Greenpeace Apologizes for Nazca Lines Stunt
December 11, 2014 10:37 PM   Subscribe

"The Nazca Lines are a set of giant images of plants and animals, such as a monkey, a spider and a hummingbird, excavated in the soil some 1,500 years ago. " This week, as a message to the climate change summit it Lima, Greenpeace activists entered a restricted area near one of the sets of lines and placed a message in the sand: TIME FOR CHANGE: THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE Of course, the problem is that the lines are located in a fragile desert. "You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years," said Deputy Culture Minister Luis Castillo. Peru is attempting to bar the activists involved in the Greenpeace stunt from leaving the country while asking prosecuters to file charges against them for "attacking archelogical monuments".

"Peru has nothing against the message of Greenpeace. We are all concerned about climate change," said Castillo. "But the means doesn't justify the ends."

ABC report In a statement released Wednesday, Greenpeace has apologized" for the offense caused by our recent activity laying a message of hope at the site of the historic Nazca lines."

The Nazca lines, a series of geoglyphs believed to have been created between 400 and 650 AD have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. "These lines... are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long."
posted by theweasel (154 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reading some of the Facebook comments there seems to be a number of Peruvians claiming the whole thing is some sort of distraction by their government. The strange thing is that the FB comments seem to be part of some sort of organized campaign, as different posters are copying and pasting the same message - that there was no damage to the heritage site. Quite odd.
posted by Nevin at 10:45 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why couldn't they just have photoshopped the text on to the image? Idiots.
posted by infini at 10:55 PM on December 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


If Peru is anything like Latin American countries I'm familiar with, expect this event to be used by different sides to play domestic politics, from "the government isn't doing their job of preventing foreigners from destroying our national heritage" to "the government is using this to distract from the real issues", and flipside versions of those arguments, plus more outré stuff like it all being a false flag operation or whatnot.

At least that always happens in Mexico. When some British cavers I know were rescued from a flooded cave ten years ago, it caused a diplomatic row for no reason, they were expelled from the country with no paperwork, and theories in the press ranged from them searching for uranium for nuclear bombs to alien skulls being found in the caves (no, seriously).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:56 PM on December 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


Interesting, if you search for stories about damage to the Nazca Line prior to this month, many of the results target limestone mining.
posted by biddeford at 10:57 PM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I suspect the Peruvian government is exaggerating the impact a little.
posted by Flashman at 11:02 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Way to go idiots. If Greenpeace as an organization couldn't figure out this was a bad idea - or worse, didn't care - how am I supposed to take their arguments for conservation and environmental cost/benefit calculations seriously?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:44 PM on December 11, 2014 [22 favorites]


Here's a shot of the damage, outlined in red.
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:47 PM on December 11, 2014 [17 favorites]


The aliens are not gonna be happy when this messes up their landing.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:51 PM on December 11, 2014 [22 favorites]


Here's a shot of the damage, outlined in red.

Yikes, that looks much more extensive than what I thought based on the article. Does the photo come with any more information? I find it hard to believe they could do all that and not realize something is wrong.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:55 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh man. This makes me so angry.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:01 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


So basically Greenpeace has gone full PETA here?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:07 AM on December 12, 2014 [30 favorites]


Never go full PETA.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:20 AM on December 12, 2014 [73 favorites]


What damage was caused exactly? No one seems to know.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:25 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Greenpeace isn't exactly an evidence-based organisation, sadly.
posted by daveje at 12:30 AM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


Brocktoon, look at the picture Sternmeyer linked (here, damage outlined in red). The lines formed by Greenpeace bootprints are in some places more prominent than the original Nazca lines, especially the path the activists made in getting to the site.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Greenpeace isn't exactly an evidence-based organisation, sadly.

Anne Glover is awesome. We need more people like her in positions of influence.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously, fuck greenpeace. You'd almost think they were a wing of Big Oil, the damage they do to the cause of environmentalism with stunts like this. How the hell did they think this was a good idea, why did nobody pipe up and point out that they were going to do colossal pr damage to their cause as well as the obvious physical damage to ancient monuments?
posted by Dysk at 12:40 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess this single mistake somehow magically disproves everything every environmental organization has ever said about anything at all.

I'll just go warm up my CoalRoller 3000 and take the off-road route to the mall.
posted by pracowity at 12:44 AM on December 12, 2014 [34 favorites]


I mean I don't like their views on several issues and I think they are extremist dicks but...I would personally not have known that doing this sort of protest would cause permanent damage. I don't find it surprising they didn't either. It's a big organization so somebody should have figured it out ahead of time (Be careful when you decide to wander on to one of the most important cultural and artistic works on the planet!) but this isn't the Taliban intentionally blowing up Buddha statues, it's a mistake of serious ignorance. I don't like them, but I see this more as a very serious accident than an intentional desecration.

And Greenpeace has a lot more on their record than one mistake.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:47 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


pracowity: "Well, I guess this single mistake somehow magically disproves everything every environmental organization has ever said about anything at all. "

This is a rejoinder to whom?
posted by Bugbread at 12:50 AM on December 12, 2014 [36 favorites]


In a way, intentional desecration shows more respect for art than carelessness.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:04 AM on December 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


Between this and the national park defacements, people seem to be getting dumber about preserving important national/cultural artifacts. I predict this keeps happening. We're in an age where we have to put our mark on everything, for the lols and the attention, god help us. The world is our public bathroom stall to write on.
posted by naju at 1:14 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I always thought the idea of a Greenpeace intervention was that it should be imposed on top of a giant cooling tower or a rusting factory ship or something else that they did not approve of. Not tatooed on top of something they presumably want to preserve.
posted by rongorongo at 1:22 AM on December 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Rod McKuen weeps.
posted by clavdivs at 1:29 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Greenpeace! I was just thinking that it would be good to give denialists some more ways to distract people from climate change. Al Gore's fatness was starting to get old.
posted by No-sword at 1:48 AM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Next time at the zoo I'm going to gob on a panda. Take that Greenpeace!
posted by gnuhavenpier at 2:20 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is a rejoinder to whom?

I'd imagine it's a rejoinder to Dr. Dracator's comment:

Way to go idiots. If Greenpeace as an organization couldn't figure out this was a bad idea - or worse, didn't care - how am I supposed to take their arguments for conservation and environmental cost/benefit calculations seriously?

and perhaps scaryblackdeath's comment:

Oh man. This makes me so angry.

and probably Dysk's comment:

Seriously, fuck greenpeace. You'd almost think they were a wing of Big Oil, the damage they do to the cause of environmentalism with stunts like this.

And I'd go on record as supporting pracowity's comment. It was spot on.

And… fuck Greenpeace? Fuck that. Fuck Big Oil, man. I mean, really, lets get some fucking priorities straight, shall we? Keep your eyes on the real enemy, and keep in mind that everybody makes mistakes every now and again.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:55 AM on December 12, 2014 [26 favorites]


Their problem will be that the next time they tell some entity about the environmental problems its causing or whatever, peeps are gonna, hey it was an honest mistake.

Mistakes are certainly allowed but mayhaps if your reason for existence is to say X about not doing Y then maybe in situations where X could be Y'd you'd wanna be all the more careful to keep your nose clean, no?
posted by infini at 3:08 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Between this and the national park defacements, people seem to be getting dumber about preserving important national/cultural artifacts.

