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Activists Spotlight Apple’s Dirty Energy in New York and San Francisco

Energy

Greenpeace USA

Today Greenpeace activists are demonstrating at Apple stores in San Francisco, New York and Toronto asking Apple to “Clean our Cloud” as part of a campaign to get the company to power its massive data centers with renewable energy instead of coal.

“People around the world want to use their iPhones and iPads with the knowledge that our cloud is being powered by clean energy, not dirty pollution pumped out of coal-fired smokestacks,” said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International executive director.

At stores on Fifth Ave. in New York and on Stockton St. in San Francisco, Greenpeace activists released hundreds of black balloons in the stores with cartoon clouds printed on them to represent the dirty cloud.  A “cloud cleaning crew” in uniform is miming cleaning up the store using white squeegees and other cleaning materials, and other activists are changing the home screens of the computers to cleanourcloud.com. In San Francisco, activists are passing out business cards that say “We can't really clean the cloud with a squeegee or a mop. But Apple can clean our cloud. Join Greenpeace and urge Apple to power our cloud with renewable energy. Find out how at www.cleanourcloud.com.

“Of all the IT companies we’ve examined in our recent report ‘How Clean is Your Cloud?’ Apple has the greatest potential to lead the sector in renewable energy and innovation,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International senior policy analyst. “Their history of out-of-the-box thinking and huge cash reserves positions them as the best IT company to transform the sector.”

“How Clean is Your Cloud?” evaluated 14 IT companies based on key elements needed to build a clean cloud, including the electricity supply chain of more than 80 data centers associated with major brands. The report found that Google and Yahoo are showing commitment to clean energy while Apple, Amazon and Microsoft rely heavily on outdated coal and nuclear energy to deliver their clouds.

Apple has made an investment in solar energy to provide a part of the current power for its growing data center in North Carolina, but they can do much more to clean up their rapidly growing iCloud. Despite their claims, they haven’t disclosed enough information about how they will provide power for their data centre in Prineville to prove that it will be powered with renewables. Apple should commit to greater transparency, follow the lead of Facebook, who has committed to power its data centers with renewable energy, and set a policy to build future data centers in locations that have access to renewable energy.  Apple can also use their market power to encourage utilities like Duke Energy, which will partly power their North Carolina data center, to provide clean energy options and stop the use of mountaintop removal coal.

Companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritizing access to renewable energy in siting their data centers, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers. Greenpeace is calling on all IT companies with cloud services, including Apple, to:

  • Be more transparent about their energy usage and carbon footprint, and to share innovative solutions so that the sector as a whole can improve.
  • Commit to powering the cloud with renewable energy, and make access to renewable energy a key factor in deciding where to build future datacenters.
  • Invest in or directly purchase renewable energy.
  • Demand that governments and electric utilities increase the amount of renewable electricity available on the grid.

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"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

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The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

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