I and my colleagues at Environment America are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Paul Epstein this week. We’ve lost a great man; one who has been at the forefront of the movement to confront global warming for more than 20 years.
Whether it was evidence of the spread of infectious disease, or the greater incidence of severe weather, or the worsening of air pollution that comes from a warming atmosphere, Paul was a leader in the effort to bring the health consequences of global warming to the public and decision-makers.
From living rooms to Congressional hearings, from international treaty negotiations to the board rooms of insurance companies, from city halls to classrooms, he delivered the message that we simply must tackle the emissions that contribute to global warming.
Once Paul first focused on the public health implications of global warming, he dug in. The more he found out, the more committed he became. He publicized studies and where the studies hadn’t been done, he took it upon himself to make solid peer reviewed studies happen, right up to the last study he authored; which estimated that the economic, health and environmental costs of coal on society range from more than 300 billion to half a trillion dollars per year.
To me, Paul was a study in contrasts. He was bold in his actions, but humble in his demeanor. He sounded the alarm without being alarmist. He was a scientist and a wonk, but he was also an organizer. He was a primary care physician who ended up taking care of the whole planet. Paul was an inspiration to me and many others. We all learned a lot from him and will work to build upon his incredible legacy.