Maybe they think that they aren't "relevant".
posted by thelonius at 3:18 AM on December 12, 2014


Something something...distroy the village to save it?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:28 AM on December 12, 2014


To be fair it was a seriously stupid thing to do.
Even if it was not as damaging as their opponents are claiming what were they thinking?

So yes, it does call into question the competence of the organisation but it's not like they started some wars or destroyed countless thousands of lives. I'm pretty sure they're still the good guys.
posted by fullerine at 3:40 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: it's not like they started some wars or destroyed countless thousands of lives.
posted by Segundus at 3:46 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


And… fuck Greenpeace? Fuck that. Fuck Big Oil, man. I mean, really, lets get some fucking priorities straight, shall we? Keep your eyes on the real enemy, and keep in mind that everybody makes mistakes every now and again.

The fact that I said 'fuck greenpeace' and specifically referenced that it was because they were almost doing Big Oil's work should make it abundantly apparent that I am also firmly on board with 'fuck Big Oil'. Doesn't mean I don't hate greenpeace for being complete (and counter-productive) idiots.
posted by Dysk at 3:47 AM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


TIME FOR CHANGE: THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE

Come on, Greenpeace. If you're going to carve your message into the desert alongside world-famous work that's been there for 1500 years, come up with something better than that. I'm not a professional copywriter or anything, but it just doesn't seem convincing. The future isn't actually renewable. The amount of future remaining is subject to considerable uncertainty, but it's probably not infinite and in any case it's not renewable. Once it's used up, it's gone forever. Every day, more and more of the future is being converted into present and past, and it's never coming back. If you believe otherwise, you could at least have found a pithy quote from Nietzsche to make the point.
posted by sfenders at 3:53 AM on December 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm pretty sure they're still the good guys.

The dumb good guys.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:53 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: The dumb good guys.
posted by daveje at 3:55 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


A slightly angrier response to the vandalism.

This is just colossally offensive. They didn't kill anyone, no, but this was a completely gratuitous attack on an irreplaceable ancient artifact, on Native Americans, on a fragile natural environment, on Peru-- things that should be protected by activists, not permanently marred. The question isn't whether Big Oil is worse. The question is why the hell someone thought cultural desecration was a valid form of protest.
posted by zompist at 4:17 AM on December 12, 2014 [72 favorites]


dumb arrogance?
posted by infini at 4:22 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


How do you know what the Nazca Lines are without knowing that this stunt would cause the damage it did?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [22 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: "If Peru is anything like Latin American countries I'm familiar with

At least that always happens in Mexico.
"

Right, because there's no difference between Peru and Mexico, I mean, they both eat tacos and sing rancheras from their burros, right?
posted by signal at 4:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Greenpeace is more about fundraising than activism, and it has a record of extensive insensitivity to indigenous people and traditional cultures. Sign me up as not being a fan before this, less of one now.

I just heard a story about how fucked Lima's poor are gonna be when the glaciers above them (40% gone already) finish melting and there is no more clean water.

We don't have time for stunt-based activism that alienates more than it mobilizes.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 AM on December 12, 2014 [17 favorites]


Also are those giant yellow letters really made from plastic?
posted by spitbull at 4:30 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Maybe now Lego and Shell can get back together.

Seriously though: these letters weren't painted on, they were giant bits of cloth. The damage was from the footprints.
posted by devnull at 4:44 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]



Right, because there's no difference between Peru and Mexico, I mean, they both eat tacos and sing rancheras from their burros, right?


I think Joakim Ziegler might be Mexican, signal.
posted by claudius at 4:47 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Right because a company that makes millions of plastic doohickeys that eventually wind up in the waste stream should not be seen to partner with a petroleum company.
posted by spitbull at 4:48 AM on December 12, 2014


Between this and the national park defacements, people seem to be getting dumber about preserving important national/cultural artifacts. I predict this keeps happening. We're in an age where we have to put our mark on everything, for the lols and the attention, god help us. The world is our public bathroom stall to write on.

When the entirety of the news cycle is based on NEW and shockvalue (gotta sell ads!), not explanation, not education and sure as hell not going to waste time on corrections or nuance. And, the professional world is built around quarterly growth and shareholder value, not customer satisfaction, not building lasting value. Exactly how are people supposed to acquire an appreciation for anything beyond the end of the nose, or the top of their stream?
posted by DigDoug at 4:50 AM on December 12, 2014


The side show is just so much more interesting than the main event.
posted by Poldo at 4:54 AM on December 12, 2014


When your protest is more about drawing attention to yourself rather than the issue, you're doing it wrong.

Oh for the days when everyone showed up in their Sunday best and just marched. Not fun. Not exciting to do. But it makes regular people think that if these decent people are concerned about this then maybe I ought to look into it. And that is the goal. To advance the movement.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:05 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


This stunt feels like something Eli Roth would have written into The Green Inferno.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:07 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stop own-goaling, Greenpeace, FFS.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:13 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Greenpeace is anti-science and therefore anti-human.
posted by CincyBlues at 5:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure they're still the good guys.

The dumb good guys.


Damn, Dark Helmet was right.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:56 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meh. It was a dumb mistake, but anyone who has worked with or even dealt with a large institution can think of a dozen worse ones. This is the result of a grievous misstep by the world's most prominent environmental organization.

100,000 square kilometres of this in my country is the result of best practices by the oil and gas industry.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:00 AM on December 12, 2014 [19 favorites]


I have not been a fan of them since Brent Spar

I am no fan of the oil industry but Greenpeace lie and lie and lie and very often make things worse rather than better.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:04 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've noticed a number of people saying that this isn't the first time Greenpeace has gone off and done something that has garnered way more negative publicity for them as an organisation rather than drawing attention to their message.

The PETA reference above made me wonder what it is about these once-valued, or at least respected, groups that turns them from effective activism to empty stunts that are counter-productive, and an increasing number of follies. I have my suspicions, but it would be interesting to get a better picture.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:10 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


The fact that I said 'fuck greenpeace' and specifically referenced that it was because they were almost doing Big Oil's work should make it abundantly apparent that I am also firmly on board with 'fuck Big Oil'. Doesn't mean I don't hate greenpeace for being complete (and counter-productive) idiots.

There's actually a really great eye-rolly phrase used on another board I frequent, when someone is talking about when someone whose ideas they agree with uses a tactic they do NOT agree with - "Stop being on my side, you're making my side look STUPID."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:11 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I mean I don't like their views on several issues and I think they are extremist dicks but...I would personally not have known that doing this sort of protest would cause permanent damage.

I dunno about you, but if I were gonna do something like this I would probably first Google 'Nazca Lines' a whole bunch, if only to plan routes and stuff, at which point I'm positive I would have come across one of the zillion sources stating firmly that nobody - up to and including visiting heads of state - is allowed to visit the lines on foot without either super-specialized footwear and trained guides (and even that only happens once in a blue moon) for fear of damaging the site. And for any reasonable and responsible organization, that would have been a giant red flag.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:17 AM on December 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


So was this an activity that was sanctioned by Greenpeace proper? If so fuck those guys. Or was it done by a few rogue activists in Greenpeace's name? If so, then fuck those guys. I'm not sure if the damage is irreparable, but it is certainly unforgivable. Ironically they've sort of humanized big oil, proving that the oil companies aren't the only organizations capable of prioritizing short-term gain while ignoring long-term impact.

