Crime Against the Environment Preventing Sustainable Development

The constituent of the environment comprises of plants, animals and the ground that supports these forms of lives. Today with the world giving monetary value to more and more protected species of plants and animals in the black market. The exploitation of the elements of the environment in an illegal and destructive manner has become a problem concerning all the nations rich in the elements of the environment. Sustainable development is an engine put in place that helps us use the resources available in manner that will permit our future generations to also benefit from the same natural resources of the environment. Due to the greed of certain individuals, their love of money is greater than the protection of the environment we are living in so they do all sorts of traffics of illegal business.

With this increasing rate of crime against the environment, the UNEP have put in place a Rapid Response Assessment that carries studies and collect data and also carry out analysis to the problem of crime against the environment and how it affects sustainable development.

Environmental crimes and sustainable development

Environmental crimes involve a large number of flora and fauna found mostly in countries of developing economy who usually have poor security measures. An estimate of $ 70 to 213 billion is lost annually in the traffic of illegal flora and fauna which is above the annual envelope of assistance given to developing countries. This tells us that these criminal activities on the environment deprive developing countries from billions of dollars that would serve for the sustainable development of the countries.

A country where the wildlife is destroyed due to trafficking of its wildlife is deprives the country from attaining sustainable development and also to meet up with environmental sustainability because wildlife is part of the ecosystem and sustainable development aims at preserving this ecosystem.

Criminal behavior preventing sustainable development

Criminal behavior towards the environment can be associated to the behavior of those who traffic endangered species, companies that dump their waste into drainage systems and even those that pollute the air by realizing huge amount of greenhouse gases and sewage. Criminal behaviors that arise against the environment is caused by the needs people have, this is to say that when an animal species like the elephant who is hunted and killed by a hunter in order to obtain the tusk of that elephant so that he can sell it to the market that requires the tusk for the purposes to make jewelries, decoration of homes and medicinal needs. If this needs where non-existing, the hunter wouldn’t have developed the criminal behavior against the elephant reducing its population and destroying the ecosystem in tie with development

Industrialization and technology utilizes raw materials such as iron, silicon, copper, gold, diamond, titanium, oil and gas for the manufacturing of devices that dominate our societies today. The various devices brought by new technology we the planes, satellites, telephones and cars just to name a few.  These are needs in demand and utilized every day and the raw materials needed for their manufacturing are found as ores associated with rocks. When a company decides to move into the exploration and exploitation of these raw materials, the whole process makes them develop criminal behaviors against the environment. Since most of mineral resources are found in forest areas, the company destroys this forest with caterpillars to gain access to the site, destroying the forest is a crime prevents sustainable development.

In the same like manufacturing and processing companies like oil companies and cement companies together with companies that generate electricity from coal release huge amounts of greenhouse gases that pollute the air for plant and animals and causes global warming. With the knowledge of all the negative effects these companies cause against the environment, their criminal behavior keeps growing because the society’s demand for their products also keeps growing.

Criminal behavior in relation to money

Criminal behavior towards the environment is in many cases triggered by poverty (the need for money) by those who carry out the activity. Nowadays, illegal wildlife trade which is a criminal behavior against the environment is believed to be one of the actions that can bring down all the efforts of conservation that have been built over the past decades. Apart from habitat destruction that threatens most species, poaching of animals comes as second in the world and that is why the World Wild Foundation (WWF) makes the criminal behavior of hunting endangered species their first priority.

International networks exist that deal with the trafficking of wildlife from the animal parts like poaching of elephants to get their ivory is well known as well as the poaching of tigers to get their bones and skins, poaching of crocodiles whose skin is used as raw material for the manufacturing of bags and shoes, we also have the maritime turtles and many other animals that are poach. The poor gets the courage and criminal behavior to poach these animals because of the money given to them by those who needs the plants and animals and the more rare a specie is the more money is made from poaching the specie for a given part. This is exemplified by the Rhino horn traffic in South Africa where 1,054 where recorded to be killed in order to purchase their horns and this makes up 6% of the Rhinos population in South Africa and equals the birth rate. These criminal activity therefore disrupts the ecosystem and hence the environment.

Environmental factor

The organisms that make up the ecosystem can be affected by factors that could be biotic or abiotic and such factors are called eco-factor or ecological factors or environmental factors. Environmental factors classed under abiotic factors will include the quantity of sunlight, the temperature of the surrounding and the pH of the water and that of the soil the ecosystem lives in. Biotic environmental factors includes the organisms both plant and animals that we can meet that form the diversity of the ecosystem and include scavengers, primary producers, predators, prays and parasites.

