Greenpeace takes on cloud computing
As much as you may be feeling the laptop love, the tablet tenderness or the deep desktop devotion, computers are a major source of social conflict and environmental damage. They contain precious metals such as gold, tin and cobalt, the mining of which results in civil conflicts in African countries like the Congo. The production of computers (especially in China) result in massive outpourings of pollution and often dismal working conditions like those recently exposed at Foxconn factories where iPads are made. Transportation, distribution and disposal of computers piles on the carbon and creates landfill fodder. Now Greenpeace is raising another objection to Apple, claiming its coal-fueled data centers are causing air pollution.
Green grids are a new phenomenon to sweep the computer world as more users opt to get the energy that drives their cyber worlds from greener sources. They may not be able to do anything about the conditions of workers or the carbon footprint of their hardware (although Apple has been singled out recently, reports claim that other computer manufacturers are equally culpable), they can do something about the impact hardware has on the environment once its theirs. All kilowatt hours of energy are not created equally and Greenpeace’s How Green is my Cloud campaign hopes to draw attention to the coal and nuclear plants that power many cloud computing hosting companies like Apple and Amazon.
Greenpeace has already enjoyed some success with similar campaigns such as the ‘Unfriend Coal’ campaign which got Facebook fans to successfully petition for renewable sources of energy to power the Facebook data center rather than the coal-fueled power sources it had been using.
In addition to campaigning larger companies to reduce their reliance on coal as an energy source, individual users are also opting for green grids. Where local energy suppliers enable users to choose, more and more home and business owners elect to get their power only from renewable sources. As customers demand greener products, so big industry strives to fulfill this evolving need and to outpace competitors. Get your voices heard; if you are into green living, opt for green energy on your local grid or petition your local energy provider for the option to do so.
Write to your favorite electronic manufacturer and ask for greener manufacturing processes, better treatment of workers and recycling options that really work. Sign the Greenpeace petition to get Apple and Amazon to stop using coal to fuel their cloud computing data centers.
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