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Environmental activists on Mount Graham, for example, included Earth First!—a group known to directly sabotage construction projects and lead violent rallies—whereas the Mauna Kea protest is taking place “in the spirit of ‘aloha,’” or peace, according to its leaders, meaning the activists do not stand against anyone, they simply stand for their mountain. And for both the TMT and the LBT debates, colonialism hangs heavily over the controversy. In some cases, astronomers have learned from past examples to navigate construction projects more sensitively. Ultimately the matter was settled by legislation in the United States Congress, who instructed the United States Forest Service to issue a special-use permit to the University of Arizona to build three telescopes (the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, the Submillimeter Telescope Observatory, and the Large Binocular Telescope). Hawaii, too, has a long history of Westerners wresting control of land from native Hawaiians and pursuing development projects to the detriment of the environment. Large Binocular Telescope atop Mount Graham in Arizona. President Haeger attempts to obscure the fact that NAU is contributing to the extinction of an … Part of Springer Nature. The spruce-fir summit of Mount Graham is at least 900 acres in extent. New telescope options continuously become available. Telephone from Safford Vicinity: (928) 428-2739 Telephone from Tucson: (520) 621-8650 Fax: (928) 428-2854 Mount Graham International Observatory 1480 W. Swift Trail Safford, AZ 85546. When the University of Minnesota (UM) Board of Regents pledged $10 million to support UM's astronomers buying into the controversial Mount Graham telescope project in 2002, Minnesota was dragged into an international conflict. Astronomers were therefore blindsided when, a few decades later, cultural tides had shifted and they met harsh opposition to the new projects. pp 75-91 | By Eric Burk. “They see what they're doing as progress, as scientific advancement, and certainly not as a regressive act that is aligned with the period of historic marginalization of native people,” Swanner says. Not logged in Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, Model Suggests Toxic Transformation on Venus, Babies' Mysterious Resilience to Coronavirus Intrigues Scientists, Biggest Ever Yellowstone Eruption Revealed. [ 3] I Last week Hawaii’s Supreme Court rescinded the construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an estimated $1.4-billion observatory planned for Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano whose red dusted slopes rise 4,205 meters above the Pacific Ocean on the island of Hawaii. Only about 200 survive. Against this backdrop, the TMT in the view of indigenous people is the latest episode of Western oppression on the islands. These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. The highest mountain in Southern Arizona is Mount Graham (elevation: ∼10,800 feet, or ∼3,300m), which lies approximately 70 miles (110 km) Northeast of Tucson. The wildfire burned more than 48,000 acres. Tippeconic, R. 1989, Record of Decision and Forest Plan Amendments, Coronado National Forest, p. 54. Graham from the mid-1970s to the present. Not affiliated The observatory has had no effect on the squirrels, which under no rational definition could be considered endangered. It was an obvious candidate, and in fact had been considered in the mid 1950’s as a possible location for the national observatory (which went to Kitt Peak). The court’s decision is the most recent battle wound in a years-long contest between astronomers and native Hawaiians as well as environmentalists who oppose the construction because of the sanctity of the mountain. Arizona Press, Tucson. McGee, J. TMT leaders also tried to follow that model. Graham is where the Jesuits admit they are monitoring something approaching the earth. He was 87. Ultimately the astronomy project—and the squirrel, whose fate was unaffected by the telescope—prevailed. They pursued a strategy of finding an endangered species — the Mount Graham red squirrel — apparently with the purpose of blocking the telescopes. A little more than a decade later, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) opened on Mount Graham. ... Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, thus resulting in the failure to immediately and permanently halt the telescope project. LBTO via Wikipedia. The first source of similarity dates back to before these projects were even conceived. The highest mountain in Southern Arizona is Mount Graham (elevation: ∼10,800 feet, or ∼3,300m), which lies approximately 70 miles (110 km) Northeast of Tucson. Monsoon rains helped firefighters in their efforts. During its current project to build the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the summit of Haleakala, the shield volcano that forms most of Maui, observatory leaders have held more than 30 meetings with activists and committed to payments of $2 million a year to University of Hawaii Maui College. The same year, Steward Observatory’s Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) also opened on Mount Graham. “So environmentalists on the Mauna Kea side have fallen in with the principles of aloha more squarely then I would say the environmentalists in the Mount Graham case have adopted Apache principles in passive resistance.”, Lessons learned Cite as. Common threads These previous skirmishes share some illuminating similarities with the latest situation, revealing just how fraught astronomy can be when it clashes with local communities. Kevin Newton, assistant building manager, takes a picture of the Frye Fire from the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Nevertheless, we as a community must be prepared to explain in terms that non-astronomers can understand why more mountain tops should be devoted to astronomy. 