The Real Scandal behind the Nazca Lines

I’ll start off by saying how silly Greenpeace have been recently. In an attempt to increase pressure on UN negotiators meeting in Lima, the environmental organisation trespassed on the arid plains of southern Peru to lay a banner declaring: ‘Time for Change! The Future is Renewable’. In doing this, they have damaged a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its geoglyphs etched into the earth by ancient Peruvians.


With the resources available to Greenpeace, I’m fairly embarrassed for them that they didn’t research this project properly beforehand. Peru aren’t a wealthy country, and these intriguing lines must be worth a great deal to them, both sentimentally and financially. Greenpeace have shown little respect for the people of Peru, and it is now for them to reconcile the situation together.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media have utterly ripped into Greenpeace regarding Nazca-gate..

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When I googled this story, barely a single headline drew attention to the reason behind the stunt: to highlight the devastation caused by climate change and fossil fuels, and to encourage UN leaders to reconsider the future of our energy sources. Instead, they chose to focus on the damage caused by their footprints and encouraged the reader to direct our anger towards them. Certainly the damage needs highlighting – but what about the rest?

Throughout the 20th century, global temperatures have increased by 1%, with 15% of carbon emissions coming from deforestation and land use change. Climate change is going to effect the poorest regions on the planet, causing sea level rises and chaotic weather that will displace huge numbers of people around the globe. And the Nazca lines?

‘The lines themselves are superficial; they are only 10-30cm deep and could be washed away. Nazca has only ever received a small amount of rain, but now there are great changes to the weather all over the world. The lines cannot resist heavy rain without being damaged.’
Viktoria Nikitzki of the Maria Reiche Centre

In 2013, parts of the Nazca lines were also destroyed by heavy machinery used to transport limestone from a nearby quarry. The limestone firm had not been sanctioned or supervised by authorities, despite being in an archeological reserve. Yet interestingly enough, I don’t remember that story being splashed ferociously across the newspapers?

Over the last few decades, Greenpeace have been responsible for a remarkable number of successes, protecting vulnerable species and regions, and raising awareness for the damage caused by profit-seeking conglomerates. I wonder how many you have read about in the papers?

2001  The Deni Indians of the Amazon won formal recognition of rights to their traditional land, with all logging and mining thereafter prohibited
2010  They stopped Nestlé buying palm oil from sources that destroy Indonesian rainforests and the habitats of orangutans
2006  Spain confirmed it will phase out nuclear power in favour of clean, renewable energy, joining Sweden, Germany, Italy and Belgium
2010  Following a 10 year Greenpeace campaign, Europe has banned the trade in illegal timber
2010  They bought a plot of land in the middle of the proposed site for a third runway at Heathrow, after which runway plans were axed
2002  They exposed the use of illegally logged wood in the refurbishment of the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace and the Cabinet Office in Whitehall

I don’t work for Greenpeace; I’m not even a member (purely due to my financial constraints). But I’m not going to start forgetting all the amazing work they have done just because they made an insensitive mistake. Readers of this blog will know how much I criticise the mainstream media, and how I hold them responsible for so much ignorance and fear in the world. However, the other day I was thinking about it within the ‘chicken and egg’ scenario: Who is really to blame for these stories? The newspapers who print them, or the people who buy the newspapers?

Please don’t read about Nazca-gate and dismiss the work being done by environmental organisations. The papers might want you to get riled up and blame activists for a stupid mistake, but they aren’t the ones we should be angry at. There are logging and mining companies destroying acres of rainforest every day to line their own pockets, but this doesn’t sell newspapers anymore so we are encouraged to forget about it and focus on DRAMATIC things like this.

If you are interested in cool, real news, you can read the agreement concluded by UN members in Lima on how countries should tackle climate change, the next step towards achieving a global climate deal next year in Paris.

ocelot__amazon_rainforest__ecuadorA south American ocelot


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