Craig publishes new research on origins of cholera pandemics and climate change

New research by University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Robin Craig explores scientific debates about the origins of cholera pandemics and their implications for climate change adaptation.

Craig’s article, “Cholera and Climate Change: Pursuing Public Health Adaptation Strategies in the Face of Scientific Debate,” was published this month by Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy. It is available for download on SSRN.

Craig was inspired to research the topic because of her personal interest in a hypothesis that cholera pandemics start with changing ocean conditions.

Professor Robin Craig

“Specifically, the article looks at various cholera adaptation/resilience strategies and emphasizes that the first steps (public health measures communities should have regardless) can be undertaken without regard to how cholera epidemics get going,” said Craig.

The origins of cholera pandemics are of interest as the disease continues to affect many people in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, in the past 200 hundred years, and estimated seven cholera pandemics have killed millions across the globe. Advancements in medicine have reduced the disease’s strong hold, and water treatment systems have eliminated cholera in many developed countries. The disease remains a problem in parts of the world where people don’t have access to clean drinking water.

In addition to her recently published research, Craig was also instrumental in organizing a recent conference in Salt Lake City earlier this month with several University of Utah partners titled “Re-Valuing the Ocean.”

Author and notable coral reef ecologist Jeremy B.C. Jackson spoke at the College of Law and Natural History Museum of Utah on Feb. 14 as part of the event, followed by an interdisciplinary program hosted at the College of Law on Feb.15.

The two-day symposium aimed to connect prominent ocean thinkers across multiple disciplines. Participants explored the oceans’ centrality to global well-being, examined the ocean as a cultural object, and illuminated the oceans’ importance for both academic and popular audiences.

“Several students from around the University of Utah were in attendance. I think one of the best side effects of the conference was that faculty and grad students here at the U with interests in the ocean got to meet each other,” said Craig of the conference.

Craig, the James I. Farr Presidential Endowed Chair of Law at the College of Law, researches the law and policy of “all things water,” including water rights, water pollution, and ocean and coastal issues, as well as climate change adaptation, the intersection of constitutional and environmental law, and the food-energy-water nexus. She has authored, co-authored, or edited 11 books, 21 books chapters, and over 100 articles in both law and scientific journals.