I would personally not have known that doing this sort of protest would cause permanent damage. I don't find it surprising they didn't either. . . it's a mistake of serious ignorance. I don't like them, but I see this more as a very serious accident than an intentional desecration.

Manslaughter by willful negligence doesn't mean you haven't killed someone.
posted by Think_Long at 6:20 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Calling it an attack is silly. I'm sure they're very sad about this.

Secrecy and insularity is what killed them on this. I know they don't want SWAT teams descending on them and treating them like armed terrorists, but when you don't tell people what you intend and you don't involve knowledgeable outsiders and public scrutiny, you don't have the right people to warn you off bad ideas. Either they need to dump the surprises and go totally open source, or they need to have absolutely every plan vetted by good outsiders who know and understand the destination and operation and who won't just say yes to make the boss happy.

If you're going after whaling ships, you need to involve people who have worked on whaling ships. If you're going to base jump into a city square, you need to involve people who live in that city and have done that jump or jumps very similar, and you need to know you aren't going to land feet first on a pack of sunbathing grannies. And if you're going to go into a sacred archaeological site, you need to talk to an archaeologist who will tell you that you never fucking go anywhere near anyone's sacred archaeological site. "Destination is sacred?" and "Destination could be damaged by our actions?" should be right under "People could die?" on their "Should We Not Do This?" list.
posted by pracowity at 6:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


The world is our public bathroom stall to write on.

There is a rock formation in Fall River, MA that looks like a person from a certain angle (The ghost of Chief Massasoit, or so the local legend says), called Profile Rock. It was a pleasant hike for even small children, and a fine thing to look at once you arrived. Or it was when I was a kid and teen - I took my daughter there last year, and there was yellow graffiti tags over the whole damn thing, and broken glass from smashed liquor and beer bottles everywhere, making it unsafe to be around.

There is a dramatic decline in respect for public spaces. I blame the rise of neoliberalism/conservatism and the denial of such things as the common good and the tragedy of the commons - it's pernicious bullshit. More, city dwellers who profess to be liberal/progressive smile and nod while skateboarders and graffiti taggers damage and ruin architecture and infrastructure, because freedom I guess? Because they don't feel ownership of things their taxes paid for, and expect others to foot the bill for vandalism as a hobby? Money that could be used for new books in the library or an extra special ed teacher, used to clean and repair public property.

This is an outgrowth of those same myopic and self-obsessed attitudes. The Now is always more important than Tomorrow, conservation can be tossed aside whenever convenient or desired - what a horrible message for an environmental group to send.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:32 AM on December 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Greenpeace should have blamed it on aliens.
posted by vorpal bunny at 6:36 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


The absurd campaign Greenpeace waged against the Cassini-Huygens probe started my drive to really understand what they were talking about that turned me from a lifelong kneejerk antinuclear cultist to an enthusiastic supporter of nuclear energy as a key part of combating global climate change, so their intentions often have unexpected consequences.

Wheaton's Law goes a long way in these cases.
posted by sonascope at 6:39 AM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


And… fuck Greenpeace? Fuck that. Fuck Big Oil, man. I mean, really, lets get some fucking priorities straight, shall we? Keep your eyes on the real enemy, and keep in mind that everybody makes mistakes every now and again

No, fuck this.

It's kind of shocking and sickening to me to see people in this thread taking a "well, they're on our side and everyone makes mistakes" attitude. Just because they agree with me doesn't excuse their bullshit. Anything people do in the name of something I agree with doesn't get a pass. You're enabling this stupidity by giving them a pass because they're the "good guys".

And even more offensive are the "OH YOU'RE CRITICIZING GREENPEACE BUT WHAT ABOUT BIG OIL" comments. Amazingly it's possible to both oppose Big Oil and also find Greenpeace an awful, counter-productive entity. As others have pointed out, this isn't an isolated incident, but another in a long list of idiotic "mistakes" and anti-science campaigns.

Well, I guess this single mistake somehow magically disproves everything every environmental organization has ever said about anything at all.

Yeah, it kind of does.

At base this is a PR war. That was the very point of this stunt. When you do things that are monumentally stupid that piss people off, you make what you're supporting look bad so that it becomes harder for everyone to promote it. The powers that be already try to portray climate activists as stupid hippies and this just feeds right into their narrative.

You really don't want people associating fighting climate change and helping the environment with this idiocy, but that's exactly what these high-profile stunts do.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [33 favorites]


If only they had thought to write the message in burning gasoline, like Batman.
posted by Behemoth at 6:49 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This was remarkably tone-deaf. I hope there is a way for Peru to charge whatever higher-ups authorized this, rather than just the young (and clearly dumb) activists who did the actual damage.

Personally Greenpeace hasn't felt particularly relevant since the 1980s, but they aren't an organization I watch closely either. My money is on incompetence and cultural arrogance rather than some kind of conspiracy, though -- it's hard to ever underestimate the role of those two factors in dumb and tone-deaf decisions.

More, city dwellers who profess to be liberal/progressive smile and nod while skateboarders and graffiti taggers damage and ruin architecture and infrastructure,

I'm all for those nasty kids getting off of my lawn too, but the actual damage to public life comes from the privatization of public spaces, the massive intrusions of the security state, and gross inequality that leaves vast numbers of people effectively outside of the normal economy. A few skateboarders repurposing brutalis architecture is not the actual problem. (However, I'd happily support a law requiring graffiti to be good, with people who just spraypaint their name being sent to art reeducation camps to learn how to create large and visually compelling murals and designs.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:53 AM on December 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


They didn't know what they didn't know.
posted by amtho at 6:58 AM on December 12, 2014


It doesn't look like the damage was done in bad faith. It was the footprints which presumably no one foresaw. And how bad is the footprint damage, once the red cloth is removed? How much of this is being politicized by Greenpeace's enemies (which apparently includes a portion of the Metafilter community).
posted by stbalbach at 7:01 AM on December 12, 2014


It doesn't look like the damage was done in bad faith.

"Nobody is allowed up there so we'll go up there!"
posted by Talez at 7:02 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


> It was the footprints which presumably no one foresaw.

There was plenty of opportunity to back out at some point, perhaps upon noticing "hey, this pristine, sacred environment that we had to infiltrate in secret because it's not open to the public now has a new mark on it that stands out boldly"
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:03 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was the footprints which presumably no one foresaw.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO LEAVE FOOTPRINTS! OUR FEET WILL BE COVERED! WE'LL BE WEARING SHOES
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:06 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


It is irrelevant that they didn't mean to damage the lines. They did damage the lines due to easily foreseeable negligence.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:13 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I could be missing something, but generally speaking, don't walk off path on archaeological sites. Don't do it! Don't climb house walls at Herculaneum, don't climb the stones at Stonehenge, don't graffiti your name in the Colosseum, don't step on bones in Maya caves, and don't mess up the Nazca lines. This is not an obscure principle vis a vis this site. This is not an obscure principle at most cultural or natural heritage sites.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:13 AM on December 12, 2014 [30 favorites]


They didn't know what they didn't know.

let's see, how does this go... there are known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, and then there are unknown knowns.

Fuck, we are all Donald Rumsfeld.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:18 AM on December 12, 2014


(which apparently includes a portion of the Metafilter community).

