Climate Scorekeepers Can't Keep Their Grades Straight

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green Apple logoGreenpeace, which has been blown off by one of its co-founders because of its radical behavior, often leaves itself open to easy ridicule – for example, by the promotion of dirty energy sources. Now they’ve done it again.

Only 1½ years ago Greenpeace cheered Apple Computer for its departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its disagreement on cap-and-trade and federal climate change policy. With Al Gore on the board of directors, you understand what side of the issue the company is on.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when Greenpeace this week slammed Apple in a report on the electricity sources (coal, nuclear, gas, renewables, etc.) technology companies use for their “cloud” computing offerings. Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon provide many of their services (like searches, social interaction, product sales, email, and in Apple's case, iTunes) from servers based at massive data “farms,” located at various spots around the country. Because the data are not on individuals’ personal computers (or Macs) but stored on the servers, they are thought of as “up in the cloud.”

As you can imagine, these farms demand a lot of electricity, so the companies that own them are interested in the lowest-cost power possible, which means nuclear power (also opposed by Greenpeace), or coal- or natural gas-fired generation. But those fossil fuels run afoul of the environmental pressure groups’ desires for everyone to use expensive renewables like wind or solar.

So the Greenpeace report comes out, and it appears that profitability is winning at Apple over Gore’s climate alarmism, as The Guardian reports:

Apple has come bottom of the most comprehensive green league table of technology companies because of its heavy reliance on "dirty data" centres.

The list, which is compiled by Greenpeace and released in San Francisco on Thursday, shows that the company relies heavily on highly polluting coal power at the sites that house its banks of servers.

Greenpeace's report, “How Dirty is Your Data?” reveals that the company's investment in a new North Carolina facility will triple its electricity consumption, equivalent to the electricity demand of 80,000 average US homes. The facility's power will be supplied by Duke Energy, with a mix of 62 percent coal and 32 percent nuclear. On Wednesday, Apple posted a large boost in quarterly earnings, which grew by 95 percent to $6 billion.

Here is how Greenpeace ranked the major technology companies in its “Clean Cloud Power Report Card,” in order from cleanest to dirtiest: Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple.

But wait – Greenpeace appears to contradict the evaluations of another self-appointed expert on corporate climate compliance. Climate Counts, which is a front group of organic dairy company Stonyfield Farm and was featured by NLPC last month, ranks the same technology companies in the following order from best “commitment to fight global warming,” to worst: Hewlett- Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo!, Amazon. Climate Counts did not assess Twitter or Facebook.

So if you’re trying to make sense of climate alarmists’ logic, here are the respective scores on what technology companies are best and worst in the fight against global warming:

These evaluations align with the climate alarmists’ logic that human-caused global warming leads to both snowfall increases and less snow; both more rain and drought; and both more and less colorful trees.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Paul Chesser is associate fellow for National Legal and Policy Center and is executive director for American Tradition Institute.