2001, Unpublished manuscript submitted to the Research Corporation, Tucson (result of a 2.5-year investigation including over 30 interviews). The mountain was desecrated by the construction of a large astronomical observatory in which the Vatican and the Arcetri observatory participate. “I think it's just a good way to keep that dialogue going.”. She specializes in writing about astronomy, geology and the environment. Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona is the sole home of the severely endangered Mount Graham Red Squirrel. Kaplan, M. 2000, Letter from Coronado National Forest FOIA officer, to Sage. For the astronomers who see themselves as law-abiding citizens following terms of a lease that were laid down half a century ago, the “neocolonialist” characterization is alienating. Many people are surprised to learn that the Vatican even has an observatory. The Large Binocular Telescope project on top of Mount Graham has brought about much controversy from Native American tribes and student environmentalist, which begs the question, "Why?" Mount Graham The controversies surrounding Mount Graham in Arizona in the late 80’s to present day make us think about the “age-old” debate of religion v. science. Graham, and the only American partner in the first telescopes is the University of Arizona. Because I spend a part of my life involved with environmental protection issues and with Native American concerns, it is natural that I would be asked about my feelings on the development of Mt. The largest of the telescopes, named the Columbus telescope was completed in 1995, on Mount Graham. The first two telescopes (which were relatively small in size and already fully funded at the time of the protests) sped through construction. I situate each history of conflict within mountains of controversy. “TMT, to their credit, has done more than any other observatory I've researched in making all kinds of gestures to the local community and to, in particular, the native Hawaiian community,” Swanner says. The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) is an optical telescope for astronomy located on 10,700-foot (3,300 m) Mount Graham, in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona, United States.It is a part of the Mount Graham International Observatory.. For nearly two decades, the telescopes have been the subject of controversy due to their location atop Mount Graham, a site which the local San Carlos and White Mountain … These gestures, however, have failed to sway protesters. These controversies share many features in common, says Leandra Swanner, a science sociologist and historian at Arizona State University in Tempe. The project has seen some opposition but has been allowed to move forward. The LBT, on the other hand, which required a larger plot of land and obscured the sacred peaks, faced 40 lawsuits, eight of which ended up before a federal appeals court. The history of the Vatican Observatory goes back two and a half centuries. During its history, there has been some turmoil and several moves to escape the light and other hindrances that large cities, such as Rome, pose to doing astronomy. This is a preview of subscription content. Although work on the telescope’s components has continued at sites outside Hawaii, whether and how the project will proceed is unclear. This story is not new, goes all the way back to 2010, but seeing as we have been spending some time talking about Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, I thought we should take a look at the counterfeit church that is also powered by Satan, the Roman Catholic Church. The current standoff between Native Hawaiian protesters and proponents of the planned Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) can take some lessons from similar disputes in the past. They found themselves having to defend the value of astronomical observatories—projects they saw as self-evidently noble—to skeptical local communities. For more than 30 years, controversy has raged over Mount Graham, the highest spiritual place for all Apaches. AICA 1988, Public Law 100-696, signed by President Reagan (18 November 1988). In the late 1980s, for example, Mount Graham, in Arizona, saw a bitter fight between astronomers, who wanted to build three telescopes—the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope and The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)—and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, who perform religious ceremonies on the mountain. However it unfolds, the fate of the TMT will likely have repercussions on future standoffs around the world. The LUCIFER telescope conspiracy was originated by two conniving and enterprising cretins, Tom Horn and Cris Putnam, who could not make it in the already overcrowded Bible-thumping marketplace and instead branched out into the world of make believe and fantasy. Federal Register, 1982, US Government Printing Office. The latest fracas, however, bears some telling differences from past controversies, Swanner says. In 2005 the tribe successfully put a stop to the project, spurring the NSF to decide to build it elsewhere. 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