In Memoriam: Dr. Paul Epstein (1944-2011) Thank You for Your Courage, Brilliance and Compassion

by Amy Larkin

November 15, 2011

Greenpeace offers condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School’s Institute of Global Health and the Environment.  We adored and admired him.

In our world of work, there are a few people who move large numbers of us with their hearts, minds and spirits.  Dr. Epstein was one of those people.  He was ensconced in Harvard and also inspired scores of faculty and staff there with his determination, extraordinary mind, but mostly with his lion-heartedness.

Paul Epstein took on any and all comers as he spoke truth to power:  

  • He created statistical analysis that was rigorous and peer-reviewed.  
  • He used straightforward English to describe complex science.
  • He reached out to insurance companies, social service organizations, big businesses, financial institutions, and to Congress and the White House to express his formidable viewpoint.
  • He took his Ivy League perch and brought it to as many places as he could where it might do some good.

Rather than write more of our words, here are some of Dr. Epstein’s:  

“What can we do? We need to phase out coal rapidly, we need to replace it, we need to transition.  We need to move rapidly with healthy solutions, electric vehicles, plugged in to smart, cleanly powered grids, healthy cities programs with green buildings, rooftop gardens, walking paths, biking lanes, permeable surfaces, open space, smart growth, public transport and connect them with light rail.

These are the healthy solutions that we’ve got to move ahead with rapidly. These are the ones we know their life cycle means more jobs, cleaner air, healthier cities and we certainly hope it’ll help stabilize our climate. Thank you very much.”

We will follow in his footsteps wherever and however we can.

Greenpeace worked with Dr. Epstein last Febuary to help release a land mark study on the true cost of coal of which he was the lead author. You can read our blog on that here.

The New York Times has an obituary here.

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