July 14, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
What a perfect time to go camping. Quickly, before I embark on the road to nature and leave society behind (with my iPhone in tow…), I want to use today’s project as a talking point.
There’s a dichotomy of opinions regarding the environment. It’s not a “love it or hate it” type of dichotomy – more like “care or don’t care“. People who fall closer to the “don’t care” end don’t generally see a downside to pollution, littering or the draining of unrenewable resources. Their focus is elsewhere; it’s on the shorter term, on convenience or time or the bottom line. Those who do care, tend to really, really care. You might picture them chained to trees or toting clipboards with petitions, sporting dreadlocks, wearing hemp sandals and tie-dyed t-shirts. It’s unfortunate that the more public face of this side of the “care/don’t care” struggle is one that isn’t taken very seriously, because the more one considers long-term effects of humanity’s activity on Earth, the more likely one is to see some problems worth caring about. I don’t care what you believe about humanity’s influence over the global climate; I care about what you know or don’t know about ecosystems being destroyed – toxic waste being introduced, biodiversity being diminished, trash piling up, trees coming down, finite resources being taken and not replaced. There are laws both natural and man-made being violated at the long-term expense of everyone (and the short-term expense of most). It’s not just hippies and clipboard-carrying college kids who’re fighting to uphold law and order in defense of the planet we share, and today’s project is building a faction of defenders armed with undeniable legitimacy, knowledge and a long-view.
Green Criminology will be an online journal drawing upon college professors and professional criminologists around the world to discuss environmental law and law-breaking. A multi-media platform for developing curriculum, sharing research and news, and maintaining a discourse on environmental crimes – it’s more than you’re average journal (which makes it an even more special project to me).
We want these harmful acts to be recognized as what they are – crimes. Like robbery and assault, pollution harms people directly. It victimizes individuals, who in many cases, are unaware of what is happening to them (such as the Love Canal dumping), or have no ability to prevent these crimes.
Maybe the Earth can and will defend itself, but rather than allow Mother Nature the opportunity to over-react to our missteps, a little self-assessment, self-correction and self-policing might be enough to spare us from her higher magnitude of backlash. Even if you don’t think humanity is all that significant in the great, big scheme of the global environment, you will perhaps acknowledge the importance of man-made law and order, and stand with those playing by the rules in their pursuit of justice for the rule breakers (especially with stakes this high). If nothing else, this project is helping maintain mankind’s honesty, forcing us to at least play by our own rules, if not by nature’s, and is worth supporting. I hope you’ll do so before July 18.