The disappearing land

Coastal land loss and environmental crime

Authored by: Lieselot Bisschop , Staci Strobl , Julie Viollaz

Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138633803
eBook ISBN: 9781315207094
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter draws on a case study of the Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana (in the southeastern part of the United States) to argue that coastal land loss is an environmental crime both in terms of its causes and consequences. The authors connect their findings to other places in the world that face this fate with disturbingly similar causal dynamics: the Wadden Sea (the Netherlands) and the Sundarbans Delta (India and Bangladesh). Although in Louisiana, canal digging for oil exploration and river manipulation to serve industrial development are legal activities, they also reflect the capacity of states and corporations to use their power to perpetuate significant social harms. From a state-corporate crime perspective, such harms at the hand of elite actors should be considered crimes. The authors put forth that regional-level corporate behaviours have likely contributed more to coastal land loss problems than the often-cited sea-level rise due to global climate change (though this too is a contributing factor). The chapter’s analysis and conclusions rely, in part, on questions asked about perceptions of ecological harm, who is responsible for the harm (if anyone), and what potential solutions might entail.

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