You got us, anyone critical of Greenpeace here is a stooge of Big Oil. Now if you'll excuse me I need to go collect my check and complementary barrel of sweet crude.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


The damage in the photo Sternmeyer posted is pretty astonishing, if that was made by footprints (haven't people been trampling here for centuries?). Odd that the damage doesn't appear to show up in the publicity shot. Maybe one side or the other has been doing some Photoshopping? The people in the photo give a sense of scale: I'd always thought these things were huge.
posted by Flashman at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


The damage in the photo Sternmeyer posted is pretty astonishing, if that was made by footprints

Since the cloth was red, and that photo shows red, are you sure we not looking at red cloth?
posted by stbalbach at 7:21 AM on December 12, 2014


The Nazca lines are not very viable up close only when seen from a height and distance, so yeah, they probably would not have noticed anything while laying down the red cloth. Also, unclear how much damage the footprints actually did and how much of it is Internet mob over-reaction pile on Greenpeace hypocrites etc..
posted by stbalbach at 7:24 AM on December 12, 2014


The cloth wasn't red. I'm not sure where you got that idea, given that every picture shows yellow cloth letters.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:24 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh god this is how I'm going to discover I'm some kind of colour blind, isn't it.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:27 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


And… fuck Greenpeace? Fuck that. Fuck Big Oil, man. I mean, really, lets get some fucking priorities straight, shall we? Keep your eyes on the real enemy, and keep in mind that everybody makes mistakes every now and again.

One can understand that Big Oil is the worst person in the room while also recognizing that the people who damaged this ancient site are stupid, stupid assholes.

I genuinely hope they get jail time. I hope Big Oil gets punished for all of its crimes, too. These are not mutually exclusive desires.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:28 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


You got us, anyone critical of Greenpeace here is a stooge of Big Oil.

Anyone critical of Greenpeace here is a stooge of Big Oil?

The cloth wasn't red.

Sorry yellow.

Oh god this is how I'm going to discover I'm some kind of colour blind, isn't it.

OK I'm done here.
posted by stbalbach at 7:28 AM on December 12, 2014


What really bothers me about this whole thing is the apology. Greenpeace doesn't apologize for damaging a historical site - they're apologizing for "causing offense". That's like burning down someone's car and then apologizing for making them mad.

The full text of the apology, by the way, can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/other/Nazca-Lines-protest-apology.pdf

The text is as follows:

Lima, Peru, 10 December 2014

Greenpeace releases the following apology about the Nazca Lines protest on December 8th:

Without reservation Greenpeace apologises to the people of Peru for the offence caused by our recent activity laying a message of hope at the site of the historic Nazca Lines. We are deeply sorry for this.

We fully understand that this looks bad. Rather than relay an urgent message of
hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as careless and crass.

We have now met with the Peruvian Culture Ministry responsible for the site to offer an apology.

We welcome any independent review of the consequences of our activity. We will cooperate fully with any investigation.

We take personal responsibility for actions, and are committed to nonviolence. Greenpeace is
accountable for its activities and willing to face fair and reasonable consequences.

Dr Kumi Niadoo, the International Executive Director of Greenpeace, will travel to Lima this week, to personally apologise for the offence caused by the activity and represent the organisation in any on going discussions with the Peruvian authorities.

Greenpeace will immediately stop any further use of the offending images.

posted by enamon at 7:29 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


And even more offensive are the "OH YOU'RE CRITICIZING GREENPEACE BUT WHAT ABOUT BIG OIL" comments. Amazingly it's possible to both oppose Big Oil and also find Greenpeace an awful, counter-productive entity. As others have pointed out, this isn't an isolated incident, but another in a long list of idiotic "mistakes"

Oh, I think you are absolutely right to call people out on the false equivalency. The footprints caused by the latest idiot mistake by Greenpeace are of course not really any different from this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


but the actual damage to public life comes from the privatization of public spaces, the massive intrusions of the security state, and gross inequality that leaves vast numbers of people effectively outside of the normal economy

Also, vandals. One does not excuse the other.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 AM on December 12, 2014


They may have been naïve instead of malicious, but if you are an environmental organization, doing your research about sites you include in your activities is too basic a lapse to excuse. That's Cub Scout/Brownie-level knowledge. Grown-ass persons don't get off the hook for it, no matter how well-meaning.

Saying all graffiti is wrong is iffy because some of the most interesting stuff we have from, say, Roman ruins is the graffiti those vanished folks left behind. I think the difference is leaving it on your own contemporaneous structures as opposed to damaging ancient and irreplaceable things. If we found a tiny "[Name] was here" in a corner of the Nazca lines, that was left by one of its artists/maintainers, we would treat that as a delightful discovery that gave us insight into a lost people, not as a crime.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Right, because there's no difference between Peru and Mexico, I mean, they both eat tacos and sing rancheras from their burros, right?

Yeah, uh... pretty sure Joakim is Mexican. He lives there, anyway. He didn't stumble into a Taco Bell and then declare himself qualified to make pronouncements about Latin America comparing its countries to Mexico because hey: same diff. He lives in Latin America and used Mexico as a reference point because he lives in Mexico City.

Put your guns away there, signal. You're shooting at the wrong people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:41 AM on December 12, 2014


Oh, I think you are absolutely right to call people out on the false equivalency. The footprints caused by the latest idiot mistake by Greenpeace are of course not really any different from this.

Nobody is saying they are literally as bad as Big Oil. Just that they're also bad. It's not drawing a direct equivalence. The smaller evil is still evil.

And there's plenty of 'fuck you' to go around. Throwing some Greenpeace's way isn't going to mean any less thrown at the oil companies. 'Fuck you' is genuinely a renewable resource.
posted by Dysk at 7:43 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Alternative perspectives that are almost certainly naive, rhetorical, or apparently trollish, and yet which as points of entry into this moral panic, I find useful:
* Greenpeace didn't harm the environment. (Edit: or by some measure they did, but still, see this:) They left footprints. Broadly speaking, even environmentalists would grant humans that, I think.
* The natural environment does not include old things made by people. Well OK that's a rabbit hole but again food for thought wrt this issue.
** If Greenpeace had existed when the Lines were made, that version of GP would probably have said, "no, don't do that to the environment". That's a stretch, but you get the idea.
* "Entered into a restricted area"? What philosophical environmentalist, who intends to tread lightly wherever they may roam (tee hee), would a priori respect some political assignation of Mother Earth's lands as "restricted"? Getting upset about footprints in a "restricted area" as my small city alone dumps unbelievable shit-tons of garbage every day? (More at Xmas!) Yeah ok.

The only thing that makes me angry is the predictable spew in all directions based on politics (so based on money).
posted by sylvanshine at 7:43 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The damage the footprints did was to the fragile desert ecosystem, in particular desert microbial crust. Anyone who has ever visited a desert has likely received the lecture about not walking off the path. I remember it very clearly from visiting Arches National Park in the US. It takes centuries for the microbial crust to grow and seconds for human feet to trample it. This is not a new idea.

Ironically, these crusts are in danger from climate change. But they were more in danger from the feet of supposed environmentalists who "love nature" but don't actually know anything about it.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


Oh for the days when everyone showed up in their Sunday best and just marched. Not fun. Not exciting to do. But it makes regular people think that if these decent people are concerned about this then maybe I ought to look into it. And that is the goal. To advance the movement.

