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May 15, 2018 / C H Thompson

Green crime – revision notes with evaluative points


Since the early 1990s, when first proposed by Lynch (1990), ‘green criminology’ has been
concerned with environmental crimes and harms affecting human and non‐human life,
ecosystems, and the planet as a whole.

South, 1998, defined green crime, as crimes against the environment. Green crime can also be linked to globalisation, and the growing interconnectedness of today’s society. An example of green crime is where the atmospheric pollution for much of England and Wales has caused acid rain in Sweden, ravaging their pine forests.

There are two approaches to the topic of green criminology:

Traditional criminologists – >

  • they say that no crime is actually being committed, as since defined by the law, no law has been committed
  • however, this approach has been criticized for accepting the official definitions of environmental problems by interactionists ->
  • the definitions are socially constructed and there to serve the interests of those making the definitions

Transgressive (green) criminologists ->

  • take a more radical approach by looking at the harm done to the physical environment rather than whether laws are being broken
  • White, 2013, takes on this approach as he argues that any actions that harms the physical environment, even if no laws have been broken.
  • furthermore, different countries have different laws, therefore of a harmful act committed in one country may not be considered illegal in another country
  • Transgressives get round this by not strictly following the definition of green crime, in order to develop a global perspective of environmental crime



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