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Green criminology is a unique theoretical perception and a rapidly developing field of how human behaviour exacerbates the environment. It involves the study of how the environment is harmed through crimes, regulation of these crimes and justice administration. Societies and governments around the world are constantly seeking new ways of fighting these harms to the environment as they threaten human, animal, plant species and the general ecosystem. Harmful environmental activities include water and land pollution, illegal dumping, transporting banned substances such as drugs and radioactive material, unauthorized taking of flora and fauna e.g. unregulated fishing and illegal logging. According to Lanier and Henry, the increase in this nature of crime can be attributed to the increasing problems presented by globalization (Lanier 2010 p.72).
There are four major primary categories of green crimes through which the environment is degraded through human actions. These categories are crimes of water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, and violation of animal rights. Water may be polluted by spilling oil into it while air is polluted by burning fossils. Deforestation is the destruction of forests. There are also secondary or symbiotic green crimes. They grow out of flouting rules that regulate environmental disasters. For instance, governments may break their own regulation, hence contributing to environmental harm. These crimes have harmful impacts on the security and economies of many nations. In some cases, they threaten the existence of people or a country. Green Criminology plays the role of protecting the environment from such adversaries (Lanier 2010 p. 77)
Green Criminology as a branch of criminology has some theoretical debates behind it. One of the theoretical engagements is the traditional criminological perception. In this case, environmental crimes are regarded in the same terms as crimes against a person or property. The offender is punished by using the existing laws. The second theoretical strand views environmental crimes as events which are not defined by any strict laws. The environmental damage is considered as a result of competition between social forces (Martin 2008 p.87). Other Scholars have developed various theories in Green Criminology. Ted Benton argues that both flora and fauna plays a significant role in the human environment and should therefore be preserved. He advocates for anti-capitalism lifestyle and challenges everyone to take the environment seriously. Rob White explains the difference between ecological justice and environmental justice. The ecological justice defines man as a single component in the complex ecosystem. The approach of the environmental justice is harmful in relation to man's-centered ideas. Piers argue that green criminology shares a common ground with both the environmental movements and animal rights. He also argues that humans are privileged in the discussion regarding animal and justice (Peirs 2009 p.1)
Environmental crime is one of the most profitable form of crime, hence it attract many organized criminals. The motive behind environmental crimes is financial gain and has many familiar characteristics such as organized networks, irregular migration, corruption, money laundering and exploitation of the disadvantaged communities. Environmental crime causes loss of biodiversity as well as endangering species through killing for trade. Harmful activities such as use of high quantities of Halogens have led to depletion of the ozone layer. This leads to increased exposure to the harmful UV rays (Lanier 2010 p.123)
Despite the many challenges posed by environmental crimes, it is possible to mitigate them through Green Criminology. Political will and improved enforcement co-operation is required to curb the increasing threats posed by environmental crime. Relevant government departments, parties, enforcement agencies and specialist organizations have a role to play in addressing all forms of environmental crime. Acknowledging that environmental crime as haven to corruption will help in combating many environmental crimes by dealing with corrupt officials. Introducing relevant technology to replace direct human contact in areas involved in natural resources trade can minimize corruption. Inter-governmental organizations should assist nations with high prevalence of crime by providing technical assistance (Lanier 2010 p.148).
In order to protect the environment, governments should enforce environmental laws. Violation of any of these laws should attract heavy penalties and fines. These laws should seek to prevent pollution of water bodies by dumping wastes. The laws should also protect endangered species of Flora and Fauna by prohibiting trade in the endangered species. Substances such as chlorofluorocarbons which destroy the Ozone Layer should be banned.
Green criminology plays a vital role in ensuring that environmental crimes are alleviated by punishing the offenders. Without Green criminology it is evident that both man and his environment are in great jeopardy. Enforcing effective environmental laws and regulation is therefore an important ingredient in reducing environmental harm and protecting the environment.