By Paul R. Epstein
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Extra info for Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It
One significant encounter occurred in a classroom in an eleven-story brick building at the Harvard School of Public Health. There, Richard Levins stood at a blackboard, speaking quickly and sketching a diagram as a small group of graduate students, most from or with experience in developing countries, leaned forward in our seats and focused intently. Levins was and still is a professor of population sciences at the school. A self-described ex–tropical farmer turned ecologist, biomathematician, philosopher of science, and political theorist, Levins was one of the founders of modern ecology.
Women tended the cooking fires, and the air was infused with the sweet scent of burning acacia. We lived nearby, and from our cement house we could hear batuki (drumming) well into the wee hours on the weekends. FIGURE 3. Adrienne (Andy) Epstein interviews a father and son in the emergency room at the Central Hospital of Beira, 1978. She was performing triage—treating some patients then and there, admitting others to a hospital bed, and sending others to an outpatient clinic. (Photo by Paul Epstein) I was soon appointed chief of medicine at the Central Hospital of Beira, and I set about working with the thirty other international doctors and one dentist.
His eyes were sunken, his gaze terrified. He was clearly near death. Three months earlier, I had arrived in Beira with my wife Andy (short for Adrienne), who’s a nurse, and we had begun caring for patients in the city’s Central Hospital. Beira is a major port city in southeastern Africa and Mozambique’s second largest urban center. It lies some seven hundred miles north of Maputo, the capital, in a flood-prone rice-growing region on the Mozambican coast. Although it is not a spectacular city, it does have its share of natural beauty, with long, curving white sand beaches rimmed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.