistance in relation to environmental harms. Over time, variations in GCC have emerged to explore how the cultural production of meanings—namely meanings associated with environment, human, and nonhuman species along with the connections and linkages between them—structures and informs the various ways that we conceive and make sense of, think and feel about, as well as act toward, interact with, and make decisions regarding the environment. To enhance existing ways of thinking about GCC in a post-pandemic world, four additional “cultural frames” are suggested for investigation and analysis: ekphrasis, elite consumption, commodification of nature, and Black Sky Thinking.

Article

Green Criminology and Biodiversity Loss: Crimes and Harms against Flora and Fauna  

Daan van Uhm

Biodiversity is essential for the well-being of the world but has been declining at an alarming rate in the 20th and 21st centuries. An important threat to biodiversity consists of criminal and harmful activities against the environment. Biodiversity crime refers to illicit and unlawful acts or serious harms that pressure biological entities, including individuals and populations of species and their habitats, as well as the ecosystem’s functions and the services it supports and generates. A green criminological perspective, in which environmental crimes are approached from an extended principle of harm that encompasses adverse effects on human and non-human victims, serves to understand actors, legal–illegal interfaces, and harms behind biodiversity crimes. Flora and fauna crime groups are not homogeneous but include organized crime groups, corporate crime groups, and disorganized crime groups; they utilize different approaches and become involved in different flora and fauna markets. The legal–illegal dynamics of the market facilitate the laundering of flora and fauna, and some biodiversity crimes converge with other forms of crime, including drugs, arms, and sex trafficking. The harms linked to biodiversity crimes are illustrated by forced displacement, land-grabbing, and gross human rights abuses, including forced labor, and severe threats to workers’ health and safety. Biodiversity crimes are also connected to tragic and incalculable ecological consequences, since biodiversity decline alters key processes important to the productivity and sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems, and further loss will rapidly accelerate change in ecosystem processes.

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.