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The rivers died black

A case submitted by


I am a cancer researcher, I live in Houston. I was born in a region of Spain whose economy was based on the coal industry. I saw the impact of industrial progress on nature and this is my story:

During my childhood, as I traveled by train from Oviedo to two mining towns where part of my family lived, I witnessed firsthand how human ambition and what we call progress clashed with nature. Looking out from the window, I saw the once pristine waters of the Nalón and Caudal rivers stained black from coal washing. At that time, no one in Spain realized that the coal powering stoves and driving the development of magnificent steam locomotives— which my father operated instead of descending into the mineshaft— was contributing to planetary heating. Little did I anticipate in my youth that I would eventually reside in Houston, Texas. I couldn't foresee my journey from the coal mines of Asturias to the oil refineries and wells of Houston and Galveston. Today, I'm dedicated to cancer research aimed at enhancing solid tumors therapy. However, the rapid climate change is messing up with our efforts. This global crisis will likely lead to a surge in lung, skin, and gastrointestinal cancers. Because lung cancer is directly linked to air pollution, skin cancer to ultraviolet radiation exposure, and gastrointestinal cancer to industrial toxins and food and water contamination. In fact, the climate crisis, fueled by industrialization and fossil fuel consumption, threatens to make cancer the leading cause of death in this century. Fortunately, I have now witnessed some positive changes in Asturias. The Caudal and Nalón rivers now flow clean and have seen the return of their wildlife, demonstrating that the restoration of life on Earth is achievable if we cease the chemical assault on the atmosphere. Now, my hope is to witness the dismantling of the Houston refineries as they become obsolete, and to gaze upon the horizon of Galveston, the majestic Atlantic Ocean linking Texas and Spain, free from oil wells and tankers. It may seem like an impossible dream, but it's one we should dare to envision.


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