Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project

Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project
Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope, foreground, gather for a rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Thursday, July 25, 2019, as opponents of the telescope gather across the street. Supporters said the giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, as protesters blocked construction for a second week. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

A giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, supporters said as protesters blocked construction for a second week.

An international consortium plans to build the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope at the top of Mauna Kea, which some Native Hawaiians believe is sacred. The Hawaii Supreme Court last year ruled the project had a valid permit, clearing the way for construction to begin after a decade-long battle.

Opponents of the telescope have gotten more attention than supporters as they have blocked a road for 11 days to prevent construction crews from starting their work. The protesters say building another telescope on a peak that already has 13 observatories will further desecrate the mountain on the Big Island.

Last weekend, 2,000 people joined the protest camp. Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson visited the protesters this week to declare he stood with them.

But supporters also are impassioned about why they believe the telescope belongs on Mauna Kea, which has the best conditions for viewing the night sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

The telescope is expected to allow astronomers to peer back some 13 billion years in time to shortly after the Big Bang. It's expected to help astronomers determine whether life exists on planets outside the solar system and better understand fundamental concepts like gravity.

Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project
Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope, foreground, gather for a rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Thursday, July 25, 2019, as opponents of the telescope wave flags across the street. Supporters said the giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, as protesters blocked construction for a second week. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Chad Kalepa Baybayan, a Native Hawaiian expert in the traditional art of using the stars, weather and birds to navigate the seas, said astronomy advances human knowledge.

"I've heard the comment that the protesters want to be on the right side of history. I want to be on the right side of humanity. I want to be on the right side of enlightenment," Baybayan said.

He said people have to learn to share the mountain and there was more than enough space for everybody. Baybayan said he views the summit as a spiritual place but not a sacred one.

The are substantial, particularly in a state heavily reliant on low-paying service industry jobs in the tourism business.

Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project
Astronomers Alan Stockton, center, holding a sign saying "Built It!," and Alan Tokunaga, left, join a rally in support the Thirty Meter Telescope outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Supporters said the giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, as protesters blocked construction for a second week. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

The Thirty Meter Telescope is projected to create 300 union construction jobs during its eight- to 10-year construction phase. It's expected to employ 140 employees when operational.

Hawaii will lose its status as a world leader in astronomy if the telescope isn't built, said Bob McLaren, the director of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. Existing telescopes may not want to upgrade facilities and make further investments, and it could lead to a downward spiral for the field, he said.

Hawaii would lose employment in science, math, engineering and technology fields, forcing residents with such interests and careers to leave home for work, supporters say.

Having one of the most significant scientific facilities in the world is an incredible opportunity, McLaren said.

Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project
Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope gather for a rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Supporters said the giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, as protesters blocked construction for a second week. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

"People need to think really hard about exactly why they would want to pass that up. What is it that makes it worth passing that up?" McLaren said.

About 100 to 150 supporters of the telescope gathered for a rally in front of the Hawaii State Capitol during the evening rush hour. They held signs with messages like "Support Culture and Science" and "Move Forward Not Backward" and waved at passing cars. Some drivers honked back in support.

"I'm a strong supporter of the advancement of science and technology. I think it brings a lot of good to humankind," said retired Navy researcher Tom Strickland. He held a sign that said "In Search of Knowledge" with a drawing of Mauna Kea.

About an equal number of people opposed to the stood on the other side of the street, waving upside down Hawaiian flags and signs saying "Protect Mauna Kea." Drivers supporting the opponents honked too.

Hawaii telescope protests draw supporters to defend project
Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope, gather for a rally outside the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Supporters said the giant telescope planned for Hawaii's tallest mountain will enhance humanity's knowledge of the universe and bring quality, high-paying jobs, as protesters blocked construction for a second week. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

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Jul 26, 2019
That 30m 'scope may just find a new home close by for earthlings....US. Yeah! Folks like those demonstrators that want to stop our species quest for a new home that one day we are going to need to survive. OK! Not everybody will be able to go, and the place we pick to go TO may have problems or/and issues of its own.

Failure to do this 'scope will guarantee failure in the short term of imaging exoplanets. This will set our species back for a time period that may be crucial.

A recent quake in Nepal caused the Himalayas to DROP 3FT!!!?. This means the plate subducting under it may either be rupturing, or maybe underneath far enough to melt and sink toward the mantle. All could be VERRRY BAD news for China if suddenly a rip in the planet forms just east of their home overpopulated regions and literally burns them all alive in a sea of lava from the immense 600 mile long and 100 mile...and growing volcano and caldera that will gobble up western China and fry what is left.

Jul 26, 2019
Funny thing: demonstrations *against* something always seem to outnumber demonstrations *for* it. I wonder why that is?

Jul 26, 2019
Only time will tell if sinking of the Himalayas accelerates. We do not have another model now or in the past that would give us a clue except mountains only grow sooo high. Even in Michigan in glacial times, the weight of the ice depressed the old plain into a basin that is rebounding into a batholith gradually rising. Probably work itself out like vibration damping. Himalayas are different, and Andes has subduction too but not as high yet. No one really knows how high mountains can get over a small area. Olympus Mons on Mars is over 50,000 feet but on an enormous base.

This problem is not of mankind's making, but we are going to have to deal with it just the same. We better start by building true rotating space stationis that we can actually live on. We already have the plans. Stephen Hawking warned us about problems on our own world that may make us want to seek another planetary home, or a home IN space.

Jul 27, 2019
The land is sacred land and belongs to the indigenous people who are protesting. It's their land. Why should anyone think they have the right to construct something on land that's already spoken for? That's the problem. This is a taking and the indigenous community is not in agreement with the taking.

Jul 27, 2019
The land is sacred land and belongs to the indigenous people who are protesting. It's their land. Why should anyone think they have the right to construct something on land that's already spoken for? That's the problem. This is a taking and the indigenous community is not in agreement with the taking.


Most Hawaii people support the telescope. It is just a loud minority that disagrees.

https://www.unive...lescope/

Jul 27, 2019
The land is sacred land and belongs to the indigenous people who are protesting. It's their land. Why should anyone think they have the right to construct something on land that's already spoken for? That's the problem. This is a taking and the indigenous community is not in agreement with the taking.

Sorry, but you're operating from ignorance here. The situation is far more complex than you seem to think (and I'm writing a few miles from the protest site, know some of the protestors, have spent much of my life on Mauna Kea, know many astronomers. . . .).

The land claims are so general as to be useless, and are based entirely on the somewhat hidden agenda of restoring the Hawaiian Kingdom. The protest leaders believe the summit area is "crown land," and that's the only basis for their claim.

I'll just point out that their assertions of environmental damage are laughably easy to debunk.

Read this: https://dlnr.hawa...osal.pdf


Jul 27, 2019
There is a place, with the most luminous view of heaven.
It's called the Vatican.
Build it there.

Jul 27, 2019
There is a place, with the most luminous view of heaven.
It's called the Vatican.
Build it there.

There's already an observatory within the Vatican.

And before you trot out another misleading trope, there's also one on Mt. Fuji.

Jul 28, 2019
^^^^^
Stupid much.

Jul 29, 2019
How are these stone-age people and their mythology ANY different from Catholics in the 16th century? It's ridiculous to stall, cancel these projects for them.

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