Activists from Greenpeace carried out a publicity stunt that has officials in Peru highly upset with the environmental group. National Greenpeace officials later apologized for the event, stating they are "deeply disappointed" in the actions.

Greenpeace leaders in Peru placed a message next to the Hummingbird geoglyph on Dec. 8. The message read "Time for Change. The Future is Renewable. Greenpeace," emblazoned in bright yellow letters against the tawny background of the desert. The publicity stunt was timed to coincide with a United Nations climate conference being held in the capital city of Lima.

The act was quickly criticized by some observers, including directors of their own organization in the United States.

"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," Annie Leonard, Greenpeace U.S. executive director, said.

The fragile environment of the region, located 225 miles south of Lima, may have been adversely affected by the publicity stunt, according to Peruvian officials. The geoglyph is closed to human traffic.

Greenpeace members did walk single-file in a one-mile trek to the geoglyph and entered the protected area, where they laid the letterings.

The desert surface in the region consists of a thin rocky layer, covering a base of white sand. By walking in the area, interlopers upset the upper crust, exposing the white sand beneath the rocks. There is no known technique to replace the stones to their original condition.

"We are not ready to accept apologies from anybody. Let them apologize after they repair the damage," Luis Jaime Castillo, vice minister for cultural heritage in Peru, told the press. Castillo stated his belief it may not be possible to repair damage caused by the activists.

The Nazca people created several massive geoglyphs, hundreds of feet across, representing birds, plants, animals, and geometric shapes. No one is certain why the figures were created, or what their purpose was in the ancient society. Most researchers believe they may have had a religious significance. The Hummingbird geoglyph, the most recognized of the figures, was created 1,500 years ago.

Greenpeace was founded between 1969 and 1972 and currently maintains offices in over 40 countries. The organization is known for direct, non-violent disobedience. Marine vessels from the group frequently block whale hunting by moving between the marine mammals and the ships targeting them.

"The message is directed at world leaders and ministers at the ongoing UN climate talks in Lima, who are failing to take real climate action, while countries like the Philippines, which is again being battered by a massive typhoon, are paying the price of their inaction," Greenpeace officials stated in a press release on Dec. 8 announcing the PR stunt.

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