I can only assume you are talking about civil rights protests. I don't see a lot of "Sunday best" in pictures of Vietnam war protests. Would you argue that those didn't advance the movement?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:46 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Greenpeace releases the following apology about the Nazca Lines protest on December 8th

Greenpeace doesn't apologize for damaging a historical site - they're apologizing for "causing offense". That's like burning down someone's car and then apologizing for making them mad.


This is a clear, unqualified apology for making a hugely stupid mistake. I don't think people dismissing Greenpeace as a whole are in the pocket of Big Oil or whatever, and I agree it's possible to criticize this behavior while still opposing people who gleefully shit all over the planet. But I do think it's worth noting that this apology makes no excuses or tosses out any red herrings. It takes full responsibility for this. That's already light years ahead of any of the world's major polluters, who do far, far worse damage on a daily basis. Just to have things in perspective here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:46 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's still not clear what damage was done. This picture doesn't match with the damage shown by this picture. A Google Image search shows many pictures that don't concur with the one linked up thread showing severe damage.
posted by stbalbach at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This picture doesn't match with the damage shown by this picture.

Maybe the latter picture was after they'd taken everything down and peeled out while flipping the bird.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:58 AM on December 12, 2014


They don't dispute that they walked all over the microbial crust many times and laid fabric letters all over it. One person walking in that area could have caused substantial damage, and it was not just one person who set up that whole thing. That process destroyed a large portion of an important ecosystem. Just because it's microbial and doesn't show up in pictures does not mean substantial ecological damage was not done. That is why the area is closed to the public and why researchers wear special shoes when they must enter the area.

Damage done due to ignorance about the ecosystem they impacted is not excusable just because they had good intentions and think of themselves as environmentalists.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:00 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]




> But I do think it's worth noting that this apology makes no excuses or tosses out any red herrings. It takes full responsibility for this.

Except what it takes responsibility for is offending the people of Peru. Nowhere in the apology is there any mention of damaging a historical site which is what caused the offense.

Furthermore, instead of focusing on the integrity of the historical site, the apology instead focuses on how this affects Greenpeace's image. Here's the exact quote from the "apology":

We fully understand that this looks bad. Rather than relay an urgent message of
hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as careless and crass.


I don't care that this "looks bad" or that they "came across as careless and crass." They damaged a historical site. They need to take responsibility and apologize for that.
posted by enamon at 8:05 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I had no idea that there was a desert microbial crust. I could have easily booked a ticket, gone to some desert somewhere, and followed my inquisitive mind to some random point in a gorgeous desert and done damage without realizing it.

Then, I would feel terrible afterward, when some horrified, more-educated person let me know what I'd done.

Please don't just yell at and punish future, hypothetical, ignorant me. Please find a way to make sure I know what you know about this and all the other stuff I haven't even imagined trying to do.

Trying to combat the Dunning-Kruger effect since 2014.

posted by amtho at 8:05 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It wasn't a message of hope. It was an advert for greenpeace.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:10 AM on December 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would personally not have known that doing this sort of protest would cause permanent damage. I don't find it surprising they didn't either.

Which is ironic since Greenpeace are fans of the Precautionary Principle and they went ahead with this stunt anyway.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:11 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


There are usually signs in national parks and other federal land telling you not to go off the trail and why not. This particular place was posted as closed to the public as a restricted area to protect the ecosystem and the heritage site. I'm not sure what else could have been done. If people are going to intentionally trespass and claim to love nature, they should make sure their trespassing isn't wrecking nature.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:11 AM on December 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'd be surprised that Greenpeace hadn't known about the risks of damage to the crust while planning this. Lord knows they have their faults, but environmentalists do tend to be people who know about the environment.
posted by Flashman at 8:14 AM on December 12, 2014


I could have easily booked a ticket, gone to some desert somewhere, and followed my inquisitive mind to some random point in a gorgeous desert and done damage without realizing it.

Would this hypothetical on vacation you see signs saying "Please do not disturb this national historical site by trespassing outside designated areas" and totally ignore them? Further, I think it's reasonable to expect that an organization claiming to be fighting to protect the environment would actually know things about the environment.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:15 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I had no idea that there was a desert microbial crust. I could have easily booked a ticket, gone to some desert somewhere, and followed my inquisitive mind to some random point in a gorgeous desert and done damage without realizing it.

Then, I would feel terrible afterward, when some horrified, more-educated person let me know what I'd done.

Please don't just yell at and punish future, hypothetical, ignorant me. Please find a way to make sure I know what you know about this and other stuff I haven't even imagined trying to do.

amtho

A planned PR campaign by one of the world's most largest and most recognizable environmental organizations just maybe should be held to a higher standard than some random person wandering around and goofing up. These weren't some unfortunate hikers who didn't know better, they were agents of a large organization on a marketing campaign.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:15 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Now when they tell me where I might be going wrong in the way my actions impact the ecological ecosystem around me, I'll wonder if they have a clue about the environment at all. Tsk.
posted by infini at 8:17 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or it was when I was a kid and teen - I took my daughter there last year, and there was yellow graffiti tags over the whole damn thing, and broken glass from smashed liquor and beer bottles everywhere, making it unsafe to be around.

There is a dramatic decline in respect for public spaces.


We have also defunded the federal, state, and local authorities who used to manage those kinds of issues.
posted by winna at 8:23 AM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


The lines themselves were created not by disturbing the microbial crust, but by removing the reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles that cover the surface of the Nazca Desert, revealing a lighter colored soil underneath. The lines are 4-6 inches deep. I'd still like to get some real facts on what damage was done.
posted by stbalbach at 8:25 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Without reservation Greenpeace apologises to the people of Peru for the offence DAMAGE caused by our recent activity laying a message of hope at the site of the historic Nazca Lines. We are deeply sorry for this.

We fully understand that this looks
IS bad. Rather than relay an urgent message of hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as WERE careless and crass.

That's what the apology should have looked like.
posted by rocket88 at 8:33 AM on December 12, 2014 [17 favorites]


That's a good question, and I do wonder if it's possible to find an independent assessment on how much damage was actually caused. I certainly accept your assertion that it may be less than some sources are making out , and that there is likely some exaggeration just to stick it to Greenpeace.
Greenpeace is certainly not short of enemies.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:34 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do wonder if it's possible to find an independent assessment on how much damage was actually caused

European activists flew in, defaced a Peruvian monument, and it ruffled nationalistic feathers. How much damage was actually caused remains an open question. Greenpeace is asking for an investigation.
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lord knows they have their faults, but environmentalists do tend to be people who know about the environment.

Well, there's knowing about the environment in a nice fuzzy bunny-rabbits and unicorns kind of way, and *knowing* about the environment, which takes actual work. Greenpeace is good on the former, I'm not too impressed about the latter.
posted by daveje at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is a dramatic decline in respect for public spaces.

There is a dramatic decline in public spaces.

Also, while I don't condone what Greenpeace has done, I'm at a loss for strategies that will convince the powers that be that, basically, the message is right.

Polite marches in our Sunday best, decades and decades of incredible climate science, letter writing campaigns, 350.org, Avaaz petitions....writing to your local neo-liberal political shill... What exactly are the options now for getting the people that have the power to make change on a global scale to do something to ensure that my children have a world that they can survive in?

