Preparing for the Storm

There will be protests, that much is clear. Beyond that certainty there is no certainty. When? How big? How long? We just do not know, it is likely no one does.

A mamane tree in the fog atop Mauna Kea
A mamane tree in the fog atop Mauna Kea

As we prepare for the restart of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, those of us whose lives revolve around the mauna can only guess and prepare best we can.

While there is news of plans at the state and county level to deal with the protests, there is little information on the details in those plans. Both sides are keeping their cards close. We are given to understand that the county will be the lead agency it is clear that there will be state support.

Despite having spoken with people who probably know what the date is, I have no idea. All we know is that it will be soon, sometime this month or next seems to be the guess.

There are questions looming in everyone’s minds on both side of the controversy…

How large will the protests be? With the legal appeals completed the protest can no longer make any arguments about waiting until the legal process is over. Polls show public sentiment much more solidly behind construction. It remains an open question as to how many dedicated protesters will show up on the mauna.

A group of puʻu on the NE flank of Mauna Kea
A group of puʻu on the NE flank of Mauna Kea

What will be the official response? Certainly we saw a much more assertive police response to the protesters on Maui attempting to blockade materials being delivered to the DKIST solar telescope. this time there is no question about the determination behind the protests, what will that be met with. What is the willingness to arrest protesters? What will the court do with those arrested?

This last question is important. At some point the rule of law must be imposed or it becomes mob rule. Those arrested will claim they are protesting a legal injustice, a question that has thoroughly been addressed by the State Supreme Court. Protest is an American tradition… Most of those arrested in the first protests were ultimately released and charges dropped. How far does legal sympathy for those protesting their conscience run this time?

All we can do right now is wait. Wait for news that construction equipment and crews are being mobilized. Wait for the first protesters to appear on the mauna. We can attempt to make some plans and preparations, but mostly we wait.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for the Storm”

  1. It will probably be sometime later this summer is my guess. They don’t have any of the necessary approvals from the DLNR and DOH (for the NPDES permit) to start construction yet.

  2. With 2.7 million dollars in the civil disobedience coffers for peppersparay and auto weapons ,the state has the funds to control any mob action.

    I would hope the protests would be civil this time. And no one would be arrested.

    I will be up with them , but showing a positive spin. Happy that the summit will gain a great new scope. Happy to have tmt helping to make our kids better than they can be by them selves.
    Happy for STEM. Happy for science.


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