‘It’s About Respecting a Culture’: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Visits Mauna Kea Protests to Lend Support
Native Hawaiians may be fighting to protect Mauna Kea from a giant telescope, but now they have a different kind of star power on their side. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, one of the world's highest-grossing actors, visited the protesters Wednesday to lend support, Hawaii News Now reported.
Johnson's visit occurred on the 10th day of protests as Native Hawaiians seek to block construction of a $1.4 billion, 18-story Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Hawaii's highest mountain, which they consider sacred. Johnson, who is part Samoan, attended high school on Oahu, HuffPost reported.
"I wanted to come here and see our people and stand with them and support them," Johnson told reporters, as Hawaii News Now reported. "What I realized today, and obviously I've been following this for years now, is that it's bigger than a telescope. It's humanity. It's culture. It is the people of Polynesia who are willing to die here to protect this land. It's not about stopping progress. It's about respecting a culture."
Supporters of the telescope, which is backed by private companies and universities, say it will lead to discoveries about the nature of the universe. But opponents say it will desecrate Mauna Kea, which is both a sacred site for Native Hawaiians and a conservation area, HuffPost explained.
Protesters greeted the actor, who stayed for about an hour, with lei, chanting and hula performances, according to Hawaii News Now.
Johnson is also working on a film that highlights Native Hawaiian history. His Seven Bucks Productions company is making a movie about King Kamehameha the Great, who unified the Hawaiian islands in 1810. Johnson will star as the king, USA Today reported.
The Rock is the most famous person to visit the protests, which began July 15th. In one incident last week, 33 mostly elderly activists were arrested for blocking the road up the mountain.
"When things escalate to that emotional apex, that is a sign that something has to be done," Johnson said, as HuffPost reported. "To full charge ahead isn't the way to do it."
Johnson's visit also came the day after Hawaii Gov. David Ige passed responsibility for reaching a compromise to Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, Big Island Now reported.
"Today, I am asking Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim to coordinate both county and state efforts to peacefully attempt to reach common ground with the protectors of Mauna Kea and the broader community," Ige said in a statement explaining his decision. "Mayor Kim is closest to the situation and the impacts are greatest on the island he leads."
#TMT We both share the goal of achieving a resolution that is peaceful & satisfactory to as many as possible in the community. I support the vision he has widely articulated for #Maunakea as a beacon of hope & discovery for the world that brings us together rather than divides us— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) July 23, 2019
Ige also visited the protests for the first time Tuesday, Hawaii News Now reported further.
During his visit, Johnson called on state leaders to resolve the conflict.
"A greater leadership has to step in. There needs to be leadership with empathy," the actor said, as HuffPost reported.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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