The change in abiotic factors in which the biotic factor is found consequentially affects the biotic factor since an environmental factor has been changed.

Change of environmental factor pH by man’s activity

Are we been criminals against the environment? I guess the answer is yes. Sustainable development being the maintenance of the environment as we met it for the future generation to enjoy the abundance of the environment, sustainable development faces many challenges because industrialization has led to the search of natural resources and the demand of energy and most of the processes that generates these products also generate unwanted substances into the environment. These changes the abiotic environmental factors by changing the pH of the environment for example mining causes acid mine drainage most especially the mining for gold that releases sulfides of iron and other metals that forms sulfuric acid when the mine tailings are washed away by rain into river and streams.

The action is a crime against environmental factors as it changes the habitat of the aquatic organism found there and other biotic factors that use the water for drinking and other activities.

Change of the environmental factor Temperature

There have being an alarming increase in ambient temperature since the last 60 years more than recorded in the past. This is certainly due to the large scale addition of greenhouse gases like CO2 on one hand and the destruction of the forest that eliminates or that serves as a natural sink to this gas on the other hand. The result of this actions result to a total increase of the earth’s temperature as more CO2 capable to retain the infrared section of light is available. These causes changes in climatic conditions,melting of polar ice that increases the level of the sea flooding the lands and destroying natural habitats and even the death of many land life.


Types of environmental crimes

There are many types of environmental crimes resulting from different types of activities, the type of crime will depend on the nature of the violation against the environment. Types of crime can come in the form of errors of record keeping in a company that later result to the release of unwanted substances to the environment, criminal act of dumping waste products from the industry illegally into the environment. Types of crimes are of a wide range and just to mention a few we have:


It might not be over looked but littering is a behavior of dumping of our waste products at the inappropriate location. This is a type of crime that becomes really damaging to the environment because when it rains, the constituents that result from littering like plastic bags, bottles and cardboard boxes and paper, gets into the drainage systems of the town blocking them and the result is flooding in that town which is a natural disaster here which is still human induced. In addition to that, the quality of living organisms into which littered products most especially waste electronic products affects the quality of life of the aquatic animals.

Improper waste disposal

This is a type of crime that includes solid waste as well as liquid waste into the environment that can come from our homes, hospitals and a greater part from producing industries. In this type of crime, the used material can generate waste that can be biodegradable or non-biodegradable. Biodegradable waste are those waste that are generally broken down by bacteria, fungi and many agents of the environment putting them in a non-harmful state while non-biodegradable will stay into the environment causing damages since they are not broken down to non-harmful components easily. They can be from biomedical institutes like research labs, hospitals or clinics. They can be from our homes as sewage which mostly in developing countries such waste are not well managed and end up into the environment.

Oil spills

This is a type of crime that is caused by the release of liquid hydrocarbon into the environment due to a miss functioning of one of the systems in a petroleum company. This type of crime is known to have occurred in large scale in the marine environment and it is caused by the activities of man. This type of crime against the environment is also observed on land when tankers cause damages when they burst in the cause of conveying the products (gasoline and diesel for example) of refining from the refinery to the point of consumption.

The damages of petroleum in to the environment are so important that they mobilize a number of countries to come together to remediate its effects are immediate. This type of crime when it occurs in the marine environment, the oil enters into the plumage of birds causing them not to fly and they obviously die. They block oxygen to get into water and the CO2released by fishes to get out immediately changing the environment and causing the death of the fishes. In the case of land, the area affected by oil spills becomes unfertile for the growth of plants and drives away the biodiversity of the area like the insects.

Environmental influences

Speaking of environmental influences towards environmental crimes, it refers to the factors that stimulate the people committing the crimes not to stop committing them. The first environmental influence that promotes crime against environment is

The existence of a market. The traffic of endangered species both marine and land are stimulated by the need of the individuals in search of the products most especially in the case of the animal species. Without the environmental influence of the money from the wildlife market, the hunters won’t be motivated to destroy the environment.

The importance of the materials. Development in any nation follows the need for resources such as iron, steel, hydrocarbons which is an environmental influence that pushes the companies involved in exploitation to keep up with their business no matter the negative impact it has on the environment.

Increase in population. A natural environmental influence causing a crime against the environment that prevent sustainable development is the cutting down of forest to get settlement land. This process destroys natural habitat of other biodiversity causing them to be endangered. Similarly, a larger population requires a more feeding, clothing and shelter and in certain areas in the globe where obtaining these services is done without any regulations, this needs become an environmental influence causing the depletion of natural resources from the environment in such a way they will not be available for the future generation.


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