Letter to the Editor
Open letter to Associated Universities, Inc.
Re:AACD Report of August 2012
I respond to endorse the commentary offered thru the NRAO Doc.PRC-2012.08 as prepared by the staff of NRAO, and to add the following:
The implementation of either of Scenarios “A” or “B” as requested by the AACD report will decimate the highly successful and experienced intellectual/Astronomy community which functions within our country. The loss of this valuable asset along with our huge investment of tax dollars spent on the facilities is damaging and wasteful.
As a taxpayer, I have real difficulty trying to justify the destruction of productive assets in order to gain more “Sky-Time,” and especially when the report strongly wants to spend our money in another country.
Technology is a wonderful thing.
Thanks to the collective ingenuity of our country, we enjoy a world leadership in Astronomy. Let’s keep its development base here.
And of course we should keep our portals open to and from other worldwide sites and people who share our curiosity about the universe.
I believe we need to take a closer look at advancing the sciences on our own turf while improving the facilities we have.
Thank you for considering these thoughts.
Owen S. Higgins
West Virginia’s Observatory in Green Bank is a world leader in Astronomy research. The Observatory owes this honor to the support of West Virginia’s elected officials who worked for funding for West Virginians to build the world’s greatest telescope – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT).
Recently the observatory has been threatened with budget cuts that will damage West Virginia’s future. The Observatory needs your help, your voice of support and your prayers.
World recognition comes only from results. With your telescope, the scientists and engineers have discovered important properties of our world. Your Observatory has discovered most of the chemicals identified in our galaxy. Your observatory has discovered gravitational lenses, where the gravitational pull of a “nearby” galaxy magnifies an even more distant galaxy. These lenses have revealed the same chemicals seen in our galaxy were already visible when the Universe was one tenth its current age. This is a great surprise. Even more surprising was my discovery, in collaboration with others, proving that fundamental physics properties have not changed at all in more than six billion years. We don’t have space here to mention all of our discoveries, but there are enough to prove West Virginia’s leadership in Astronomy.
Being a world leader is not easy. The weather in West Virginia is not perfect, but that problem is compensated by our efforts to build the biggest telescopes, the most able to answer questions about chemistry in our galaxy. The chemistry that led to life on Earth.
The Observatory appreciates West Virginia’s support. The Observatory has given back to West Virginia’s children. Our outreach to children is through the Governor’s schools and online programs. We have worked hard to inspire each and every West Virginia child through our science activities center. The Observatory’s discoveries are important for all West Virginians.
Due to regulations, the employees at the Observatory have had difficulty expressing the moral relevance of astronomy to West Virginians lives. However, astronomical discoveries are tests of the sensibility of mankind’s laws. This is not new. Astronomers have always been advisers to lawgivers and the government, attempting to put our lives in the context of the bigger world.
The prayer below expresses thanks for our place in the universe, revealed by your Observatory. The prayer is for all of West Virginia.
Glen Langston, Ph. D.
Retired Astronomer from the Observatory
Elder of Liberty Presbyterian Church, Green Bank
I want to address a letter I read in the recent paper about the national monument proposal. In that letter, Joel Rosenthal stated, “I was not surprised that these hunters voiced their selfishness at the meeting,” during his argument at the County Commission meeting.
I respect Mr. Rosenthal’s opinion, beliefs and freedom of speech. But I don’t agree with his belief that all hunters are selfish.
If a decision is made to turn the national forest into a national monument, the state of West Virginia will no longer have any control over any of the decisions to be made surrounding it, such as whether or not people would be allowed to hunt on it. This means, that the people who take care of, use and respect this land the most won’t have any say on how it is to be used.
But no one who is pro-monument seems to want to talk about that.
And that concerns someone like me.
You see, my ancestors have been here since before the civil war. My times-five- great grandfather, William O McCoy, settled in the hills of Locust Creek. My grandmother was a Kennison, and great-grandmother a Bruffy – hence the names: Bruffys Creek and Kennison Mountain. Now, I am well aware that this part of the national forest is not currently up for debate, but I wanted you to know how much this debate means to me.
I am a hunter who has never once stepped foot on any national forest with intentions of hunting. I hunt as a landowner. So, my stance of keeping the status quo has nothing to do with hunting for me, personally, although I understand and sympathize with hunters’ concerns.
My issue is with local people unknowingly handing over their say in how their ancestors’ property will be used. At the end of the day - when all of the facts have been submitted without bias - informed decisions can be made.
Some say a National Monument would stimulate job growth in the area it encompasses. I honestly have no idea if that’s true or not. But I can’t help but wonder how many of those new jobs will go to local people?
Will the average person be qualified to work for the federal government?
When a Federal Prison was voted to be built in McDowell County the residents were promised jobs. But what happened was people from other states and other areas came and took most of those jobs, because coal miners – although the backbone of West Virgina – are not very qualified to work in corrections.
But, remaining honest, I can tell you that I really don’t know how the economy would be affected if the monument were to come to town. I guess the real question is: is it worth giving away your freedoms of use of the land for a chance that you might get a job from it?