TMT Protests continue

TMT Protests continue

Valerie Hageraats, Reporter

The TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) being built on Mauna Kea is causing huge controversy worldwide. TMT is also a non-profit corporation. The 18 story tall and 1.44 acre telescope will be the largest telescope in the world when it is completed in 2024, although plans for even bigger telescopes are already underway in other places. It will be able to look 13 billion light years away to galaxies that are close to the edge of the observable universe. It’s causing protests in Hawaii and all over the world.

The TMT will be built on the Mauna Kea Science Reserve (MKSR) and will be the last telescope to be built on Mauna Kea.  MKSR land is currently being owned and leased by the University of Hawaii.The project has been through a 7 year process. The funds received comes from many colleges and countries. Some include the University of California, Cal Tech, Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, USA, Japan, India, Canada and China.

Hawaiian people that are against TMT argue that Mauna Kea is sacred and an important place. It is the origin point of the Hawaiian Islands, and has many burial spots on it. Protesters also claim the building will harm the aquifers and therefore the drinking water; however, the TMT website says hydrologists have extensively researched the area and there is no danger of the sort. People arguing in defense make a point that Polynesians (the Hawaiian ancestors) were amazing celestial navigators and would have embraced this new technology. Thirteen telescopes are already up there, from 11 different countries. TMT will also bring money into Hawaii’s economy.

TMT says they will bring 300 construction jobs and 140 permanent jobs, as well as 2 million to research opportunities, financial aid for schools, other programs in Hawaii and also pay rent to the state (beginning at $300,000 and going up to 1 million when the project is completed, according to KITV News).

There has been social media protests, protests all over Hawaii and even other places. Even in Kohala there has been protests. On March 31st, 50 protesters blocked the road to Mauna Kea so construction crews couldn’t get through. On Friday April 10th, UH Manoa made a chain of students and many others so they could take pohaku (stones) from the taro patches on UH Manoa Hawaiian Studies center, and pass them a quarter of a mile to Bachman lawn in front of the offices of the University’s President where they built an ahu (memorial), KHON2 news reported. Recently there has been an online petition people delivered to the Governor David Ige. The Governor also stopped construction from April 7th to April 20th, and then extended it again.

It has affected many of us here in Kohala, and it is still undecided to what will happen. It is very controversial and we will see what will come of it.