‘Multicolored’ green criminology and climate change’s achromatopsia


While green criminology may be an effective name or label for the sub-field or perspective within criminology that considers a wide range of environmental issues, it is, in reality, a ‘multicolored green’ – a criminology that engages a spectrum of issues, that reflects the interests of some racial groups more than others, that reveals and analyzes environmental harms which disproportionately impact some racial groups more than others, and that can be approached from a number of vantage points or that can be viewed with variously tinted lenses. This article begins with an overview of climate change, including a discussion of its anticipated impacts and indicators of its already-being-felt effects. It then offers some general comments on the disproportionate impact of environmental threats and harms before turning to a discussion of the present and anticipated distributional impacts of climate change. Here, this article argues that climate change is, in effect, achromatopsic – it is color-blind, in that it affects us all regardless of skin color – but that those impacts will be distributed unevenly/unequally and that various groups are and will continue to be in different positions to adapt to climate change. This article concludes by suggesting that while the environmental harms caused by climate change are real – and the risks and threats they pose tangible and serious – climate change presents an exciting challenge for our creative potential as humans. In the process of reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and stabilizing (or, better yet, reducing) our greenhouse gas emissions, we might better assist those geopolitical regions most at risk (i.e. poor, developing countries) to become more resilient – an approach that is necessary for both the physical health of the planet and the prospects for social justice.