Store Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

Greenpeace treads on ancient Nazca lines site to urge renewable energy

Greenpeace treads on ancient Nazca lines site to urge renewable energy

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Peru officials expressed dismay after Greenpeace environmental activists trod on the ancient geoglyphs of Nazca in Peru, to place a huge message printed in removable cloth urging the world to use renewable energy. The non-profit organization has certainly gained the world-wide attention they were hoping for, but for the wrong reasons, their positive message stained by their irresponsible actions.

No one is allowed at the world-famous Nazca site without special authorization by Peruvian authorities, and without wearing special shoes to prevent damage on the fragile landscape, neither of which the activists did. The activists left footprints in the area surrounding a hummingbird figure at the site.

Scientists believe Nazca artists incised the lines in the surface of Peru’s coastal desert between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago, though the exact reason for this still remains a mystery. The lines, which measure up to 600 feet long, depict animals, plants, geometric shapes and fantastic figures. To create them, people scraped the rock surface and removed red pebbles underneath the surface.

The world-renowned Nazca lines

The world-renowned Nazca lines.

Peruvian officials said they intend to arrest the 20 Greenpeace activists. Peruvian deputy culture minister Luis Jaime Castillo said the government would try to prevent the activists responsible from leaving the country and pursue charges of attacking archaeological monuments, a felony that carries up to six years imprisonment, The Guardian reported.

Greenpeace’s action coincided with a UN meeting on climate change.

“The activists entered a ‘strictly prohibited’ area beside the figure of a hummingbird, the culture ministry said,” reports The Guardian. “They laid big yellow cloth letters reading: ‘Time for Change! The Future is Renewable.’ The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the UN climate talks being held in Lima.”

Castillo says he has no problem with Greenpeace’s message but protested the group’s methods, which he says endangered the precious U.N. World Heritage site.

“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” he told The Guardian. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognised of all.”

The Greenpeace Web site announced the action December 8: “Greenpeace activists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria displayed the message, which can be viewed from the sky, to honour the Nazca people, whose ancient geoglyphs are one of the historic landmarks of Peru. It is believed that one of the reasons for the Nazca’s disappearance can be linked to massive regional climate change. Today, manmade climate change caused by the burning of oil, coal and gas is threatening our future.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Greenpeace spokeswoman Tina Loeffelbein said the activists took absolute care in protecting the Nazca lines. She said Greenpeace is investigating the action.

Parrot geoglyph at Nazca

Parrot geoglyph at Nazca. Source: BigStockPhotos

Despite a plethora of research on the amazing creations at Nazca, the purpose of the lines continues to elude researchers and remains a matter of conjecture. Some scientists believe they are linked to the heavens with some representing constellations in the night sky. However, research has found that there are just as many lines not related to constellations as those that are, meaning that this theory cannot provide a complete explanation. Other experts believe that the lines played a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place such as Cahuachi and its adobe pyramids. Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert, and may have played a part in water-based rituals.

UNESCO succinctly conveyed the wonder of this ancient place when they said: “The Nazca lines and geoglyphs form a unique and magnificent artistic achievement that is unrivalled in its dimensions and diversity anywhere in the prehistoric world. This unique form of land use bears exceptional witness to the culture and beliefs of this region of pre-Hispanic South America.”

Featured image: Greenpeace message imprinted in the landscape at Nazca next to an ancient geoglyph (Image source)

By Mark Miller



I am totally disgusted by this action taken by a society that I’ve always considered a champion of environmental protection. I have donated to them in the past but I will no longer do so

I seriously can't believe anybody would do this. I'm just beyond myself right now, and so unbelievably incensed.

I'm not surprised though. This is what their type do, no matter what group they're protesting with. Look at the ridiculousness these types pulled in Seattle during that one summit or in Pittsburgh (anarchist? Yeah okay, kid. Love to see you be an "anarchist" in the Badlands of North Philly), not to mention "Occupy".

This might be the most disrespectful thing done to these people since the end of the colonial era.

This is really getting out of line with these schmucks from GP - get their asses and punish them and I suggest Peru ban GreenPeace from their country forever.

Exactly: they were in my city centre a few years back. I couldn't help but notice how exasperated the student aged kids looked. They were unable to see that the universal rollicking they were administering by megaphone to passers by wasn't encouraging those people to sign the petition they had on the go!

Back in the early 80s, I joined that organization, thinking that it was a force for positive change. Then I saw how they were promoting their agenda and what sort of tactics they used to force people to comply and thought better of renewing my membership.

Now I know why I was right in doing that.

Activists are lightweight terrorists at the worst of times, and this action is one of those times. Some day they will desecrate some religious site and really put their feet in their mouths. But given that these criminals are probably in their 20s, any punishments that are given out will probably make them more arrogant and fanatical, not more remorseful or thoughtful. It's their lack of upbringing that makes them so.


Mark Miller's picture


Mark Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a former newspaper and magazine writer and copy editor who's long been interested in anthropology, mythology and ancient history. His hobbies are writing and drawing.

Next article