Greenpeace criticizes Apple for carbon footprint of iPad cloud

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Because the iPad will further the growing market for cloud computing, international environmental advocacy group has criticized Apple's newest hardware for having "a much larger carbon footprint than previously estimated."



The new report from Greenpeace issued this week claims that "quintessential cloud computing devices," like Apple's iPad, raise questions about how the Internet is powered. Specifically, the nongovernmental organization said increase demand for online services will also result in a larger demand for "dirty coal power."



"To be clear: We are not picking on Apple," the group said. "We are not dissing the iPad. But maybe someone can come up with an app that calculates the carbon footprint of using different web sites based on their location and energy deals.



"Apple is the master of promotion, and while we marvel at the sleek unpolluted design of the iPad, we need to think about where this is all leading and how like all good surfers we can make sure our environment stays clean and green."



The report, entitled "Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change," concludes that connected mobile devices like the iPad will increase the use of online services like social networks and video streaming. The report noted that Facebook recently announced the construction of its own data center in Prineville, Oregon that will primarily run on coal.



The report states that data centers and telecommunication networks will consume about 1,963 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2020, which is more than triple their current consumption and over half of the total electricity consumption in America. Devices like the iPad, the environmental group suggests, will only add to global warming pollution.



"As the cloud grows, the IT industry's appetite for energy will only increase, so the industry must become strong advocates for renewable energy solutions and strong laws that cut global warming pollution," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International campaigner. "IT companies like Microsoft, Google, and IBM are now in powerful positions at the local, national, and international levels to influence policies that will allow them to grow responsibly in a way that will decouple their economic growth from rising greenhouse gas emissions."







When Apple introduced the iPad in January, it touted the environmental checklist for the construction of the new hardware. The company noted that the device is free of arsenic, brominated flame retardant, mercury, polyvinyl chloride, and is highly recyclable.



Greenpeace's attitude toward Apple has improved significantly over the last few years, with the environmental group ranking the Mac maker the greenest electronics maker earlier this year. The praise was quite a change from just a few years ago, when Greenpeace was targeting Apple over the use of toxic chemicals in its products.



Last Year, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs revealed that Greenpeace's actions played a part in his company eventually promoting its green focus in public. He said the company's tight-lipped approach, particularly on public policy issues, hurt its image with environmental organizations.



Last September, Apple began reporting its hardware carbon emissions, and touting its environmentally friendly hardware. The Cupertino, Calif., company said less than 5 percent of its emissions come from manufacturing facilities, while more than 95 percent of Apple's greenhouse gases are from use of the products they make.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 147
    oflifeoflife Posts: 120member
    (And I don't mean Toshiba!) I'm an avid greeny, but this sort of comment is yet more in the armoury of those who find the movement lacking in credibility. The solution to the world's woes is NOT energy saving (too complicated, impractical and expensive), but in fact to switch to renewable sustainable sources - such as solar, where it doesn't really matter how much we use. The aim should be to source energy that is clean and uncorrupt.



    I shall be ordering our iPad and focusing my energies on promoting solar energy as the way forward by using it to update a forthcoming blog and eShop at LifeMachine.com. No plug intended.
  • Reply 2 of 147
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,227member
    Oh well. Bothered.
  • Reply 3 of 147
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,967member
    I think the right way to look at this is to see the emergence of "the cloud" as a great opportunity to improve the environmental impact of computing relative to a model in which all of the computing power lies with the client. Far easier to influence how power is generated for a single, centrally located server than to influence how power is generated for a million geographically dispersed clients. For example, it's easier to get google to install solar panels on the roof of their giant data center than to get every individual who uses that data center to install solar panels.
  • Reply 4 of 147
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 517member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    I think the right way to look at this is to see the emergence of "the cloud" as a great opportunity to improve the environmental impact of computing relative to a model in which all of the computing power lies with the client. Far easier to influence how power is generated for a single, centrally located server than to influence how power is generated for a million geographically dispersed clients. For example, it's easier to get google to install solar panels on the roof of their giant data center than to get every individual who uses that data center to install solar panels.



    I totally agree. It should be much more easy to power a large data centre by 'green energy' as for example powering cars - probably a much worse pollutant than the iPad. Maybe doing some things on the go using the internet prevents people from using their car and go somewhere to do it ...?
  • Reply 5 of 147
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,967member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Oflife View Post


    (And I don't mean Toshiba!) I'm an avid greeny, but this sort of comment is yet more in the armoury of those who find the movement lacking in credibility. The solution to the world's woes is NOT energy saving (too complicated, impractical and expensive), but in fact to switch to renewable sustainable sources - such as solar, where it doesn't really matter how much we use. The aim should be to source energy that is clean and uncorrupt.



    Hmm... I almost agree with you. I think the problem with groups like Greenpeace is that they appear to be suggesting that they would prefer that economic growth be halted or reversed. Whenever they complain about any specific economic activity, it always sounds like they just want the activity stopped, not that they want it to be done more efficiently or using greener energy sources. That line of argument is anti-progress, anti-human, and isn't going to convince anyone.



    But I don't agree that making efforts to save energy are too complicated, expensive, or impractical. In fact, in many cases, saving energy is less complicated, less expensive, and more practical than alternative energy sources. For example, there are a lot of drafty houses out there that could save a lot of energy through adding better windows or insulation. I'm all for alternative energy sources, but energy efficiency is also important and useful.
  • Reply 6 of 147
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,746member
    Because the iPad will further the growing market for cloud computing, international environmental advocacy group has criticized Apple's newest hardware for having "a much larger carbon footprint than previously estimated."



