Greenpeace's Data Center Sideshows Don't Help Much by Doug Mohney
Greenpeace has secured another round of press clippings in its ongoing "Battle" for a better world, this time for upgrading Apple's green data center policy from a D to a C. It is a shame brand names used for a quick PR hit by Greenpeace couldn't get the sort of trademark protection extended to such events as the Super Bowl or the Olympics, because the organization loves fights with the highest Q Scores.
In "A Clean Energy Road Map for Apple," Greenpeace takes Apple to task for not providing enough details about how it will power iCloud without coal. It's almost funny when put into context. We're talking about Apple, a company that has a dedicated Wikipedia page called "Criticism of Apple Inc." and is cited for sending a bunch of police to shake down a Gizmodo editor that had purchased a misplaced iPhone prototype.
Apple gets a "D" for "Energy Transparency" and gets upgraded to a "C" for its grades in the “Renewables and Advocacy” and “Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation," mostly based on a bunch of press announcements and coverage on the company's plans on how it will get away from coal and nuclear energy.
Greenpeace is more than kind enough to provide its own ideas on how Apple should run its business in its 13 page publication -- quite kind, considering the amount of free press the organization has garnered by featuring Apple in its attacks over the years and how much Apple hardware the organization uses.
Exactly how much Apple hardware and services Greenpeace uses is unknown, because the organization has no "IT transparency" policy, just like it doesn't have a "Energy Transparency" policy to talk about how much coal and nuclear energy its servers in the Northern Virginia area consume.
Let's say Apple follows Greenpeace's recommendations to the letter. The organization will have cleaned up a whole three large data centers. That would leave it with 13 other global IT companies it singled out in "How Clean is Your Cloud?" to write reports and recommendations. If we expand the list further, we could go with cleaning up the Fortune 500, plus larger government and non-profits that run their own data centers.
Greenpeace will argue its efforts in shaming big brand names like Apple and Facebook are only helping the greater good to save the planet. But it might make more sense to start building bridges for establishing coalitions of best practice, leveraging the influence of a larger group of companies to move policy in a unified fashion more efficiently than to pick on one Apple or Facebook at a time.