Green criminology

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Green crime
Halsey noted in 2004 that the scope of ecological problems had widened vastly over the
course of the last century ­ half of the world's wetlands had been lost as had half of the
world's forests to deforestation, around 9% of tree species were facing extinction and that
there was a sustainability crisis in fishing as the total world fishing fleet was 40% larger than
the oceans were able to sustain naturally. These issues that he highlighted represent a
growing strand of criminology (and sociology as a whole) which is concern with who is
responsible for ecological threats and what should be done to deal with them. This has been
coupled with a boom in the size of the global economy and the world's population increasing
to 7 billion people.
Green criminology has diverted in a radically different direction from other forms in two main
ways: it focuses not only on illegal but also legally sanctioned environmental harms and it
shows a large amount of concern for the welfare of nonhuman animals and plants, though
usually this is in the context of what will happen to humans if these various species are
One problem that is immediately thrown p when dealing with issues of green crime is that the
notion of harm does not have an agreed upon definition and it changes from society to
society (what one government views as harm may not be seen as harm by another) and
ultimately it is strongly influenced by the dominant ideological hegemony of society. Halsey
and White believe that for green criminology to progress as a subdiscipline that there needs
to be a globally recognised definition of harm (in the form of international laws and treaties
by bodies such as the UN) which are not subject to the same special interests of various
groups in a given society. As green criminology has expanded as a topic of interest there
have been three distinct approaches that have emerged as way to try and tackle the issues
The first has looked primarily at violations of existing regulations and laws regarding the
environment as its starting point to try and establish a way of investigating these incidences,
how such transgressions come about and developing more stringent measure to try and
prevent them from being broken further in the future. They begin, as most conventional
criminology does with an investigation of the motive for breaking these laws. Braithwaite has
criticised this first approach because it does not try to take account of the special interests
that influence the law such as transnational corporations that can lobby governments so that
taxes or other costs regarding the prevention of environmental harm do not damage their
profits too heavily.
The second approach taken by theorists such as Chun et al (2003) can be seen as more
radical due to its similarity to doctrines such as Marxism have tried to build on the problems
with the first by investigating further those actions that while legal still have `negative
environmental impact' and takes greater consideration of powerful groups that may be able
to influence the ways that laws are formed so as to protect their own interests. Perhaps the
most notable example of this is the influence that the World Bank (an institution that is
strongly aligned according to neoliberal thought) has had in developing the notion of

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Halsey and White however believe that because of the influence of neoliberal doctrine on the
formation of this concept it ignores that very real possibility that unrestrained growth could
lead to faster consumption of the world's natural resources which would lead to greater
environmental problems. We can see the distinction between the two approaches if we take
a moment to illustrate them with an example of a real life environmental disaster.…read more

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Beck rejects the notion that the lack of sociological thinking with regard to environmental
issues is down the influence of large corporations by arguing that it has not been focused on
by the social sciences because it has academic interest has largely been confined to the
natural sciences by focusing on the environmental changes that have occurred rather than
their causes.…read more

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Day states however that the case of Rainbow
Warrior was unusual because it became widespread public knowledge and that this is not
the case with many examples of state violence against environmentalists, its prominence in
the public sphere its likely due to the extremities of the measures that were taken and their
consequences.…read more


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