Opinion: The Thirty Meter Telescope: Desecration or scientific exploration?

The recent uproar about the Thirty Meter Telescope, (TMT) and Mauna Kea has spread itself far. All around the world, people connected to Mauna Kea are posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook supporting the preservation of Mauna Kea.

Yet those of who do not educate themselves on the subject, are not getting the full story or all of the facts. TMT is a project that builds thirty-meter telescopes around the world for scientific studies of space. This project has chosen the sacred mountain Mauna Kea on Hawai’i island as its next building ground for a thirty meter telescope and observatory.

The entire project would require five acres on the Northern plateau of the mountain. The five acres of land would be excavated preparing for an observatory. They have plans to build an observatory 217 feet wide and 180 feet tall. The total area including paving the mountain for parking lots would be five acres.

TMT addresses some conflicting views in their website, stating, “The issues surrounding cultural practices and the sacredness of Maunakea are very important, and the TMT is working with the local community to minimize the potential cultural impacts of the Project.”

The local community throughout all of the Hawaiian islands have been actively protesting since the date designated for the ground-breaking of the project. The large plans scientists have for Mauna Kea are shocking. Considering Mauna Kea is an ancient mountain, to preserve the solitude and natural state of the mountain would be in the best interest for the untouched ecosystem that only native Hawaiians understood and held sacred.

Currently on Mauna Kea, there are a total of thirteen telescopes and observatories. For many of the structures, they had to cut off tops of the mountain to make level. Pertaining to environmental impacts, the following are under consideration: a cultural and natural resources training program, an invasive species prevention and control program, a waste minimization plan, a materials storage/waste management plan, and a component spill prevention and response plan, as well as designing the TMT Observatory to limit its visual and other potential impact, and installing a zero-discharge wastewater system at the TMT Observatory. This information and more can be found at Malamamaunakea.org, the website for the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

Although we are in the modern world with science studies in pursuit of finding information about our universe for knowledge for our future generations, we are also living on the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, which used to be a kingdom. It is only right for us to respect the Hawaiian land, culture, and preservation. If we disregard preservation, preservation will always be disregarded, and we will destroy everything sacred all in vein. The people on Mauna Kea are protecting the mountain.