Green Criminology


Green Criminology

Based on research by M. Lynch &

P. Stretsky and Routledge

Social Construction of Crime

• Like other crimes, green criminology is a social construction

• Influenced by:

• social locations

• Power relations in society

• Definitions of environmental crimes

• Media

• Political process

Corporate vs. Environmental


• Two very different definitions on what it means “to be green.”

• 1970s was a time of political activism aimed at environmental protection

Corporate Definition

• 1990s was supposed to be the decade of the environment

• But things didn’t quite go as planned…..

• The involvement of corporations actually sidetracked the movement

• Corporations were able to influence the social construction of green through the use of public relations and the mass media

• This version was: mild less radical de-political zed vision

• Stressed consumption rather than production issues

• A human could become “green” just by buying the correct products

• This was known as “greenwashing”

• This enabled corporations to defuse and redirect support for environment

• Why did corporations do this?

• Radical environmental positions were a threat to corporations

• They wanted “business as usual.”

An example of “business as usual”

• Love Canal near Niagara Falls

• In the 1940s Love Canal was an abandoned navigation channel

• For years Hooker Chemical dumped thousands of drums filled with toxic chemical waste directly into the canal

• In 1952 the canal was covered up

• A year later Hooker Company sold the land to the Niagara Falls Board of


• A school was built

• In the 1970s Niagara Falls experienced a season of very heavy rain

• Chemicals began to seep up onto the school grounds and neighboring homes, including their basements

• Federal and state officials investigated and found:

• 88 separate chemicals, some in concentrations 250 to 5,000 times higher than acceptable safety levels

• 11 of the 88 were known carcinogens

• This case received massive media attention

• Though Hooker Company had a total disregard for the environment or future generations they had not broken any law

• Since then new laws have been passed…

• Though many were then reversed by the

Reagan administration

The “greenwashing” continues

• Chevron has commercials proclaiming they care about the environment

• Just look at all they have done for the El

Segundo Blue Butterfly

• Of course, the butterfly would have been safe if its habitat was not on top of the

U.S.’s largest underground oil spill

Environmental Justice (EJ)

• Three major types of EJ

• Ecofeminism

• Environmental racism

• Red-green movement


• Began in the 1970s

• Criticized capitalist profit-growth orientation and the patriarchy

• Connects the domination and exploitation of nature with the domination and exploitation of women

• Argues that women are more concerned with survival than men

• It has been shown that women do put more money back into their own communities than their male counterparts

• Ecofeminism can be achieved by

• Reorienting cultural values

• Returning to small-scale local economies

• And grass root democracy

Environmental Racism

• Simultaneously advocates EJ and the elimination of racial discrimination in environmental decisions

• Argues that toxic factories, pollution and waste sites affect communities of color more than Caucasians

• Short term goals: race-linked theory and action

• Long term goals:

• Elimination of exposure to dangerous products and practices for all

Union Carbide Chemical plant in

Bhopal, India

• December 1984

• The world’s worst environmental accident occurred

• (Chernobyl was a close 1 st runner up)

• The plant used highly toxic chemicals in its production process

• Water somehow got mixed into the toxic chemicals

• An explosion occurred

• It is estimated that more than 6,000 humans died as a result of this “accident”

• 60,000 other humans were seriously affected by the toxic gases

• Over 20,000 of which who were permanently injured as a result of the exposure

• It is argued that far fewer humans would have died if……

• The plant had not been located so close to the shanty towns of the poor

• The true extent of the damage will not be known for twenty or more years

• This could affect birth defects in upcoming generations

• Impact the natural environment and wildlife

Red-green movement

• Relates economic oppression to environmental degradation

• In a class society environmental problems are more likely to impact the working class and the poor

• Example?

• Goal: Ecological Socialism

• A method of simultaneously eliminating environmentally destructive

• Unsustainable production practices

• Exploitative mode of production

• All three are connected