Net zero growth key to TMT support

I learned today that the Hawaii Supreme Court will soon be hearing comments on either ending or sustaining the current halt on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea.

I will add my support to those who are advocating a net zero solution to this inflammatory controversy. The proponents of TMT should try once more to partner with some of the owners of the old, existing telescopes already constructed on the summit. TMT investors should again offer a sweeter deal to some of the owners of the older telescopes. The Thirty Meter Telescope corporation should up the ante and ask the older generation telescope owners to shut down and tear down their telescopes in exchange to have significant use of the new state of the art Thirty Meter Telescope.


The end result will be a zero increase in the environmental and cultural impact of the telescopes on Maunakea. I am aware that this overture will not satisfy those who want to completely cleanse the mountain from any telescopes, but a net zero growth arrangement might win over enough people who would be open to the construction of the new telescope as long as no additional stress is placed upon the mountain.

The TMT owners might say that they cannot commit to increasing the amount of shared time which they have already offered to the corporations who have telescopes on the summit. The owners of the aging telescopes on Maunakea might also balk at the thought of having to shut down their operations even with the assurance of using the new technology of TMT.

What the proprietors of the existing telescopes might not realize, however, is that their renewal to update their soon-to-be outdated telescopes will also come under intense scrutiny by those opposed to telescopes on the mountain. To the owners then of the current depreciating telescopes and the proposed TMT project, I wish you well because the current plan of having a Thirty Meter Telescope without the further, more drastic shutting down of other operations on the peak is doomed to fail without a net zero growth outcome.


Even if the Supreme Court lifts the ban on construction and even if about three-fourths of the public support the TMT project, as insane as it may seem to many, that kind of so-called overwhelming support still won’t be enough for TMT to be built. The history of this project has taught us that more support is still needed. Maybe a zero growth outcome will win over some of the opponents of the project. This new support might then tip the scale to allow the construction to continue.

Lester T. Seto is a resident of Waikoloa.