Not only is Hawaii a sort of paradise, it’s also what seems to be a native and comfortable home for big island telescopes. Since Hawaii is much further away from any light and has minimal air pollution, it’s a perfect spot to look up at the night sky. Right on the island of Mauna Kea lives not one but 13 big island telescopes–soon to be joined by TMT or Thirty Meter Telescope. If it wasn’t already, it will soon be known as an island of big island telescopes. The TMT is already upon as the most advanced ground-based optical, having near infrared and mid-infrared capabilities. This big island telescope is causing much protest despite not even having been built yet.
Hawaiian Natives Protest New Big Island Telescopes Construction
Operation Green Rights is a group that has been cyber protesting the TMT and taking over the Hawaiian government websites with words of protest. This cyber attack actually crashed the Thirty Meter Telescope official website for two hours as it filled with protests against the construction of this telescope on the island of Mauna Kea. The group posted screen shots to the blog claiming that the building of the TMT is promoted with filthy money and boldly stating that there has been destruction of the island ecosystems. The natives of Mauna Kea already feel their island of telescopes have enough telescopes.
Part of the filthy money mentioned in the cyber attack is related to the rent paid to the island. An increase will be as much as one million dollars a year simply for the land that the massive Thirty Meter Telescope will sit upon. There will be more jobs available, as the big island telescopes are likely to employ around 140 people–maybe even more–as construction for the TMT increases, increasing its land use as an island of big island telescopes. These should all be considered good things, yet Operation Green Rights is still not happy. They believe that this will be destroying native peoples’ rights, ruining the cultural significance that is a part of the Mauna Kea Island, and their way of life.
Reasons for Location of Big Island Telescopes
The organization for the building of the TMT reassures the Operation Green Rights group that the placement of such a telescope was chosen at the Mauna Kea Island for the exact reasons they’re protesting against. The placement of the TMT was chosen specifically because of its distance from anything of cultural significance, keeping the telescope in an area where there is nothing that is endangered and the giant scope can do no harm.
Yet the protests continue. The people of Mauna Kea do not want just an island of telescopes. It’s not about typing out an anger online anymore; the protests have taken on a certain art form. There has been poetry written about this disagreement, dances, and even visuals pertaining to this protest. The people of Mauna Kea will continue with their “mele aloha ‘aina,” or protest songs, expressing deep love for the land. Yet, the people of Mauna Kea have also used the cyber attack as a new form of protest.
The Thirty Meter Telescope will take roughly eight to ten years to build and construct. Who is to say that these protests will go on for that long against an island of telescopes. The TMT organization seems firm as to where to place the telescope, but that doesn’t mean the people of Mauna Kea aren’t just as firm.
Mountains are quite a ingenuous place to place big island telescopes. They are removed, remote, high, and beautiful. Enjoy these mountain sights of New Zealand in this stunning visual story: