Greenpeace Ship Esperanza Conducts Water Sampling In Manila Bay

Greenpeace is known for staging elaborate stunts aimed at bringing attention to their causes, but they made a major boo boo when demanding action on climate change by defacing an ancient archeological site in Peru.

A group of environmental activist tramped into a protected area that features the famous Nazca lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The lines are enormous geoglyphs scratched into the desert in central Peru. They were formed by exposing lighter colored sand covered with black sand that was disturbed when the activists walked through it.

Peruvian authorities are understandably furious with Greenpeace and say there is no known way to repair the damage.

“We are not ready to accept apologies from anybody,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the vice minister for cultural heritage. “Let them apologize after they repair the damage.” – New York Times

Greenpeace wrote the message “Time for Change – The Future is Renewable,” in large yellow letters. The goal was to bring the attention of international leaders to the problem of climate change and argue that renewable energy is a solution to the problem. Leaders were gathered in Lima for global climate talks, which makes the stunt that much more silly. Clearly if the world’s leaders gathered to draft an international carbon emission reduction agreement they were already aware of climate change issues and the role renewable energy plays as an emissions mitigation tool.

Here is Greenpeace’s apology:

I am deeply disappointed that Greenpeace engaged in an action at the sacred Nazca Lines in Peru.

We have been hearing from many of you and I share your frustration and anger about this situation.

The decision to engage in this activity shows a complete disregard for the culture of Peru and the importance of protecting sacred sites everywhere. There is no apology sufficient enough to make up for this serious lack of judgment.

I know my international colleagues who engaged in this activity did not do so with malice, but that doesn’t mitigate the result. It is a shame that all of Greenpeace must now bear.

For many years Greenpeace US has been making a concerted effort to reach out to and collaborate with diverse constituencies, many of whom share different cultures, values and priorities. We know it’s important for us to be a strong ally who can learn from the leadership of our partners and ensure the work we do reflects and supports all communities.

The Nazca Lines situation has undermined the trust of many allies and supporters that we have been working so hard to build.

As Executive Director of Greenpeace US I assure you that our organization will do everything possible to ensure nothing like this ever happens again and that we will strive to protect the planet in the most respectful, effective and collaborative way possible. I know it will take time and substantial effort to rebuild the trust we have lost, and I am committed to doing that. I am also committed to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable and that we put safeguards in place to ensure that nothing like this happens ever again.

None of these words justifies the pain and anger so many of you are feeling. The next time you hear from me, we will be a better and more respectful Greenpeace. – Greenpeace US Executive Director, Annie Leonard