Survival of the Beautiful

Numerous problems threaten the ecosystem found within the Bitterroot Valley, ranging from logging to mining and the dangers associated.  Many of these issues do stem from historical action, or inaction, that resulted in unnecessary damages and risks both to the land for little reward.  Mining, which once was prolific throughout the Bitterroot Valley, can now be blamed for the releasing of toxic chemicals into water supplies and destroying acres of land that will likely never be reclaimed.  At the time, the potential benefits of the one ounce of gold per 50 tons of ore was worth the damage ensued through the processes.(Diamond, p.40) Even the problems which are arising today could be argued as historical in nature, a result of the leached soils and acidified streams, as is the case for the increased prevalence of disease in wildlife throughout the Valley. (Diamond, p. 55)

No, I don’t believe Montana, even the Bitterroot Valley, offers a good understanding of the environmental problems of the world. From the growing smog above large cities to overpopulation throughout the world, Montana can’t offer an accurate comparison as these issues have only begun to appear here or are still a few years off.  Though it would be wonderful to have a single location to observe and study the environmental changes, there are too many individual factors, making this unrealistic. Montana’s weather, for example, is erratic with snow, a few tornadoes and thunderstorms, but doesn’t have the hurricanes or wind storms. Finally, the mentality of observing, and ultimately preserving, only a few worthy locales due to their natural beauty is a dangerous concept.  It could result in locations which serve more practical purposes, such as larger cities, being environmentally destroyed with little concern since they lack natural beauty, deeming them not worth saving.

1 thought on “Survival of the Beautiful”

  1. In general, I do see where you are coming from in that such a small region, in a highly unique ecosystem, in a very rule state, in a country as vast as this, can’t compare to the densely populated streets of Los Angeles or Tokyo. However I do think there are some areas where a valid comparison can be drawn. Certain environmental truths are evident no matter where you travel across the globe. Use water quality as an example: Understanding how fertilizer in the Bitterroot Valley leaches out of farmlands, into our rivers and ultimately into the water we drink, offers valuable insight into what may be happening around the globe in other farming communities. While poor water quality has many devastating effects here in Montana, imagine the catastrophic results if this highly toxic water source was feeding and supporting a major metropolitan area in a third world country. For that reason, I think it’s very important to examine issues we have locally so we can potentially prevent or at least reduce catastrophic environmental issues where the stakes are much higher (i.e. denser population in a developing country means more potential for loss of life).

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