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Environmental crimes and harms are rife in rural and remote areas, partly because they avoid close government scrutiny owing to their location, and partly because of activities such as mining, forestry and agriculture, with which some crimes are associated, are intrinsic to areas outside of urban centres. Given that environmental crime generally involves some type of natural resource use (such as illegal harvesting of plants and animals), contamination and pollution (such as illegal waste disposal) and/or modification of natural environments (such as illegal land clearance), it is not unusual to find such crimes associated with the countryside rather than the metropole (see Barclay and Bartel, 2015). A conventional approach to environmental criminology views environmental crime primarily through the lens of legality. This means that it is concerned with harmful activities that have been formally criminalized in international and domestic law as criminal offences. Typically, these crimes include the illegal taking of flora and fauna (which includes activities such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing; illegal logging and trade in timber; and illegal trade in wildlife), pollution offences (which relates to issues such as illegal dumping as well as water, air and land pollution associated with industry) and transportation of banned substances (which refers to the illegal transport of radioactive materials and illegal transfer of hazardous waste). Relying solely on legal definitions of environmental crime has its limitations, however. This is acknowledged by writers who adopt ecological understandings of nature and who thereby have different conceptions of how crime and harm might be conceived.

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An eco-justice perspective
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This unique study of social harm offers a systematic and critical discussion of the nature of environmental harm from an eco-justice perspective, challenging conventional criminological definitions of environmental harm.

The book evaluates three interconnected justice-related approaches to environmental harm: environmental justice (humans), ecological justice (the environment) and species justice (non-human animals). It provides a critical assessment of environmental harm by interrogating key concepts and exploring how activists and social movements engage in the pursuit of justice. It concludes by describing the tensions between the different approaches and the importance of developing an eco-justice framework that to some extent can reconcile these differences.

Using empirical evidence built on theoretical foundations with examples and illustrations from many national contexts, ‘Environmental harm’ will be of interest to students and academics in criminology, sociology, law, geography, environmental studies, philosophy and social policy all over the world.

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This chapter elaborates on the three approaches that singly and collectively contribute to and underpin an eco-justice perspective: environmental justice, ecological justice and species justice. Eco-justice is itself a complex notion that incorporates elements from all three justice approaches. Fundamentally, applying an eco-justice perspective involves weighing up the nature and degree of harm, in specific risk situations, in relation to humans, eco-systems and nonhuman species (including plants). Action outcomes and specific interventions can and should only proceed on the basis of detailed knowledge and discussion of these three types of injustice, and how they ‘fit’ together and overlap in any given circumstance. After briefly outlining these approaches, the main part of the chapter explores the conceptual and methodological challenges associated with defining and measuring ‘harm’, including environmental harm. The purpose is to raise issues and provide a background framing for the analysis of eco-justice concerns in subsequent chapters.

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The main focus of this chapter is to explore how environmental harm is constructed in relation to humans. Environmental justice refers to the distribution of environments among peoples in terms of access to and use of specific natural resources in defined geographical areas, and the impacts of particular social practices and environmental hazards on specific human populations (e.g. as defined on the basis of class, occupation, gender, age, ethnicity). In other words, the concern is with matters of social justice in relation to environmental harm. The chapter explores social patterns of risk and harm pertaining to human populations, and the physical location and scale of environmental harm within particular geographical contexts.

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This chapter provides analysis of environmental harm, ecocide that is directly linked to specific eco-systems. The notion of ecological justice refers to the relationship of humans generally to the rest of the natural world, and includes concerns relating to the health of the bio-sphere, and also the plants and creatures that inhabit the biosphere. The main concern of the chapter is with the quality of the planetary environment (that is frequently seen to possess its own intrinsic value) conservation, preservation and the rights of other species (particularly animals) to live free from torture, abuse and destruction of habitat. It is argued that which eco-systems and bio-spheres are privileged or valued above others is an important consideration in critical evaluation of environmental harm as this pertains to ecological justice.

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This chapter considers matters pertaining to animal rights and animal welfare. More specifically, it deals with the concept of speciesism. This refers to the practice of discriminating against nonhuman animals because they are perceived as inferior to the human species in much the same way that sexism and racism involve prejudice and discrimination against women and people of different colour. The chapter examines questions such as which species are threatened, Illegal wildlife trade and why some species are favoured by human communities and some are non-valued. How harm to animals is conceptualised thus very much depends upon the perspective one has on the ontological status of animals, the endangered species (their essential ‘nature’ or ‘being’), and how one views the relationship between humans and nonhuman animals.

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This concluding chapter begins with the observation that when dealing with environmental harms described and examined in this book, there are tensions both within and between the three approaches to justice. The chapter discusses how in their extreme versions, the weighing of certain elements within the particular approaches skew the moral compass in certain directions: for example, toward an environmental justice that is ssocially exclusive to specific oppressed human communities and downplays or ignores ecological inclusion and species interests; an ecological justice that pprioritises places over people and sacrifices specific community interests for the sake of ecocentric conservation ideals; and a species justice that hold the rights of animals over those of human need and the requirements of specific biocentric environments. The chapter attempts to grapple with these tensions by illuminating key dilemmas and identifying possible pathways for their resolution.

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This introductory chapter observes that whereas social harm is generally defined in terms of human needs, rights and being, the subject matter of the present work is concerned with the nonhuman as well as the human. To approach and appreciate this demands a different kind of analytical framework than usually provided within the social harm literature. The chapter explains that at the core of the book lie three interconnected justice-based approaches to environmental harm, pertaining to humans, eco-systems and animals. These approaches are the main components or elements that together constitute a broader eco-justice perspective.

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Leading green criminologist Rob White asks what can be learned from the problem-solving focus of crime prevention to help face the challenges of climate change in this call to arms for criminology and criminologists.

Industries such as energy, food and tourism and the systematic destruction of the environment through global capitalism are scrutinized for their contribution to global warming. Ideas of ‘state-corporate crime’ and ‘ecocide’ are introduced and explored in this concise overview of criminological writings on climate change. This sound and robust application of theoretical concepts to this ‘new’ area also includes commentary on topical issues such as the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement.

Part of the New Horizons in Criminology series, which draws on the inter-disciplinary nature of criminology and incorporates emerging perspectives like social harm, gender and sexuality, and green criminology.

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This introductory chapter provides an overview of the concept of Climate Change Criminology. Climate Change Criminology rests upon the four pillars of crime and harm; global connectedness and ecological justice; causes and consequences; and power and interests. These are separate but inextricably linked domains of analysis, interpretation, and critique. Each area demands novel ways of thinking about the problem, employing methods and approaches that necessarily push the boundaries of contemporary criminological theory and the purview of modern criminal justice institutions. In several important respects, Climate Change Criminology parallels work which focuses on ‘social harm’ as a constitutive concept. What makes a social harm ‘social’ is the fact that it does not stem from natural causes; it is intrinsically caused by humans. Analysis and response to this is central to the project of Climate Change Criminology.

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