Climate, Society and Elemental Insurance : Capacities and Limitations book cover
1st Edition

Climate, Society and Elemental Insurance
Capacities and Limitations

ISBN 9780367743864
Published June 24, 2022 by Routledge
248 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In this book, world-leading social scientists come together to provide original insights on the capacities and limitations of insurance in a changing world.

Climate change is fundamentally changing the ways we insure, and the ways we think about insurance. This book moves beyond traditional economics and financial understandings of insurance to address the social and geopolitical dimensions of this powerful and pervasive part of contemporary life. Insurance shapes material and social realities, and is shaped by them in turn. The contributing authors of this book show how insurance constitutes and is constituted through the traditional elements of earth, water, air, fire, and the novel element of big data. The applied and theoretical insights presented through this novel elemental approach reveal that insurance is more dynamic, multifaceted, and spatially variegated than commonly imagined.

This book is an authoritative source on the capacities and limitations of insurance. It is a go-to reference for researchers and students in the social sciences – particularly those with an interest in economics and finance, and how these intersect with geography, politics, and society. It is also relevant for those in the disaster, environmental, health, natural, and social sciences who are interested in the role of insurance in addressing risk, resilience, and adaptation.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Contributors


Chapter 1. Introduction

Kate Booth

Section I. Earth

Chapter 2. Insurance and geoengineering: From the delusional to the terrestrial?

Lauren Rickards

Chapter 3. Indexing the soil

Olli Hasu and Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen

Chapter 4. Renaturalising sovereignty: Ex-ante risk management in the Anthropocene

Kevin Grove

Section II. Water

Chapter 5. Stopping the flow: The aspirational elimination of cross-subsidies in the United States and the United Kingdom

Rebecca Elliott

Chapter 6. After the flood: Diverse discourses of resilience in the United States and Australia

Chloe Lucas and Travis Young

Chapter 7. Flood insurance: A governance mechanism for supporting equitable risk reduction and adaptation?

Mark Kammerbauer and Christine Wamsler

Section III. Fire

Chapter 8. Between absence and presence: Questioning the value of insurance for bushfire recovery

Scott McKinnon, Christine Eriksen, and Eliza de Vet

Chapter 9. Is fire insurable? Insights from bushfires in Australia and wildfires in the United States

Kenneth S. Klein

Chapter 10. Fire insurance and the ‘sustainable building’: The environmental politics of urban fire governance

Pat O’Malley

Section IV. Air

Chapter 11. The relational urban geographies of re/insurance: Florida hurricane wind risk and the making of Singapore’s catastrophe finance hub

Zac J. Taylor

Chapter 12. Emotions and under-insurance: Exploring reflexivity and relations with the insurance industry

Nick Osbaldiston

Chapter 13. Insure the volume? Sensing air, atmospheres and radiation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Christine Eriksen and Jonathon Turnbull

Section V. Big data

Chapter 14. The uncertain element: Personal data in behavioural insurance

Maiju Tanninen, Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, and Minna Ruckenstein

Chapter 15. Insurance, insurtech, and the architecture of the city

Liz McFall

Chapter 16. Conclusion: Deconstructing the dualisms of elemental insurance

Chloe Lucas


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Kate Booth is a human geographer, specializing in the field of critical insurance studies. She is particularly interested in the economic and social geographies of insurance in a changing climate, and implications for inequality and inequity. Kate has also worked on projects looking at sense of place, and the role of arts and culture in urban regeneration. Her work is published in journals such as Progress in Human Geography, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, Urban Studies, and Qualitative Inquiry.

Chloe Lucas is a human geographer at the University of Tasmania. A communications specialist, she began her career making documentaries about science and landscape history for the BBC. Chloe’s research explores the values and experiences underlying different social responses to climate change, and identifies pathways to more empathetic and inclusive climate conversations. Her recent work focusses on how communication and cultural context drives social adaptation to extreme weather events, and can be found in journals including Climatic Change, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, Geographical Research, and WIRES Climate Change.

Shaun French is an Associate Professor in Economic Geography at the University of Nottingham. He focuses on the geographies of economic practice and knowledge, specifically financial services and money, socially responsible investment, and financial centres. As part of the University’s Rights Lab, he is developing new work on debt, vulnerability and anti-money laundering.