As Diamond mentions, “environmentally Montana is perhaps the least damaged of the lower 48 states” (Diamond 33). Montana, compared to other states in the US, is not exposed to huge environmental damage; however, they still have some disadvantages caused by past mistakes. Montana’s environmental issues today consist of mainly toxic wastes, forests, soils and water supply. The biggest problem they face is toxic wastes. Metal mining was the traditional pillar of Montana’s economy, and it began in 1860 in Bitterroot Valley. Montana contains about 20,000 abandoned mines that will leak with acid and toxic metals forever. This means that all the mining that has been done in Montana, over many years, has caused environmental problems today. The problems are historical in nature, as they have been around for a long time. Another big problem facing Bitterroot Valley of Montana is the logging and burning of forests that began in 1886. The cutting of the trees made water temperatures rise that damaged the habitats of much aquatic wildlife. Just as with case of metal mining, logging has also been a problem historical in nature, occurring over a long period of time. The soils are also an environmental problem, causing the hot forest fires to arise and sterilize the topsoil. The water supply is one more environmental problem, which is mainly caused by climate change. There is not a lot of rainfall in Montana and the increasingly dry weather doesn’t make it any better.
From my perspective, with how Montana’s appears naturally, Bitterroot Valley and Montana, in general, offer good models for understanding the world’s environmental issues. Everything looks fresh and green, and they haven’t experienced the most urban development compared to other cities in the U.S. With recent urban development, the environment in Montana may see more issues than before. If we should talk about how Montanans understand the world’s environmental issues, I would say that the old-timers don’t have the best understanding. They have grown up with mining, logging and agriculture being a traditional part of the lifestyle of Montana. First and foremost, many residents in Bitterroot Valley are anti-government, and hold the opinion that landowners should be able to do whatever they want with their private property, even though it might hurt the environment. As covered in paragraph two, Montana has a set of environmental problems historical in nature, and these will only get worse with future urban development. The unique quality of life in Montana including the beautiful lakes, mountains, hikes and so on, could be somewhat more protected if anti-government people relented their attitude.