Big Issues in Big Sky

In “Under Montana’s Big Sky” Jared Diamond lists nearly a dozen environmental problems in Montana today. These issues include problems of toxic wastes, forests, soils, water, occasionally air, climate change, biodiversity losses and introduced pests. He also states that the majority of these problems are the same problems that led to the collapse of many other societies in the past. For example, it is a well-recognized fact that mining causes many environmental issues and has caused lawsuits in the past. Another environmental issue that is present in Montana and the Bitterroot Valley is logging and burning forests. Logging created a controversy in Montana in the 1970’s, which proves that this problem existed in the past. (Diamond, 35-46)

 Montana, especially the Bitterroot Valley, offers a great explanatory model for understanding the world’s environmental issues. It shows that the majority of the problems that Montana is experiencing at the current time are the same problems that led to the collapse of many societies in the past. It also shows that these problems continue to lead to the demise of different societies today, though it might be slower now with the steps we are taking to lessen the problem. As a model, Montana shows both what has happened in the past and what could happen in the future if we do not take steps to lessen the environmental problems that we have today.

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