Because as bad as this is, so far no one with influence has been physically harmed in trying to get that message across and I'm beginning to believe that, with what's at stake, we are STILL being too kind in the way we are expressing our discontent with the fact that we're enabling greed to mortgage the only home we will ever have.

/AngerFilter
/FrustrationFilter
/SadnessFilter
posted by salishsea at 9:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I direct research and policy for a small (but growing!) nonprofit. My wife and I started it up with two clipboards and a couple of ballpoint pens after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and we've built it up to an organization with several chapters across the state and a part-time staff of a dozen interns. We spend countless hours educating children and adults about environmental problems related to the extraction, transport, and use of fossil fuels. We have a small (less than 20% by law) amount of our budget that we can spend on direct advocacy, so we spend it on more clipboards and ballpoints, and envelopes and postage so that citizens can write their legislators to inform them about what is needed for energy policy to help promote a cleaner, more sustainable environment. So, really, in a nutshell, our mission is essentially Fuck Big Oil.

But I'm willing to toss out a Fuck Greenpeace here too. This kind of shit discredits our entire movement, and when I sit down with a certain state representative next week whose campaign contributions come largely from the fossil fuel industry, in the hopes that we might persuade her to co-sponsor, or at least not actively fight against a fracking ban that will help prevent depletion and pollution of our aquifer (she is begrudgingly OK on environmental issues sometimes), I know that she will say "Oh, what about those Greenpeace people who trashed up that desert in Peru?" Because she's brought up Greenpeace stunts with us several times because she thinks we are somehow affiliated with them and we have to explain to her again and again that we are not.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:28 AM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


Cookiebastard...if it wasn't Greenpeace they would be saying the same thing about something else. Asking you if you have a car, or whether you heat your home with oil or gas. Because the fuckers that deny there is a problem love pointing out how we are all hypocrites.

So yes fuck this stunt. But leave it at that. Because the state rep that takes oil money has a lot more shit on their hands than you do and THEY SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DODGE THAT RESPONSIBILITY.

The proper response is "Oh are we talking about trashing a desert? Let's talk about how climate change is CREATING deserts where there was once arable land, because frankly that's a more relevent conversation than you trying to deflect the fact that you're a bought pawn."

/RageFilter (the off switch for my anger doesn't seem to be working this morning)
posted by salishsea at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Dear Greenpeace, you seem to be wrong at least half the time lately, but your organization's illustrious history is amazing. Love you guys. I am deeply sorry for this. It may be a bit crass. I will immediately stop any further use of the offending image.
posted by sfenders at 9:43 AM on December 12, 2014


I'm beginning to believe that, with what's at stake, we are STILL being too kind in the way we are expressing our discontent

Well, I suppose if they wanted to take it to the next level, they could have burned down a Peruvian homeless shelter, or demolished a free clinic. And then apologize for any offense taken or how it could maybe appear to other than a message of hope.

At this point, that's about the level of arrogance and stupidity of these yahoos. I'm just glad nobody's pointed them Stonehenge or the pyramids.
posted by happyroach at 10:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


European activists flew in, defaced a Peruvian monument, and it ruffled nationalistic feathers.

I'm not Peruvian and I think this Greenpeace stunt is bullshit, so please to be classifying my feathers accordingly in your assessment.

Also "defacing a national monument" to me is spray paint on a modern, replaceable statue. I am not sure this is the same thing.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was a dumb mistake

Understating it a bit. A tiny baby could have told them it was a stupid idea. What did they think would happen?

Greenpeace is made up of idiots and deserves nobodies support.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hear ya, salishsea, but unfortunately the phrase "you're a bought pawn" is really unlikely to sway this unrepentant climate change denier to vote in favor of our fracking ban, so we're going the "aquifer depletion will have a negative effect on the agriculture industry in your district" route instead, since she's also a bought pawn of Big Sugar.

*sigh*

I have to re-calibrate my own Ragefilter anger switch almost daily.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fucking morons.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: In a way, intentional desecration shows more respect for art than carelessness.
In every way, I disagree.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:50 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think the point was made clear enough for some people here, so I'll just restate it. The damage done was not just footprints, but severe damage to an extremely sensitive ecosystem of fungi, lichens, cyanobacteria, bryophytes, and algae working in concert over hundreds of years to form a delicate dirt-like crust, which helps establish desert plants, slowly forms actual, identifiable 'dirt' and contributes to the equally sensitive desert water cycle. A single footstep can take another several hundred years to reform, and the mass destruction of huge swaths (Which, despite any possible manipulation of images by anyone, I can guarantee was done without extreme caution, special gear and aid from an experienced guide.) is incredibly damaging in a way I can't even describe. It's entirely possible that the erosion caused by the removal of the crust will prevent it from even beginning to reform for decades. It's like cutting down an entire forest, just in microcosm, since that microbial life is one of the few things that can live there. It's a lot closer to those pictures of tar sands than you might think, just a scene people find less pretty.

It would be bad enough if they had simply used an incredibly ancient and sacred site for their own advertising without permission, but in advancing an 'environmental' message, they did CENTURIES of damage. I'm not certain about the climate in that part of Peru (It might rain there more than in the places I'm familiar with, which helps recovery.), but its likely that no one here, and none of our children will live to see it recover fully.

In short, for a dumb promotional photo, an environmental organization destroyed a huge part of a delicate and important ecosystem whilst simultaneously desecrating one of the more important Nazca sites and violating every possible rule of responsible desert visits, in addition to continuing their fine tradition of stomping all over native people in the name of 'Saving the Earth'.

Seriously, fuck Greenpeace, and also fuck people who defend them because they're not as bad as Big Oil. I find bad actions in the name of something good far worse than bad actions in the name of profit. At least one of them is being honest about their goals.
posted by neonrev at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2014 [22 favorites]


amtho: Please don't just yell at and punish future, hypothetical, ignorant me. Please find a way to make sure I know what you know about this and all the other stuff I haven't even imagined trying to do.
Here's some general tips, that will guide you safely through almost any such area:
Don't spraypaint.
Don't throw things or shoot at things.
Don't move things.
Don't scribe your name or message onto things.
Don't walk off-trail.
Don't collect memento objects from the site.
Don't intentionally remove or harm living things, aside from anything that incidentally happens as a result of walking on the trails.

Greenpeace intentionally violated two of those simple, fairly obvious rules.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: In a way, intentional desecration shows more respect for art than carelessness.

In every way, I disagree.


I wonder if jstyutk was trying to suggest that at least intentional desecration shows an understanding of something's importance, while carelessness doesn't?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh Cookiebastard...I have a deep empathy for that struggle. I'm there in many ways.

I wonder what kind of meeting with someone like that is ever going to be productive for your agenda. Unless you can replace that money they have, Big Sugar and Big oil will have their mouthpiece. Rational persuasion, emotional appeals and insults are all likely to fall to the screed of Mammon.
posted by salishsea at 1:17 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering:
I wonder if jstyutk was trying to suggest that at least intentional desecration shows an understanding of something's importance, while carelessness doesn't?
That's very likely, but sounds as reasonable to me as the Catholic who informed me he thought Satanists were preferable to atheists, because at least Satanists believed in God.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on December 12, 2014


That's very likely, but sounds as reasonable to me as the Catholic who informed me he thought Satanists were preferable to atheists, because at least Satanists believed in God.

So perfectly reasonable, then?

