By Gregory Glover
Source: Read full article at Truthdig
Thirteen thousand feet above the planet’s surface, forces of the sacred and the secular are locked in an epic struggle. At stake are the rights of an indigenous people and the fate of a crown jewel of world science.
The battlefield is the summit of Mauna Kea, a long-dormant volcanic mountain on Hawaii’s Big Island. Native Hawaiians are putting their bodies on the line to stop construction there of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a massive instrument that would give astronomers unprecedented access to the mysteries of the cosmos.
Many Hawaiians consider Mauna Kea to be sacred ground. They believe that building the world’s largest visible-light telescope atop the 13,803-foot mountain would be a desecration, as well as illegal under state law. Astronomers see the site as ideal for observation of the heavens: Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth, situated in the mid-Pacific Ocean 2,300 miles from any other significant land mass. The skies are clear, the air is as clean as anywhere in the world and the Big Island’s dark sky law keeps light pollution to a minimum.