Construction for the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea, a controversial project for which UC Santa Barbara’s Chancellor Henry T. Yang chairs its board of governors, will remain paused until the end of February following concerns for the safety of workers and protestors at the site.
Hawaii Governor David Ige originally announced that the project would be paused on Dec. 19, giving protesters until Dec. 26 to clear the site or get arrested, USA Today reported. But in a new deal with Hawaii County, made on Dec. 26, protestors have instead agreed to move aside and unblock the access road, Hawaii News Now reported. The protestors will still remain at the site.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said in a letter to protesters that “there will be no attempt to deliver construction equipment to Maunakea anytime soon.” Additionally, he added that “State and County agencies and law enforcement agencies will agree to stand down… there will be no attempt to remove [the] protector’s encampment.”
The project has drawn significant controversy since its groundbreaking in October 2014 and has remained a subject of criticism from Native Hawiians who claim it is desecrating Mauna Kea, believed to be one of the most sacred areas in all of Hawaii, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
The decision to halt construction came from the TMT International Observatory LLC (TMT) over safety concerns for workers and protestors, according to a statement from Gordon Squires, vice president for external relations for TMT.
“The state and Hawaii County have not demonstrated that they are able to provide safe, sustained access to Maunakea for everyone,” Squire said. In the past six months alone, the Hawaiian Government has spent over $15 million on law enforcement for the site, the Star Advisor reported.
Squire also noted that the organization is taking opposition to its project into account.
“We are sensitive to the ongoing struggles of indigenous populations around the world, and we will continue to support conversations around TMT and the larger issues for which it has become a flashpoint,” he continued.
Yang currently chairs the Thirty Meter Telescope’s board of governors, and his involvement faced backlash over the summer from students who opposed the project.
In September, the UC Student Association (UCSA), which is comprised of every UC student government, wrote a letter opposing the telescope and the UC’s involvement in the project.
In December, UCSB’s Office of the External Vice President for Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) and the American Indian Student Association (AISA) brought Native Hawaiian protestors to campus to discuss their opposition to the project and urge students to support their cause.
Despite the announcement about pausing TMT’s construction, Hawaiian elders and protest leaders said they were skeptical about TMT’s decision to pause construction after initially being given a deadline to vacate the area, according to the Star Advisor.
“[Governor Ige] making an obtuse statement that TMT has announced that they’re not coming for a while just doesn’t hold any water for us,” Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a protest leader, told the Star Advisor.
Daevionne Beasley, the EVPSA of UCSB’s Associated Students, called the new announcements a “ploy” to remove protestors from Mauna Kea and clear the area for construction to resume.
“When I had first heard [TMT was] halting the construction, I thought it was a good idea,” Beasley said, who has previously spoken to Yang about his involvement with TMT and is a co-signer of the UCSA letter.
But combined with the fact that protesters have to move their tents to the side of the access road, Beasley believes “the government is trying to push [protesters] out so that [TMT is] able to go in and resume construction whenever they see fit.”
Beasley also believes the protesters’ biggest point of contention with TMT — its location on historically sacred land — can be remedied by breaking ground in a new location that doesn’t impose on “someone else’s indigeneous land.”
“The only solution in my head is to pause all development on the telescope until science is able to advance where [TMT doesn’t] have to build a telescope in an area where it would affect indigenous people,” he said.
Why are we spending millions on a telescope? Let’s start looking at this planet and spend the money here. How about addressing homelessness in Hawaii?
Have you seen Hawaii’s homeless? In my area they are, by a vast majority, drunks, drug addicts and paranoid schizophrenics. They refuse housing or offers for rehab as they don’t like rules. The children’s playground at the local beach park is no longer usable due to their violent outbursts. Trying living in the real world.
I read the initial post and s/he said essentially “let’s spend $ on the homeless here on Earth”. You reply by complaining that the initial response does nothing to address the issue of homelessness (e.g., “try living in the real world.”).
Question: Are you being sarcastic, stupid or a combination? (No need to answer. Purely rhetorical).
You clearly have no personal knowledge of the homeless in Hawaii. Try living in the real world. Shall I send you some pictures of the Maui homeless? Do you really think I am making this stuff up?
Any idiot can drive to the west side of Oahu and get a taste of the homelessness problem in Hawaii. If, as you say, the problem is really alcoholism, drug addiction, and schizophrenia, then programs directed specifically at those issues are far more important than building a telescope. Spending $15 million providing law enforcement to control protest over this ridiculous project is, in itself, criminal. Telescopes are a waste of money. Name one, anywhere, ever, that provide(s) long term “real world” remunerative value to a community.
Uh… all navigation for 100’s of years was done with telescopes, and allowed ships to bring food to people suffering from famine. Saving people from starving is probably to you a waste of money.
The Hawaiians managed to populate those islands without using telescopes. The imperialists who destroyed their culture probably did used them. The Hawaiians they decimated with disease were not starving and certainly did not need food from Europe or North America. Irony is a concept you appear to struggle with.
Uh… changing the goal posts… vast populations in Asia and Africa had their lives saved by shipments of food brought to them by navigation with telescopes. Clearly a real world remuneritive value. Oh… I see… saving non-Hawaiian’s lives doesn’t count in your mind. Well, there is a name for people like you…
$5 trillion or more in the mideast, gone (according to the Washington Post) with no positive effect and with immense corruption… venality in the mideast and misrepresentation in Washington DC. It is a miracle that we ever can plan and build anything like the TMT to study the stars which the vast majority of humankind has been fascinated with since humans looked up. All criticism of the TMT does is enable *all* of our money to be squandered on war.
I completely disagree. Many science projects have been riddled with corruption and mismanagement. Many people have already protested against TMT. Technology advances every few years. Why not retrofit the other telescopes on Mauna Kea and just forget about building TMT! The needs of the people against TMT should not be ignored to justify the egos of a few pretentious scientists. Money should not be squandered on TMT or war…
Actually, TMT already took your advice. Several telescopes will be decommissioned and removed as part of the TMT project… net improvement in site layout… this point is usually overlooked. 100’s of millions of people are intensely curious as to the nature of our Universe, not just a few scientists. War expenditures are vastly greater than those on the TMT… by a factor of 3000 or so. Picking on the TMT but giving a pass to war expenditures shows your real goal, and that of the protestors: stop all curiosity and support killing of other people.
Actually we’ve been building telescopes for quite some time. Enough already. Looking to the stars instead of focusing on our degraded, decaying, crippled planet is idiotic. Trump’s “Space Force” encapsulates this myopic, narcissistic, pit. As for military spending . . . what do you think put us on the moon? Rockets equal ICBMs.
Most scientists oppose space flight involving humans… always been far cheaper to build remote instruments for space exploration, the Space Force, and ICBMs. Union of Concerned Scientists, Linus Pauling, Joseph Rotblat. Indeed focusing on our crippled planet only every produces new Trumps and Putins… it is always science that is the game changer, providing septic systems, better health, better food, ability to travel… a better life for everyone. Once innovation slows and people take over… always back to bullies and con artists.
The infrastructural engineering measures you describe are exactly what Hawaii needs. Lose the septic tanks though–particularly bad in Hawaii. Try “sewage treatment”. So building telescopes will somehow help us turn back the hands of the clock on the cover of the BAS? We need to focus on this planet and the idiots who working to destroy it. Telescopes in Hawaii are a vestige of imperialism. They should all be removed. “Most scientists” can fund another Hubble only get it right this time.
People should also blame the governor of Hawaii, David Ige, for allowing the mad scientists to build another overpriced telescope on a mountain already crowded with crummy obsolete telescopes. The Thirty Meter Telescope could be built cheaper and without drama somewhere else. Hawaii real estate is too expensive to build anything anyways…
People who wish to protest should sign petitions against the Thirty Meter Telescope.
There are two important petitions on Change.org
Look up and please sign on Change.org:
“The Immediate Halt to the Construction of the TMT telescope on Mauna Kea”
“Impeach Governor David Ige”
Telescopes like the proposed TMT are a vestige of imperialism. The same imperialism that ran roughshod over Hawaiian culture. Politicians in Hawaii willing to nuzzle at the imperialistic trough need to be excised and sent to the mainland.
Hawaiian culture was violent and imperialistic too… with forced inbreeding to make strong large warriors. Hawaii was a true paradise until Hawaiian arrived in AD 400. Perhaps you like some imperialists and some imperialism, and some environmental destruction. Better to focus on Pearl Harbor and allow the deal with TMT, which removes several old telescopes.
In 1880, King David Kalakaua said that he wanted an observatory built in Hawaii. I guess whining UCSB students’ views are more important than the those of the leader of the Kingdom.
Hawaiian nobility of his ilk were tools of the imperialists. Kalakaua was a drunk US pawn who sold is people down the river. He wanted whatever his US masters demanded. This is why Hawaii should boot this project.
Them’s fightn words in Hawaiʻi nei
Better check with OHA. ,” but he is remembered most for being the king who brought pride back to the Hawaiian people.
During his reign, King Kalākaua successfully restored Hawaiian cultural practices and traditions”
see Bayonet Constitution
I demand that all telescope opponents immediately stop using cell phones and GPS. There is instrumentation on another sacred Hawaiian peak that monitors solar activity. This information is used to keep communication satellites safe. Don’t be a hypocrite! Stop using devices that rely on this information.
My annus is sacred place!