At least people who are on opposing sides of a belief system share a belief system. If I desecrate your sacred line drawings because I'm opposed to our god or whatever, at least I think they're worth something as opposed to if I just thought they were some dumb lines I happened to mess up.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


fffm and Sangermaine have explained what I was thinking.

IAmBroom, so far you've said that you disagree and that you think those who don't agree with you are unreasonable but you haven't actually given an argument or an explanation of why you think that way.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2014


signal: "Joakim Ziegler: "If Peru is anything like Latin American countries I'm familiar with

At least that always happens in Mexico.
"

Right, because there's no difference between Peru and Mexico, I mean, they both eat tacos and sing rancheras from their burros, right
"

I'm not Mexican, but I have lived here for more than a decade and a half. I also pay attention to international politics, though not so much Peru specifically. Latin American politics and public narratives do tend to follow some of the same outlines, from what I can tell. Certainly I can recognize public discourse in Argentina, Guatemala, Uruguay, and other countries I'm more or less familiar with as quite similar to public discourse in Mexico, and quite dissimilar from public discourse in the US (where I follow politics quite closely) or Europe (I'm from Norway, and follow politics in several other European countries to different degrees).

So I don't think I'm writing from a position of total ignorance here, although if you want to set me straight on how these media and political narratives usually go in Peru, since I see you're actually in country that borders it, I'm all ears.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


turned me from a lifelong kneejerk antinuclear cultist to an enthusiastic supporter of nuclear energy as a key part of combating global climate change

This kind of 180° backflip - from certainty in support of a particular position to equally committed certainty in support of its opposite - is distressingly common; zealots gonna zeal.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose public funding for nuclear power that don't involve being a "kneejerk antinuclear cultist".
posted by flabdablet at 10:05 AM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


There are plenty of reasons to oppose public funding for nuclear power that don't involve being a "kneejerk antinuclear cultist".

All of them written by the same person. Zealots gonna zeal indeed.
posted by Camofrog at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


an environmental organization destroyed a huge part of a delicate and important ecosystem

According to Snopes, it is not determined yet if Greenpeace caused any damage. Every desert is different and this one has thick hard crust. The concern from Peru officials is about disturbing the rocks changing how pristine the lines look. They will be sending a survey drone to see. The officials don't know yet what damage was done, if any.

Some verifiable problems while we wait for information on what damage, if any, occurred:

*Nazca Lines threatened by tourism. "..private flights over the sites without proper safety controls, rising levels of rubbish, and inappropriate tourism infrastructure, such as intrusive viewing platforms."

Also: "widespread paving of roads in the area as having increased flooding on the surrounding countryside" .. a flood could destroy the lines.

*Pigs and squatters threaten Peru's Nazca lines: "..Squatters have started raising pigs on the site of Peru's Nazca lines.."

*Nazca lines ripped up by quarrying operations in Peru "..some of the ancient limestone lines had been destroyed by the mining company Gálveze during the creation of quarries to access the limestone in the area."
posted by stbalbach at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's great Peruvian officials care so much about preserving the lines. I wish that would extend to responsible management of the environment around the lines.
posted by stbalbach at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2014


According to Snopes, it is not determined yet if Greenpeace caused any damage. Every desert is different and this one has thick hard crust.

I went looking on Snopes for a scientific reference for your claim that the crust at Nazca is so different from all other desert soil crusts. Snopes does not have any information on that. Do you have another source for that? It's contrary to what I'm hearing from soil ecologists (but I don't have a good link, either).
posted by hydropsyche at 4:19 PM on December 13, 2014


From Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici who spent years studying the Nazca:
BBC: The lines have lasted here for nearly 2,000 years. How can this remarkable conservation be explained?

Orefici: These lines have been left untouched by man because no-one has ever farmed this area. What's more, there's the nature of the soil itself. It's made up of clay and gypsum. The humid nights make the stones sink deeper into the soil itself. Then, during the day, the sun hardens the surface leaving the stones even more securely fixed in the soil. The wind is constant but it can't move very large stones. The wind is constant but it can't move very large stones. That's why the lines can still be seen after 2,000 years.
Here's a picture of Maria Reich, the recognized world authority and protector of the Nazca lines, walking through the lines without special shoes sweeping them with a broom, leaning her weight on the pointy end of the stick into the ground. From everything I am reading, the concern is with disturbing the rust colored pebbles which expose the while colored sand underneath. This is a good relief picture of the bird which shows the foot and hoof prints (picture date unknown). If Greenpeace contributed to this "static" around the bird remains uncertain. Surely Peru will have before and after photos.
posted by stbalbach at 7:30 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Archaeologists are not ecologists and have no reason to know about the natural world except as it relates to archaeology. I understand that you personally are not concerned about the soil microbial crust and that the prominent voices of Peru are not speaking of this in terms of the microbial crust. But that does not mean the soil microbial crust was not disrupted. And as an ecologist, that is what I'm concerned about.

(Like all ecologists, I am a shill for the oil companies and that's the only reason I'm criticizing Greenpeace.)
posted by hydropsyche at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wish that would extend to responsible management of the environment around the lines.

So do I. But just like I can complain about my mom but you'd better not say anything bad about her, the straightforward reality is that people everywhere are sensitive to outsiders coming in and overstepping boundaries. In the context of a country like Peru that has the legacies of both internal and external colonization with all the complex politics around identity, indigeneity, and history that implies, this is even more intense, but it applies everywhere.

That sensitivity applies whether or not Peru's government has done an ok job of managing those cultural resources (and probably is intensified by that history of mismanagement, in fact). The comparison might be to how it would be seen if I, as an American, spraypainted slogans on Stonehenge versus some local kid -- both would be news items, but having a foreigner do it would be seen differently.

In a NYTimes article, an official is quoted saying "that the harm was both physical and symbolic. “This stupidity has co-opted part of the identity of our heritage that will now be forever associated with the scandal of Greenpeace,” he said." Greenpeace's tonedeafness to why placing their banner on this cultural site is different than hanging it off of a bridge is remarkable and I would hope has produced some self-reflection internally.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do not share Slap*Happy's view on graffiti. I love unsanctioned art in the public square (I prefer it on viaducts and factory walls and mailboxes to private homes and small businesses, and never on historical/natural/archaeological sites) but I hate when scrawlers throw a quick tag on top of a mural or piece of art that had a lot of time put into it.

That's essentially what Greenpeace did. They put their logo and a slogan next to just an incredibly cool, not completely understood, ancient human artistic achievement just to steal it's shine.

Even if there was never any question of damage, the entirety of their goal was to, what, say "we were next to something amazing/important/cool" so we're all of those things to? If they even had one design person do a mockup on Photoshop before they talked to the ecologist (that they also seem to have forgotten to talk to), they would've surely been told "this juxtaposition doesn't make any sort of sense"
posted by elr at 8:58 AM on December 14, 2014


This was not an Greenpeace USA action and was done without approval or knowledge of Greenpeace in America. The regional offices work largely autonomously. Since most readers on MeFi are American, it's worth pointing out it was a European (German-led) Greenpeace action.

Nevertheless, Annie Leonard, Director of Greenpeace USA (author of "Story of Stuff" etc) issued a statement that is an unambiguous apology (not that earlier one).

