Contemporary perspectives on environmental enforcement

Nurse, Angus ORCID: (2020) Contemporary perspectives on environmental enforcement. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology . ISSN 0306-624X [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1177/0306624X20964037)

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Arguably, environmental threats constitute some of the most pressing issues facing mankind. Contemporary environmental problems include ‘industrial pollution of the air, water, and land, toxic waste sites, deforestation, species extinction, excessive pesticides use and pollution, climate change, the excessive use of fossil fuels, acid rain, a growing reliance on coal and oil, the environmental effects of drilling for oil or mining coal, the collapse of coral reefs and fisheries and so on’ (Lynch and Stretesky 2014, 11). Tombs and Whyte identify that recent estimates suggest around 800, 000 premature deaths occur from ambient air pollution each year (Cohen et al. 2005) and that ‘most pollution is produced by commercial activity’ (Tombs and Whyte (2015: 49). The frequency and scope of environmental harm and major environmental disasters is such that society is arguably experiencing the birth pangs of an environmental apocalypse.

This article argues that within the context of environmental disasters such as the Gulf Oil Spill, problems caused by climate change and associated pollution events that kill thousands of people each year, and the widespread illegal killing of wildlife, we are heading for an environmental apocalypse. Yet many environmental crimes are not the core focus of criminal justice systems and public concern about crime and safety despite having the potential to cause far wider social harm and a large number of deaths. This paper argues that large scale eco-global crimes are of significance not just because they are crimes that have a global reach and impact on both existing communities and future generations, but also because they affect and involve a range of nation states and different justice systems. By considering these issues, green criminology examines complex issues in criminological enquiry that extend beyond the narrow confines of individualistic crime which dominate criminological discourse and are the main focus of criminal justice policy.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 30828
Notes on copyright: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
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Depositing User: Angus Nurse
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2020 10:55
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2021 04:11

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