The Bitter Pill

The environmental problems that Bitterroot Valley faces is sadly a very long list, it starts with toxic wastes pumped into it from the mines, since its conception. It also has a lack of clean water. It has poor air quality, high risk for wildfires, and forest deterioration. The loss of biodiversity is ironically countered with invasive species. To top it all off they are also suffering the various effects of climate change. These problems are absolutely historical in nature, since the town began off of a copper mine and lumber mill. The pollution of industrialization has only been getting worse over time, dramatically more so in urbanized areas, so it is useful to observe the issues facing Bitterroot as a comparative study. In early settlement years we have very few records of who developed what, how they did so, and most importantly why they did it that way. The urbanization of Montana that is happening in our lifetime is a valuable look into the possible developmental stages of other pre-industrialized societies.

These problems found in Bitterroot valley are not theirs to face alone, it is merely a representation of the worlds problems found in one area. In any region you study there are shared effects of the urban burn of humanity and climate change. The mining, logging, irrigation, and agricultural developments that helped to found Bitterroot, is now the poison killing it. These polluting industries are set up all over Montana, all over the world, the repercussions for them will be felt globally as well. Nobody will stop trying to do their job, everyone wants to keep the luxury lifestyle offered to us by modernization, and most of all nobody wants responsibility. If we take a hard look at how we create the society around us, maybe we can think of a way to structure humanity that will not poison everything, including ourselves.

2 thoughts on “The Bitter Pill”

  1. I agree with everything you say but wouldn’t you agree that the biggest cause of a lot of the environmental problems facing Montana today is humankind? The example that comes to my mind is the company that bought The Anaconda Mining Company that isn’t cleaning up the mess caused by that company. I think that since they bought the company they not only acquired all of their assets but also all of their liabilities as well. It should be their duty to clean up the mess that they bought. I will disagree with you on the forest deterioration only because the majority of people who either live here, want to move here, or come for a vacation love the scenery, so I think that the Parks Service tend to try and keep too good of care of the forests when they otherwise should be left to burn and let new life grow.

  2. I agree with the above comment (John Stoppler) to an extent, however certain areas are facing forest deterioration that are out of sight. Some areas are being logged heavily which are out of the general populace sight, hence the issue “out of sight, out of mind”. Take Yellowstone versus 100 miles East of Placid Lake. More people will see Yellowstone then the deep woods of Placid Lake Montana, thus more conscious awareness of that particular area will be monitored than the other. Its not useful to obliterate an entire forest region and keep certain “safe zones” (national parks, local parks, along highways, etc). Population expansion is imminent, instead of building against nature, we may as a society try to build WITH nature. Avoid heavily forested areas and take from forest regions too condensed for the local Eco-system, rather than logging from an entire area itself. This can help clean up forests and distribute the resource pull to multiple areas. Any expansion will however hurt the environment we are changing. Humans are by nature destructive, it is a product of our actions we must be conscious about

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