A few months ago we wrote Religion May Defeat Science in Hawaii, which is all about native Hawaiian opposition to construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, a site scientists believe to be ideal because of its remote and sheltered position, nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano.
The natives believe the telescope site is sacred because that’s where their creation story begins. Unfortunately for them, according to Wikipedia:
[Mauna Kea] is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation. Since the creation of an access road in 1964, thirteen telescopes funded by eleven countries have been constructed at the summit.
The natives regard the Thirty Meter Telescope to be the ultimate insult, and they’ve been protesting and litigating its construction. It’s a classic conflict between science and Oogity Boogity. How dare those scientists defile a holy mountain with their Satanic instruments?
One question occurs to us which is never mentioned — who owns Mauna Kea? Ah, that’s the problem. It appears to be owned by the state of Hawaii, and its use is controlled by some kind of governmental agency — Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan. It’s not surprising that things are confused.
So how’s the controversy going? We found a brief article on the situation at PhysOrg: After 44 days, hearings end for giant telescope in Hawaii.
Forty-four days? That’s longer than the Kitzmiller trial! What were they talking about all that time? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Long-running hearings for whether a giant telescope can be built atop a Hawaii mountain have wrapped up. State Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesman Dan Dennison says testimony ended Thursday after 71 people testified over 44 days on the Big Island. The hearings officer will recommend whether the land board should grant a construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
M’god — 71 witnesses! Then we’re told:
Testifiers included Native Hawaiians who believe the project will harm cultural practices and Native Hawaiians who believe it will provide educational opportunities. The state says it spent $225,000 on the hearings.
That’s not too much to pay for 44 days of babbling. This is the rest of the article:
This round of contested-case hearings is necessary after the state Supreme Court invalidated an earlier permit issued by the board. Telescope officials plan to build in the Canary Islands if they can’t build in Hawaii.
So there you are. We’re left in suspense. Will the infernal instrument be built on the holy mountain, or will the natives prevail? If the mountain were privately owned, the decision would be up to the owners. But in this case the owner is the state, and its functionaries have the impossible task of making everyone happy while clinging to their jobs. Whatever they decide will probably be appealed. Isn’t this fun?
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