Greenpeace treads on ancient Nazca lines site to urge renewable energy

Greenpeace treads on ancient Nazca lines site to urge renewable energy


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


Tsurugi's picture

Bravo, sir.

I like to be careful when it comes to religion and politics when putting my mouth in gear but this is a good opportunity to test the collective waters of this site, which I have, by the way, become pretty fond of.

     I find Greenpeace to be on the whole quite disengenuous, and when I'm 4 fingers into a fifth of burbon at night I always come up with choice adjectives to desribe them, but this self centered and purile little stunt is an all new level of low in my book. The following snippet tells it best; these are the the ones who in the 80's and 90"s drove their stinky, smoking, smog monser VW microbuses to a demonstaration against the consumption of fossil fuel and then in all Pharisitic self rightious splendor, drove their spoiled little hippy back home, somehow coming to the conclusion that theirs does not smell. It makes me mad enough to wanna eat blubber and  stock up on cans of tuna safe dolphin.

     This in no way means I oppose a sensible and curative look at what we are doing with our enviornment.


mrtkpc's picture

Brainless people with "good intentions", such as these that think they have a right to demonstrate what they stand for with such careless and disrespectful actions belong in crackpot organizations like Greenpeace. Perhaps at their founding Greenpeace may have stood for something honorable, but now they have deteriorated into an environmental cult that seeks to harass any one interacting with nature in what they feel is a negative way. Longstanding traditions don't matter to them, (as GEOB mentioned with the Inuit, condemning them for tradional whale hunting. Newsflash!!! The whales are endangered not because of Inuit hunting, but because of greedy first-world countries killing them off at a rediculous rate for amongst other reasons, sport.) and personally I think the ones who participated in putting forth this message should suffer some time in Peruvian jail. Did they honestly think this was ok? 

Roberto Peron's picture

Greenpeace has issued an apology stating that they are "deeply concerned about any offense" officials in Peru may have taken.  LOL really?  No!  What Greenpeace is REALLY concerned about is their activists going to a Peruvian prison and that's all.  Fact is they marred a very important archeological site.  Their tactics are deplorable!


I remember they told a indigenous group, I think it was Inuit, they were bad for their traditional whale or porpoise hunts and followed this by then condemning them for allowing natural gas exploration. This annoyed the locals to the extent that they pretty much guaranteed there would be gas works where they didn't want them. 

Greenpeace does seem to have an impeccable aim for its own foot!


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