An organization that bills itself as an environmental watchdog can't claim it's an archaeological one after an incident in Peru that's left that country steaming. Earlier this week, 20 Greenpeace activists with a clean-energy message for officials meeting in Lima for UN climate talks spread huge yellow cloths spelling out "Time for Change; The Future Is Renewable" across a plot of land, the AP reports. That plot of land, unfortunately, was a section of the Nazca lines, a revered archaeological wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site that features giant geoglyphs between 1,500 and 2,000 years old etched into the earth. A Greenpeace Facebook post from earlier in the week stated that "absolutely NO damage was done," but Peruvian officials say footprints left behind in the desert as the group set up their protest materials could hang around for "hundreds or thousands of years."
Even country leaders have to secure permission to walk on Nazca ground and must wear special footwear, the Washington Post reports. "It's a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred," a Peruvian culture minister told news agencies, the BBC notes. Greenpeace has apologized for the "moral offense" and issued a statement saying it "came across as careless and crass." The statement went on to say Greenpeace will "co-operate fully with any investigation" and will accept any "fair and reasonable consequences" imposed. The government is looking to prosecute the offenders for "attacking archaeological monuments"; those convicted could face up to six years in prison, notes the AP. (Greenpeace had some trouble in Russia not too long ago.)