The Bitterroot Valley experiences environmental challenges that are typical of societies and ecosystems globally, including climate change, toxic waste pollution, biodiversity loss, invasive species and changes to air, water and soil quality. These problems are indeed historical in nature, much of it caused by Montana’s background as a haven for the industry of agriculture and mining; runoff of fertilizer, manure and septic waste from farmsteads threatens to contaminate the environment and the process of searching for valuable metals disrupt the earth and risks contaminating environments around it due to zinc, copper, arsenic and other materials that are byproducts posing a threat to living things when they get into groundwater and soil. It remains a problem to this day because many companies would rather abandon or ignore mines due to excessive cleanup costs, and despite mining being historically part of the state’s identity, it is much less so in modern day due to disillusionment caused by having to pay high taxes in order to subsidize cleanup efforts. Despite being a cornerstone of Montanan history, generations later the inhabitants of the state are now burdened with reaping the consequences that their forefathers ignored.
I do not think that Montana or Bitteroot Valley is an entirely analogous situation to use to compare the other problems found throughout the world with. Although contamination from mining is serious, it is not, at least to my knowledge, an issue that is universally discussed when the topic of environmental responsibility comes up. Montana is also not the best example of environmental consequences as it, like Yellowstone and Wyoming below it, is known for its beauty and being ‘untouched’ despite problems laying underneath, paling in comparison to mass deforestation in the Amazon and the buildup of trash in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It however is a very effective cautionary warning for common people and corporations alike to respect and accept responsibility for their actions, and sadly the epitome human selfishness wanting gains now, with none of the concern for repercussions later. This basic behavior is the behavior aside from denial that threatens the safety of our environment as us as a species.