Opinion: TMT Presents Opportunity to Enhance the World

There are 13 working telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea, making it one of the top observatory sights in the world.

Kim Baxter

There are 13 working telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea, making it one of the top observatory sights in the world.

Driving around Oahu recently, there has been an abundance of up-side down Hawaiian flags and homemade signs declaring TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) to be something that is terrible to the Hawaiian people. But we should all remember that it is an honor to have our state chosen to be a significant stepping stone in the scientific studies of the stars and the last frontier: space.

I understand the Hawaiian people want to protect the land or the ‘aina. I am also Hawaiian and have felt outrage in many other circumstances that affected and abused our Hawaiian land such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. But the positives outweigh the negatives with the advancement of technology, the increase of tourism and popularity for our state, and the increase of jobs needed to support and sustain the TMT operation.

Kim Baxter
More than 10,000 people, some anti TMT stormed the streets for the Aloha Aina Together We Rise Unity March on Saturday in Waikiki according to khon2.com.

With a quest for knowledge, we should be honored to have the scientific technology being initiated on the land of our state. The scientific knowledge that we will gain from these telescopes can be unlimited in our journey to examine the vast unknown. There are a number of telescopes already located at the summit of Mauna Kea that provide education, research, and astronomy for all of the world. The location of the telescopes are ideal because of its dark skies from lack of light pollution which provide great astronomical seeing. The smooth airflow, combined with the high altitude of the summit, allow much clearer images of stars, galaxies, and planets. 

Mauna Kea is considered to be the most sacred mountain of the Native Hawaiian region and culture, but if we can find a way to compromise and have the scientific advancement of TMT along with a peaceful acknowledgement of the Hawaiian community, that would give us the best of both worlds. There must be a middle ground that would allow the telescope being built and the respect given to the Hawaiian culture at the same time.

Not only will the telescope provide knowledge to the human race, but it will also provide jobs for our economy and it will be a massive tourist attraction for people from all around the world to see. TMT which was originally estimated to cost $1.4 billion, will now take some $2 billion to complete, according to nytimes.com. The Thirty Meter Telescope would be completed in 2029, if construction can start sometime next year. 

Over the last couple months protesters on the mountain of Mauna Kea have gone beyond the lawful realm of civil protest methods. There is a legal way and an illegal of protesting in our country. Due to the illegal methods such as building an unpermitted structure, blocking roads, and people chaining themselves to poles, the county of Hawaii has been tasked to use $3 million in overtime for the police department for additional police coverage, according to bigislandnow.com.

For the benefit of all concerned, the best possible solution would encompass an intelligent and peaceful compromise of all the people involved. The financial and scientific benefits to our state are too important to ignore. The leaders on both sides of the argument need to come together for a peaceful agreement that would enhance the progression of technology and bring total recognition to our island state. Yes, the state of Hawaii is known for its beauty as paradise, but we must also reveal to the rest of the world that Hawaii can, and should, grasp the opportunity to become a major force in the scientific community.

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