As an activist with Greenpeace would surely tell you, it’s important to honor the earth, respect local cultures, never litter, and defer to the authority of the global community, which is why a handful of them decided to trample all over delicate 2000-year-old archaeological art formations considered culturally sacred ground for Peruvians and designated a UN World Heritage site, leaving a bunch of yellow trash in their wake. Nice job, guys. The Nazca lines are a series of geometric designs and outlines of animals created on a windless plateau in the desert of southern Peru. You’ve likely seen aerial or satellite photography of these large, famous designs, whose purpose to the Nazca people archaeologists haven’t determined.

Peruvian officials are understandably protective of these designs, which really only amount to very shallow trenches of just a few inches in the earth. Very few people are allowed to walk in the area, and when they do, they’re required to wear special shoes, a deputy cultural minister for the country told The Guardian.

Peru will seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who it says damaged the world-renowned Nazca lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert during a publicity stunt.

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister, after the action by the environmental group on Monday, at the famed drawings etched into Peru’s coastal desert, a UN national heritage site.

He said the government was seeking to prevent those responsible from leaving the country while it asks prosecutors to file charges of attacking archaeological monuments, a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

The activists entered a “strictly prohibited” area beside the figure of a hummingbird, the culture ministry said. 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.

Well, at least they had a really effective plan, I guess. Watch out, UN. There’s a football-field-sized desecration of the environment made of yellow laundry bags asking you to save the environment. Some Peruvian authorities and environmentalists think climate change may endanger the Nazca lines in the future if it means more wind and rain in this formerly arid region. And, Greenpeace decided to speak out against this potential destruction by…hastening it? Check your environmentalist privilege, guys.

They executed the stunt near the hummingbird figure, and Peru alleges damage:

“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,” Castillo said. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Greenpeace spokeswoman Tina Loeffelbein said that the activists were “absolutely careful to protect the Nazca lines” and that the group is taking the case seriously and investigating.

She declined to answer further questions, such as whether Greenpeace intends to identify to authorities the people involved. The government has asked people to do so.

Click the image to watch them lumber clumsily through the dark in this area. I’m sure they were super careful.

Greenpeace 1

These people are miscreants, and in this case, it seems they may literally be criminals. They should have to face local authorities for their actions (do I have to write alleged if they put up a publicity video?) and the damage they may have wrought, out of respect for the earth and local culture.