Saving Big Sky for Future Generations

“Montana is perhaps the least damaged of the lower 48 states” (Diamond, 30). We are fortunate to live in such a pristine place, however humans have certainly made an impact as Jared explains later in this chapter. Some examples include increasing population, air and water pollution, as well as deforestation and the consequences of invasive species. These problems are absolutely historical in nature, starting with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804 and followed soon thereafter by trappers and traders. With the increased importance of mining in the 19th century, places like Butte have suffered grave environmental consequences. Human history in this area has played a large role in the eradication of species like the buffalo, and an overall disruption of many ecosystems. Ultimately, these disruptions have contributed to climate change, especially metal mining.


I agree with Diamond when he says, “…the Bitterroot Valley presents a microcosm of the environmental problems plaguing the rest of the US” (32). Our largest environmental problems in Montana stem from deforestation and mining. These are two of the challenges also facing all other communities in every corner of the globe. I believe Montana is a great explanatory model for understanding global environmental issues. For a specific example, the Clark Fork River and Berkeley Pit “…is now the largest and most expensive Superfund cleanup site in the U.S.” (39). Despite this, the current owners are dodging responsibility for the damage. More broadly, Montana has over a century of history that indicates the detrimental effect our industrial processes have on the land. Therefore, the rest of the world should be looking at us and our history to help solve climate change.