Veteran faculty member to address criminality of climate change

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Ron .


KALAMAZOO—Most people would agree global warming is potentially devastating and costly.

But is it a crime?

An upcoming presentation being held as part of the Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society Fall 2013 Lecture Series will try to answer that question later this month.

Dr. Ronald Kramer, professor of sociology and director of the WMU criminal justice program will address that topic at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in 105-107 Bernhard Center. His talk is titled "Is Climate Change a Crime? Moral, Legal and Political Perspectives" and is free and open to the public.

A significant number of commentators on the issue of global warming use the language of crime and criminality to condemn the continued emission of greenhouse gases by the fossil fuel industry and the failure of the U.S. government and the international political community to mitigate these emissions or plan for a just and progressive adaptation to climate change. Certain legal scholars use concepts like ecocide, the precautionary principle and human rights law to advocate legal action regarding climate change. Using a definition of crime as a morally blameworthy harm, this talk will analyze these symbolic and legal efforts as part of a broader political project to promote urgent action to respond to the profound immorality and violence of climate change.

Research focus

Kramer's research specialty is state, corporate and government crime and his most recent publications focus on climate change from a criminological perspective. He has addressed such topics as the space shuttle Challenger explosion and U.S. violations of international law concerning nuclear weapons and military interventions, including the Iraq War.

Kramer co-edited a book published in 2006 titled "State-Corporate Crime: Wrongdoing at the Intersection of Business and Government." A collection of case studies, it shed light on how the connections between U.S. business and government factored into such high-profile debacles as the downfall of Enron and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.