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Tear of the Mountain

A case submitted by

Bob Chang

I would like to share my mom's climate story, a tale she has often recounted, hoping more people hear it. My mom grew up in a rural village west of Beijing, China, surrounded by mountains. Back to my hometown, there's an old saying: "People stayed by the mountain lived by the mountain; people stayed by water lived by the mountain." As a child, she cherished playing in the mountains, especially after school. With her friends, they found interesting activities throughout the year – picking flowers in spring, catching shrimps and fishes in summer, gathering indigenous fruits in fall, and sliding on slippery roads in winter. What a colorful and flourishing childhood! This is what she misses the most today, not just due to physical distance but also mental separation.  

However, everything changed around her middle school years. The detection of coal resources led to ceaseless mining for profit, causing the mountains to deteriorate. Pollution and contamination became evident through increasing cloudy days. Perhaps people were unaware of the harm or chose not to notice due to egocentrism. Flowers dwindled, aquatic life vanished, and the warmth from machines escalated the weather, eliminating winter joys. Excessive mining caused irreversible damage, forcing evacuations due to the threat of debris flow. Though efforts to revive the mountains are underway, the damage is extensive, leaving behind deep nostalgia.  

My mom seeks places reminiscent of her hometown, but nowhere can replace the unique bond she holds. Nature is indispensable to humans, akin to water for fish. We live and may die for it. Once lost, it will never come back. I share this story to evoke shared sentiment and inspire early action before it's too late.


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