    The new report from Greenpeace issued this week claims that "quintessential cloud computing devices," like Apple's iPad, raise questions about how the Internet is powered. Specifically, the nongovernmental organization said increase demand for online services will also result in a larger demand for "dirty coal power."




    So Apple's products are green enough, but look what Apple started??
  • Reply 7 of 147
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,967member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacApfel View Post


    I totally agree. It should be much more easy to power a large data centre by 'green energy' as for example powering cars - probably a much worse pollutant than the iPad. Maybe doing some things on the go using the internet prevents people from using their car and go somewhere to do it ...?



    Perhaps a more likely substitute is a big screen TV. What uses more power -- me sitting on the couch watching my 50" plasma or me sitting on the couch surfing the web, reading a book, etc on an iPad? Even if you add in the (relatively tiny) power consumption on the server-end, I bet the iPad scenario uses less energy than the plasma TV scenario.



    And actually, i wonder how using an iPad compares to reading a book. Sure, the book doesn't have a battery, but the book had to be physically shipped around the country rather than digitally transmitted, and the book requires paper. I bet that the marginal cost of another book on the iPad is far less than the marginal cost of buying another book from a store.



    I definitely think the mistake that Greenpeace is making here is the mistake of focusing on one big thing that is actually smaller than the summation of all the little things that it replaces. Kind of like how people get all bent out of shape about the big container ships --- yes, they pollute a lot, but not nearly as much as alternative forms of shipping. They're just more visible than those alternatives because they're bigger.
  • Reply 8 of 147
    Yes!



    Which is more efficient and has less impact on the ecosystem:



    50 people watching movies, reading books or shopping on their iPads



    or



    50 people jumping in 50 cars, driving 3 miles and back to a theater, library or market.



    I suspect that cloud computing results in an overall positive impact rather than a negative one.



    Why not study that, Greenpeace?



    *



    BTW, jusr got shipping confirmation... my iPolluter arrives on Saturday.



    *
  • Reply 9 of 147
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Do they have a solution on how to power the server farms with solar panels? I didn't think so. The tec just isn't there yet.



    And what about nuclear energy that big hush hush by all parties involved, that's pretty clean?!?!?! Right?



    How about these big plasma screens, consuming in a week, what the ipad will consume probably in all it's life cycle of use.



    This is a mess of statement by greenpeace, it's utter garbage actually, if they wan't to be taken seriously they got to do better than that...
  • Reply 10 of 147
    Some very good posts above. Greenpeace has totally lost it here. They understand neither basic economics nor how to measure the impact of carbon footprints.



    Moreover, few companies are more on top of their carbon footprint and in efforts to manage it than Apple is.
  • Reply 11 of 147
    rob55rob55 Posts: 1,255member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    But I don't agree that making efforts to save energy are too complicated, expensive, or impractical. In fact, in many cases, saving energy is less complicated, less expensive, and more practical than alternative energy sources. For example, there are a lot of drafty houses out there that could save a lot of energy through adding better windows or insulation. I'm all for alternative energy sources, but energy efficiency is also important and useful.



    Totally agreed here. The university campus where I work routinely leaves hundreds of computers idling away in un-occupied classrooms and labs, oftentimes with the lights on in the room as well.

    In this specific example, a little conservation and efficiency could go a long way. I'm sure I could easily run my entire house with the energy wasted here (and then some).
  • Reply 12 of 147
    s4mb4s4mb4 Posts: 267member
    actualy, google campus is already 20% powered by a green device called a BloomBox. greenpeace is worried about the cloud, they should look at what the BIGGEST internet search site has already done. idiots.
  • Reply 13 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post




    Why not study that, Greenpeace?



    *



    Because Greenpeace needs large entities to be the enemy to a) generate headlines and b) not blame the average Joe, whose donations they live off of.
  • Reply 14 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by swtchdtomak View Post


    Because Greenpeace needs large entities to be the enemy to a) generate headlines and b) not blame the average Joe, whose donations they live off of.



    very true
  • Reply 15 of 147
    schmidm77schmidm77 Posts: 223member
    Greenpeace just needed to get a press release out into the public, so that they can continue to believe that most people even take them seriously.
  • Reply 16 of 147
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    This is just silly. How much power does the iTunes data centre use compared to the CD, DVD and book printing factories it replaces? As someone else mentioned, how much power does a 10 minute movie download use compared to driving to the video store and back?
  • Reply 17 of 147
    They always find something to pic apart! I can't believe I used to back such an organization... Good fight Greenpeace. L0l.
  • Reply 18 of 147
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    This is just silly. How much power does the iTunes data centre use compared to the CD, DVD and book printing factories it replaces? As someone else mentioned, how much power does a 10 minute download use compared to driving to the video store and back?



    I am laughing in real life right now! This isn't an "Lol" on the web laugh, it's for real! Thank you for the comment.
  • Reply 19 of 147
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    Greenpeace will not be happy as long as people inhabit the planet.



    Also, gotta wonder what their carbon footprint looks like.
  • Reply 20 of 147
    I think the largest carbon footprint is all of Greenpeace's hot air. Idiots
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