“The decision to engage in this activity shows a complete disregard for the culture of Peru,” she wrote, “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.”
posted by stbalbach at 8:59 AM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: IAmBroom, so far you've said that you disagree and that you think those who don't agree with you are unreasonable but you haven't actually given an argument or an explanation of why you think that way.
Sure. Let's change one little word in the original thesis:
In a way, intentional desecration shows more respect for people than carelessness.

People who accidentally maim someone in a car accident show more respect for human life than someone who kidnaps and tortures a person.

Done.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:04 AM on December 14, 2014


That's a pretty silly comparison.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2014


If human life was valued for the same reasons we value art and if a faultless accident was comparable to culpable negligence there might be something to talk about here, but bringing in torture apropos of nothing more or less Godwins the conversation, so I'm out.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:02 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, this is most likely a mistake (a very big one) but more important to Greenpeace's credibility at this point would be to make public the identities of those responsible. They are instead hiding this information. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)
posted by btoast at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2014


IAmBroom: "In a way, intentional desecration shows more respect for people than carelessness."

Aliens who come to kill humans show more respect for people than aliens who just walk all over/through humans without even acknowledging their existence.
posted by Bugbread at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2014


Yup, still a silly deduction, Bugbread.

At least some of the proponents of this sillyness are out.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2014


They are instead hiding this information.

I saw the list of nationalities of participants and the name of the leader of the group. I don't have the link though. They are also out of the country and not facing jail time (unless they get extradited which seems unlikely. It's worth pointing out Peru has a racket going of putting foreigners in jail and making them pay to get out, there are over 1000 foreigners stuck in Peruvian jails and many more on parole working low paying jobs for years to pay off money before they can leave the country).
posted by stbalbach at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2014


Everyone is jerking each other off about "microbial dust", but I imagine a day or two of rain fucks with that dust on a regular basis. I think we can all agree that they shouldn't have done this, but "microbial dust" is space cadet territory.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:53 PM on December 15, 2014


Not that I care about the microbial crust angle, but you might want to look up "desert" in the dictionary. Wikipedia says Nazca gets about 4mm of rain per year. It's almost as if you couldn't be bothered to learn basic facts about the area before making your point!
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:35 PM on December 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


It also gets moisture every night from dew. Look every desert is different. The soils are different, the atmosphere is different. I've tried to find information on microbial crust in the Nazca Desert with little luck. Not to say it doesn't exist, just wondering to what extent and how serious it is. The picture of an expert walking around without special shoes sweeping the ground with a broom is suggestive.
posted by stbalbach at 7:43 AM on December 16, 2014


From the freakin' Wikipedia link about the Nazca lines -
On the ground, most of the lines are formed by a shallow trench with a depth between 10 and 15 cm (4 and 6 in). Such trenches were made by removing the reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles that cover the surface of the Nazca Desert. When this gravel is removed, the light-colored clay earth which is exposed in the bottom of the trench produces lines which contrast sharply in color and tone with the surrounding land surface. This sublayer contains high amounts of lime which, with the morning mist, hardens to form a protective layer that shields the lines from winds, thereby preventing erosion.
So this wasn't a matter of disturbing a layer of microbial crust. It was a matter of disturbing the topsoil, compounded by the fact that the underlayer of soil reacts to the air in such a way that the exposed undersoil is pretty much effectively laminated into place.

Other deserts have microbial crust, and it is a bad thing to disturb it, yes. However, the Nazca desert doesn't. Nevertheless, the Nazca desert does have conditions which render any kind of disturbance to the lines an effectively permanent one, which makes what Greenpeace did a freakin' stupid thing to do.

So this isn't a matter of Greenpeace having disturbed a living thing and that being bad, it's a matter of them having disturbed a culturally and archeologically significant site and that being bad. It's not like being the guy who introduced the cane toad, it's more being the guys who destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on December 16, 2014


Whatever the Greenpeace volunteers did, they certainly didn't dig down 4-6 inches. The visible damage, at least around the Hummingbird itself, seems to have come from rolling over pebbles that had a dark patina on their tops, exposing their lighter undersides and the lighter dirt beneath. If this was done randomly it probably wouldn't be noticeable, but it was concentrated in certain places, making it apparent.

The Nazca lines have been damaged by torrential rains quite recently, but this damage was described as 'reversible.' I imagine that the Greenpeace damage could also be fixed by restoring or re-randomizing the pebbles, or would heal itself.
posted by Flashman at 9:21 AM on December 16, 2014




PBS Newshour has a clip with what they say is recent drone footage of the claimed damage to the lines, which is in the area Greenpeace used for their message. If it was caused by Greenpeace, it's pretty stark. It's both possible for the government's response in how they respond to some Nazca line threats vs. this stunt to vary under political pressure and for Greenpeace to have done a stupid and irresponsible thing. Whether or not the damage can be repaired, they decided to move within a sensitive archaeological and ecological area without doing any research or damage mitigation. Even if the damage can be repaired, will Greenpeace pick up the tab? Or will it be added to the resource burden of supporting a site threatened by numerous factors?
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:20 PM on December 16, 2014


Yes, a more specific term for the microbial crust in Nazca is desert varnish. That does not mean it's not a microbial crust. It is commonly thought that microbes are involved in the formation of desert varnish. Because they grow so slowly, understanding exactly how they form is still a topic of study.

From freaking National Geographic:

Desert varnishes form very slowly, in some cases over tens of thousands of years. How these coatings, only about as thick as a sheet of paper, grow on desert rocks is poorly understood, according to Joseph McAuliffe of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Bacteria baking in the desert sun may actually concentrate darker minerals on exposed rock surfaces, he suggests, with the varnish essentially serving as a microbial sunscreen.

The Greenpeace activists drew Peru's ire as much for potential damage done to this delicate desert surface as for trespassing.


Here's a really old research paper on fungi and bacteria that form desert varnish, to show this isn't just something I made up a few days ago to piss people off with.

Here's a more modern paper describing how scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging helps us better understand how desert varnishes are formed

There is also a lot of speculation about the texture of the surface of Mars as seen by Curiosity resembling a desert varnish and whether that is evidence of microbial life on Mars.

Just as websites on the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Gettysburg Battlefield or Normandy Beach don't necessarily mention the ecology of those places, resources on Nazca don't always talk about its ecology. But desert ecology is super cool.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:30 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


1. Greenpeace did some damage and they should make reparations in whatever way appropriate.

2. It's become clear in this thread Nazca lines have much bigger problems. Squatters, pigs, mining operations, flooding caused by deforestation and climate change, new roads and heavy tourism -- are currently damaging or destroying Nazca lines. The Peruvian government is not doing enough to protect its heritage and ironically the burden to do so may lay with non-profit organizations, probably a lot of donations from outside Peru.

3. The Nazca Lines are man-made monuments and it is common for man-made monuments to be maintained, repaired. People have been disturbing the site since day 1 and it may be romantic to believe it can be frozen in time. The pyramids, Great Sphinx, etc. have all been repaired and maintained. The lines may have spiritual significance but at the end of the day they are just natural material disturbed to build a man-made sculpture. They say it's impossible to fix the damage but I can think of ways to do so, for visual effect, if one is willing to step beyond a natural process frozen in time point of view, and instead look at it as a man-made sculpture created by disturbing natural features.
posted by stbalbach at 6:13 AM on December 22, 2014


« Older It's a Long Way Down, Baby.   |   Teeth like swords, claws like spears Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments