This is a topic we wrote about only once before, when we quoted a news story that said:
Scientists hoping to see 13 billion light years away, giving them a look into the early years of the universe, are facing opposition from Native Hawaiian groups who say the construction site of a new telescope is on sacred land.
The dispute has pitted Native Hawaiians, who believe the telescope site is sacred because it is where their creation story begins, against scientists, who believe it’s an ideal location for one of the world’s largest telescopes because of its remote and sheltered position, nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano.
The proposed project is described in a Wikipedia article about the Thirty Meter Telescope (the TMT), which says:
While construction of the telescope was set to resume on April 2 and later on June 24, 2015, it was blocked by further protests each time. While it was approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the State Supreme Court of Hawaii invalidated the TMT’s building permits in December 2015, ruling that due process was not followed when the board approved the permits.
The project’s current status is the subject of a story at the BBC website: Biggest telescope may switch location. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
One of the world’s biggest telescope projects might be forced to move its location. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was due to be built in Hawaii, but ran into opposition with indigenous groups which consider its proposed site sacred.
In Hawaiian mythology, Nu’u was a man who built an ark with which he escaped a Great Flood. He landed his vessel on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Nu’u mistakenly attributed his safety to the moon, and made sacrifices to it. Kane, the creator god, descended to earth on a rainbow and explained Nu’u’s mistake.
Hambo seems to think Mauna Kea is the Hawaiian version of Mt. Ararat, and the Hawaiian legend is evidence for the Flood. We assume he’s pleased that the native Hawaiians may succeed in driving away the blasphemous science project. Okay, back to the BBC story. They say:
Now the TMT’s board says a site in the Canary Islands, Spain, could act as a potential alternative. The $1.4bn project will enable experts to study the early Universe and peer into the atmospheres of exoplanets. It is one of a raft of big observatories – along with the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and space-based James Webb telescope – intended to serve astronomy into the 2020s and beyond.
Wicked stuff! How dare those scientists defile a holy mountain with their Satanic instruments? They’re trying to learn things that man was not meant to know! Everything we need to know is in the bible. [*Sigh*] Anyway, BBC tells us:
Cloud-free Pacific skies, low atmospheric water vapour and other attributes make conditions at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, among the best in the world for astronomy. The site intended for the TMT was just below the the 4,207m summit of the dormant volcano.
So what? Oogity Boogity is far more important. We’re told:
Opposition to the construction of observatories atop Mauna Kea has existed for decades. To many Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is considered the most sacred of all mountains on the island, with a special connection to their religion’s deities. So continued development is considered a desecration. But others who are against the project cite environmental and conservation concerns.
Gasp! The telescope not only means desecration of the holy mountain, but there are also environmental and conservation concerns. The project is doomed! What’s going to happen? BBC tells us:
Last week, the board of governors met to discuss progress on the TMT project in Hawaii and to consider potential alternative locations. In a statement, Henry Yang, chair of the TMT international observatory board, commented: “The TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Governors has explored a number of alternative sites for TMT. Every site we considered would enable TMT’s core science programmes. After careful deliberation, the board of governors has identified Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain, as the primary alternative to Hawaii.“
We’ll skip to the end, which sums it up fairly well:
The TMT board said it would continue its efforts to gain approval for construction on Hawaii. But if those efforts continue to meet resistance, it’s conceivable that astronomers will have to invoke their Plan B.
So there you are. The righteous forces of Oogity Boogity may drive the godless scientists from Hawaii. If that happens, the infernal telescope will probably end up in the Canary Islands — but who cares? Let those foreigners worry about the scientists. Hawaii will be saved!
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