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Weekly Roundup: May 31


At the Blog

On Tuesday, William Boyd explained how our broken system of toxics regulation has allowed petrochemical companies to flood our world with novel entities. As a result, there are now an estimated 350,000 chemicals and chemical mixtures on the global market, only a handful of which have been properly tested and only for health endpoints that we know to look for. The culprit, Boyd argues, was the adoption of formal approaches to risk assessment — pushed by industry and embraced by the science policy establishment, EPA, and the Supreme Court — in place of earlier approaches based on precaution, endangerment, and a healthy respect for uncertainty. Formal approaches to risk assessment ensured that no regulation would proceed until we determined exactly how many people might suffer a particular harm from a certain level of exposure, a task that has proven basically impossible. As Boyd notes, even for the most data-rich and well-studied chemicals out there, risk assessments have taken decades and have been unable to deliver the most basic metrics. The consequence is a world awash in toxic chemicals, whose effects on human health are almost totally unknown.

On Wednesday, Zac Taylor continued our symposium on the LPE of Insurance, by taking us to Florida, where insurers, with the help of the state, increasingly rely on external capital to prepare for the possibility of high-loss climate events. As Taylor explains, to guard against “tail events,” insurers rely on insurance-linked securities and similar forms of investor-collateralized risk finance, purchased largely by those in centers of finance, like New York, London, or Singapore. While this approach stabilizes the market in the short-term, it facilitates sustained asset value growth and new development, thereby increasing the overall risk faced by the state in the long run. And, of course, it does nothing to fundamentally reckon with the underlying drivers of the state’s insurability crisis.

In LPE Land

If you’re interested in learning more about home insurance crisis, check out the Climate and Community Project’s awesome blog series on the issue.

Sanjukta Paul has a new paper on “Labor Law, Ownership and the Firm.”

On Digging a Hole, Mehrsa Baradaran discusses her new book, The Quiet Coup: Neoliberalism and the Looting of America.

Over at the Roosevelt Institute, Suzanne Kahn has a new policy report on Investing in Care: Exploring An Industrial Strategy for Care Work.

At the Docket, Sohum Pal reviews Aziz Rana’s The Constitutional Bind. And, if you haven’t already, make sure to check out our symposium on the book!