Measuring the Ecological Impact of the Wealthy: Excessive Consumption, Ecological Disorganization, Green Crime, and Justice

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Date of Publication: May 15

Year of Publication: 2019

Publication City: Thousand Oaks, CA

Publisher: Sage Journals

Author(s): Michael J. Lynch, Michael A. Long, Paul B. Stretesky, Kimberly L. Barrett

Journal: Social Currents

Volume: 6

Pages: 377-395

Ecological disorganization stemming from conspicuous consumption practices is understudied in the social sciences.

In this analysis, we study conspicuous consumption and its implications for environmental sociology, ecological footprint analysis, and green criminology. We examine the issue of conspicuous consumption through the study of items that increase the ecological footprint considerably, that is, through the consumption of “luxury commodities.” Specifically, we draw attention to assessing aspects of ecological footprints of superyachts, super homes, luxury vehicles, and private jets.

Taken together, the construction and use of these items in the United States alone is likely to create a CO2 footprint that exceeds those from entire nations. These results are not necessarily surprising but suggest that excessive consumption practices of the wealthy may need to be reinterpreted as criminal when they disrupt the normal regeneration and reproduction of ecosystems by generating excessive ecological disorganization.

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