Mauna Kea Protectors Get Assist From the Weather Gods
The protectors of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea are getting a timely assist from Mother Nature.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday lifted the July 17 emergency order that supercharged protests against construction of a giant telescope at the 13,803-foot summit of Mauna Kea, which native Hawaiians consider sacred ground. Ige said the approach of a pair of hurricanes helped convince him to cancel the order.
In the coming week, hurricanes Erick and Flossie are expected to pass close to the Big Island, home to Mauna Kea. Their approach will tax emergency personnel and may put demonstrators in jeopardy.
Ige’s decision is also an acknowledgment of the strength of the protest—as many as 2,000 people have been rallying at the base of the mountain—and the indigenous people’s determination. He visited the protest site last week and found it “instructive … to be able to speak with and talk with protesters face to face. It gave me an appreciation for their passion and commitment.”
The battle to defeat construction of what would be the world’s largest visible-light telescope has been waged for 10 years, led by the group Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu, who see themselves as the protectors of Mauna Kea. In a statement, they claimed “a victory that reaffirms our resolve. Governor Ige has admitted that he underestimated our strength, unity, and broad public support. Our numbers continue to grow and his ability to oppose his own people is becoming less and less justifiable.”
On Wednesday, Erick was a Category 3 storm, tracking south of the Big Island and expected to bring heavy rain and possible flash floods by Friday or Saturday. Flossie, following a similar path, may hit the state early next week. So for now, there will be no more arrests, the Hawaiian National Guard will return to barracks and there will be no new attempts to build the telescope.
Nothing like a hurricane to lower the pressure.Wait, before you go…
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