April 21, 2011
Greenpeace, the non-governmental environmental organization, is accusing Apple of being the worst tech companies in the world, in terms of its influence on the environment. Specially, the organization targets Apple’s so called “dirty data” centers, like the one built in Maiden, North Carolina. The report, which is available here, was highlighted by The Guardian. The report looks at tech companies and their reliance on coal. Apple ranked dead last, with Greenpeace claiming 54.5 percent of its energy is obtained by the use of coal. This is followed by Facebook (53.2 percent), IBM (51.6 percent), HP (49.4 percent) , and Twitter (42.5 percent). According to Greenpeace, Duke Energy will supply the new facility’s power, with a mix of 62 percent coal and 32 percent power. Once it goes online, the data center will increase Apple’s overall energy consumption to a level equivalent to powering 80,000 U.S. homes. Apple announced the 500,000 square feet North Carolina data center in 2009. When it goes online, it will be five times the size of Apple's current Newark, California data center, according to Ars Technica. It is expected to be used to support Apple's iTunes and MobileMe service. According to Gary Cook, Greenpeace’s IT policy analyst and lead author of the report:
"Consumers want to know that when they upload a video or change their Facebook status that they are not contributing to global warming or future Fukushimas."However, Jonathan Koomey, a project scientist for the End-Use Forecasting Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says the technology community has wrongly attracted criticism. He states:
"The use of IT often reduces environmental impacts. When we compared greenhouse gas emissions for downloading music to buying it on a CD, for example, we found downloads reduced emissions 40-80%."This isn’t the first time Greenpeace has targeted Apple’s environmental record. In 2006, it claimed "All (It) Wants is a Green Apple." Since then, it has published a number of reports offering both praise and condemnation for the tech giant. For its part, Apple has implemented a number of environmental initiatives, which it lists on its website. What do you think? Leave your comments below.