May, 2015 ~ I just finished up my second “real” recording project. This time the release is a single of a vocal song I wrote late last year called Draw The Line At 13. It came out fantastic and I’d like to thank all those involved with getting it into the light: Alan Ku for playing bass and handling all of the engineering and mixing; Noa Eads for playing drums; Lanakila Mangauil for contributing his chants and inspiring us all; my brother, Evan, for putting together the music video; and James Hill who was first to hear it and convinced me to axe the bridge and rip a solo instead.
Draw The Line At 13
The subject of the song stems from an issue we in Hawai’i (especially in my district of Hamakua) are in the midst of: the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea. The TMT, scheduled for completion in 2021, is expected to be the biggest telescope in the world (it will be overtaken in 2024 by the European Extremely Large Telescope). The mirror alone would span 30 meters (98.4 feet) and the building that houses it would reach 18 stories in height. Scientists would be able to see all kinds of cool stuff with it.
But while that is all is exciting and peachy in science land, down here on the ground in Hawai’i, the TMT is facing major opposition from many factions. The reasons are many and backgrounds are diverse. Some of the main issues people have with the TMT are:
- It would be built on sacred land. Mauna A Wakea (Mauna Kea) is what the Hawaiian (and most Polynesian) people consider the piko – or umbilical – of the world; their spiritual connection to the universe. The summit was traditionally never climbed except by ali’i (chiefs) and kahuna (preists/skilled practitioners) who made the journey only for very strict ceremony and protocol. Think of it like the Hawaiian’s Vatican – a temple of the highest order.
- It would be built on conservation lands. Mauna Kea is home to species that are found only on the summit. Any and all development could prove detrimental to their environment.
- It would be built on an aquifer. Mauna Kea is one of Hawai’i Island’s main aquifers and, while the water table might not be disturbed by construction, the chemicals and waste that the telescope requires will be sitting right above it. The existing telescopes have had several mercury spills already and the TMT would only increase the odds something could go wrong.
- Rubber Stamped Permits. 8 Department of Land and Natural Resources criteria must be met before construction begins in a conservation district. Several of the criteria cannot be met by such a project. That said, DLNR pushed the permits through, ignoring their own rules. There are also pending court cases against TMT that have yet to be resolved.
The main thought behind most arguments is the pure lack of respect the project shows to the people and land of Hawai’i. Once again money is steamrolling the people.
Here is a great video interview with several of the key figures in the movement: Why Block TMT On Mauna Kea?
Currently, there is an ongoing occupation/protest happening at Halepohaku, the Mauna Kea visitor center. The activists have been standing in aloha since March 26th informing visitors, blocking construction crews, and garnering media attention. 31 protesters have been arrested so far for obstruction of the road and trespassing. Even in the face of arrest they held a strong kapu aloha – a strict rule of only treating others with love, respect, and compassion.
Several petitions are making the rounds to ask Governor Ige to halt the TMT project for 30 days until the legality of the project can be reviewed.
I look back through American history and feel so many negative emotions at the way the USA has handled indigenous relations over its lifetime. Genocide, rape, land theft, the overthrow of an entire kingdom (Hawai’i)…. It’s not pretty stuff. If I could change history I would. Changing history is doing the right thing NOW.
I haven’t met an opponent of the TMT who has yet stated that they are anti-science. We appreciate the value it could have to the astronomy community. But it should be done elsewhere. There are already 13 telescopes on the mountain and the people of this island have made enough concessions. It’s time to draw the line. We are calling for it to be drawn at 13.
If you want to get involved, the best thing you can do is spread the word. Hawai’i’s reach is small compared to what it should be so anyone you can inform is fantastic! We are using the hashtag: #TMTshutdown to blast the message on social media. So join the party and ku kia’i mauna! You can also join the Stand For Mauna A Wakea group on Facebook to get updates from those who are keeping watch over the mountain and share your support.