“Support the TMT — Youʻll Get No Vote From Me”
The entire OHA “Office of Hawaiian Affairs” is a bit of a strange beats. The way it it is set up. The way it works, or doesn’t. It’s objectives, it’s funding, and luck thereof. Objectively, it seems somewhat schizophrenic — with different folks having very different understandings of what it should or shouldn’t be doing, Or if it should even exist.
As the name suggests, OHA ‘Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ does indeed have something to to do with Native Hawaiian issues, yet _everyone_ Hawaiian, Haole, Japani, Chini, Filipi — whatevers — if you are registered to vote in the state of Hawaiʻi, you get to vote in these elections. Doesnʻt really make sense in many ways, but thatʻs how it is.
So what to do? Well the easiest thing is simply not to vote, which is what a lotta folks do. What I started to do a couple of election cycles ago, was to ask around my Hawaiian friends, kūpuna, and people I respect — to see what they say, who they support, and why. As you might guess, the whole ‘affair’ is very complicated.
What emerged for me as a simple way to cut thru all the complexity, is how each candidate relates to the issue of the TMT, and the growing Cultural, Environmental, and Ethical controversy about scientific/industrial hyper-development and appalling lack of responsible oversite and stewardship on the summit of Mauna Kea — Mauna a Wākea. See below for my editorial on this.
Here is a graphic put together by a friend of a friend of mine (thanks Tim Reis!), who passed it forward to me:
So, you can do what you like, cuz I am not gonna tell anyone how to vote, but is how I decided my OHA votes: “Support the TMT? You’ll get NO votes from me.”
My TMT 2 cents:
Astronomy is great. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a special place in my heart for astronomy. But, just cuz you are scouring the heavens for signs of intelligent life _elsewhere_ in the Universe, does not give you the right to trample the earth beneath your feet, or willfully _not see_ intelligent life _right here_ standing before you, telling you not to build your telescope here. No matter how pretty the pictures you might take.
A ‘stellar’ irony to me in this clash of culture and values on the summit of the the tallest mountain in the world, is that in spite of the obvious implications of claiming to ‘need’ a ‘next generation’$2 billion* mega-gargantuan** “eye to the sky” to better see, institutional backers of the TMT somehow ‘fail to see’ how myopic, shortsighted and ‘blind’ they are willing to be to every way of looking at the situation except theirs. Perhaps because Atronomers are so used to looking out, they fail to look within?
* $2 billion is just my rough estimate, but let’s be honest — after all these delays, $1.4 billion, ain’t gonna cut it… and the price tag ain’t goin down, especially if they build it in the Canary Islands.
** The TMT is ginormous. The backers gave it this name, an acronym for Thirty Meter Telescope, referring to the size of the main dish — 30m ~ 100 feet in diameter. It is most definitely not your grandfathers telescope. The main dish of the TMT is so big, it can not be made of one piece of glass – it would collapse under it’s own massive weight. Instead, it was designed as a honeycomb of almost 500 individual hexagal mirrors that fit together into ‘one’ big bucket to capture light from the sky. How big?? An area 1.5 times the area of a Professional NBA Basketball court. So large it needs to be to be housed inside 20 story building — 18 above and 2 below; two levels of basement and sub-basement blasted and excavated down into the summit “double-deep” to create a foundation strong enough to support the facility above. A genuine structural engineering achievement, to be sure. But, this building on the roof of the world would be taller than present zoning allows commercial buildings to be built in downtown Hilo! In the center of a conservation zone, above 40% Earth’s atmosphere, at an elevation almost 14,000 feet! When you step back and think about it, it is not actually difficult to see why this literal sky-scraper might have some opposition to it’s construction. Oh and let’s not forget, this summit is profoundly sacred to the Hawaiian people.
As such it would be bigger than the dozen telescope facilities _combined_ already on the summit of the mauna, several of which are already the biggest telescopes in the world.
So, for the folks who say there is already a dozen telescopes up there, and suggest that since the TMT would only be “one more” so what is big deal? The big deal is, it is bigger than everything already up there.
And so for many, TMT means Too Much Telescope. Reflect on that.