Sunday, May 06, 2012

Greenpeace - looks like stupid works?

First of all, I'm not writing this because I make much of my living from supporting Apple products. Let that be clear!

Now, on to the main event... Greenpeace is staging protests in North Carolina targeted at Duke Energy - and using Apple as the focal point of their protests. Their theme is "Apple, clean the cloud". This refers to the fact that Apple's main iCloud data center is located in Maiden, NC (they've started building a second one in Prineville, OR, right next to Facebook's data center there). They've even succeeded in muddying the waters a little, based on the coverage of their latest protest when they blocked a coal train and had several people arrested.

But it's basically BS. Apple doesn't take deliveries of coal (unlike what the story said). Apple (and for that matter, anyone who operates a large data center) builds their data centers based on a few easy criteria. Available cheap land, local governments that will let you build, proximity to carrier fiber backbones (usually run down rail lines and interstate highways), and availability of labor. They don't build power plants, and they don't have any say in who does.

Not to mention in the case of Apple, they've been investing in solar arrays and Bloom Box fuel cells to provide much of their power. Is it Apple's fault that Duke Energy operates a lot of coal plants? Hell no! Would Apple be happy if Duke used some wind turbines? Hell yeah!

But to muddy the waters by using the customer who has no choice in the matter as to where to buy their power and equating them with the power company? I support the efforts of environmental groups to help us fix what we've done to our climate. I want to see emissions reduced. I'm even OK with a wind turbine here in Salem (as I said when I was running for office). But Greenpeace likes to use strategies and stunts that detract from the good work they do perform - and that kind of grandstanding I can't support. Apple's not the first company they've targeted this way, and it annoys me when they do. Greenpeace, sorry - but you're off our donations list for the foreseeable future. Get real, and you'l get us back.

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