During this week’s Lima Climate Change Conference in Peru, several Greenpeace activists wanted to draw world leaders’ attention to the challenges our planet faces due to carbon dioxide emissions in a unique way. They managed to enter a restricted archeological area 225 miles south of Lima and lay on the ground a large yellow sign that promoted green energy. Peruvian officials were outraged because the ecologists irreversibly damaged the site.
The activists placed their sign on a patch of desert nearby a set of lines shaped as a giant hummingbird by an ancient civilization called Nazca about 1600 years ago. In 1994, the Nazca lines were designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Officials from Peru said that the hummingbird was the most beautiful of all lines.
The Nazca lines were created by the Nazca culture, an ancient people that lived in the area more than 1,000 years ago. The huge figures span hundreds of feet in the desert portraying plants, animals, birds and geometric shapes. Researchers believe that they had a religious purpose.
Greenpeace representatives publicly apologized for the event. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace international executive director, went personally to Lima and apologized. Still, Peruvian authorities said that no excuse could repair the damaged done to their country’s most treasured symbols. They also said that the damage was irreversible.
“We are not ready to accept apologies from anybody. Let them apologize after they repair the damage,”
said Luis Jaime Castillo, cultural heritage official of Peru.
It seems that dozens of activists entered a protected area were access was forbidden, walked more than a mile to get close to the hummingbird-shaped Nazca lines and placed their huge sign near it. Peruvian officials said that the ground in that patch of desert is covered by two layers – one of dark rocks on top of one of white sand. By trampling on it, Greenpeace members uncovered the white layer and ruined the natural setting.
“A bad step, a heavy step, what it does is that it marks the ground forever. There is no known technique to restore it the way it was,”
Mr Castillo added.
He also said that the group made two types of footprints – a deep access path and several other marks left by activists when placing each letter of the sign. This information was gathered by a drone aircraft sent by the Peruvian culture authorities to evaluate the damage without touching the ground.
Mr. Castillo bitterly remarked that the “stupidity” of the stunt had co-opted part of the identity of Peruvian people’s heritage that would now be forever linked with the Greenpeace scandal.