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Trendspotting: Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of the Cloud

Did the Greenpeace “Clean our Cloud” campaign nudge Apple toward a stronger environmental stance?

Greenpeace

Greenpeace demands a cleaner iCloud at Apple's corporate campus.

Since April, the environmental organization Greenpeace has had a bull’s-eye on Apple in its campaign to clean up the Internet “Cloud” that stores our music, apps, and photos. It’s accused Apple of using high-carbon “dirty fuels” like coal to power its new data center in North Carolina and has used dramatic pranks and slick videos to get consumers involved.

Last week, members of Greenpeace barricaded themselves in a giant iPod at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters and dressed as giant iPhones to demand a cleaner iCloud. Two days later, in a rare demonstration of transparency, Apple released a detailed statement explaining how its new data center would be 100% green. The whole drama made me curious to learn how the Cloud’s power source and growth could impact the environment.

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Greenpeace Urges Facebook to “Unfriend Coal”

Greenpeace gives Facebook a deadline to clean up its act…on Facebook.

Navajo Generating Station, a coal plant, located near Lake Powell in AZ (Photo: Gretchen Weber)

With its stepped-up “Facebook: Unfriend Coal” campaign, Greenpeace is calling on the Palo Alto-based company to become coal-free by 2021, to be transparent about its carbon footprint, and to advocate for clean energy sources at all levels of government. And it wants a public commitment by April, 22: Earth Day.

“We’re saying, ‘Look, you’re being looked at as a leader in the technology space, and the corporate space, and to be using 19th century technology to power your 21st century company doesn’t make sense,” said Casey Harrell of Greenpeace.

Facebook drew some criticism last January when it announced plans to construct a data center in Oregon.  Despite high efficiency standards and plans for facility-wide LEED Gold certification, environmental groups protested the data center’s energy source; a utility that is powered largely by burning coal. Continue reading