In Diamond’s Under Montana’s Big Sky, several types of environmental problems that the Bitterroot Valley of Montana currently faces are discussed. These include increasing population, immigration, scarcity and decreasing quality of water, poor air quality, toxic wastes, risk from wildfires, forest deterioration, losses of soil or its nutrients, effects of climate change, etc. These are historical problems in nature, as seen in past societies such as the Polynesians, Anasazi, Mayans, Greenland Norse, plus others (Diamond 32). Even if you look at the history of recent years with forest fires, Montana and nearby states such as California, Colorado, and Washington have suffered from these issues.
The Bitterroot Valley, and Montana as a whole, provides good explanatory models for understanding the world’s environmental issues because we can see several problems in Montana that currently affect other parts of the world. An issue such as salinization, in a form known as saline seep, affects many parts of the world besides the U.S. including India, Turkey, and Australia (Diamond 48). Saline seep restricts plant growth and reduces the yield of the crop. So does the problem of saline seep come from the advances of technology and farmers’ practices as suggested in the text? I personally think farming practices and advanced technology has contributed to the increase in saline seep. Because of crop rotation, meaning there’s no vegetation on the land every other year, saline seep starts to form. If we study the effects of saline seep in Montana as well as other countries that are affected by it, we could start to formulate a solution for the soil quality, such as planting grasses and perennials like alfalfa around the affected area, specifically the recharge area, in order to soak up moisture. Which will reduce the spread of saline seep and eventually make the soil productive again.