Analysis International hippie* collective Greenpeace has issued a "Cool IT leaderboard" of apparently randomly selected major firms which it has assigned meaningless self-generated scores intended to indicate how eco-friendly the companies are.
The list includes Google (top ranked with a score of 53 out of a possible 100) and other major names like Cisco, Microsoft, Dell and Oracle. However many others including Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Sony and Amazon (to name just a few) don't appear.
Also missing is Facebook, which is odd as the giant social network has lately been much loved-up by the hippies for issuing a meaningless agreement [PDF] - containing not a single number or date other than that of its publication - stating that its "goal is to power all of our operations with clean and renewable energy".
The "leaderboard" scores for those firms listed include sub-ratings from Greenpeace on "solutions" and "energy impact", though these mostly don't reflect much in the way of actual carbon-emissions savings, as you can score big simply by announcing plans and targets or releasing figures (in effect the scores reflect a willingness, or lack of willingness, to have any dialogue with the hippies at all).
In any case as most estimates indicate that the IT sector is responsible for a few percent of humanity's greenhouse-gas burden at best, even the most swingeing genuine cuts in IT-biz emissions wouldn't mean a whole lot in the doomsday global-warming scenarios advocated by Greenpeace**. This is perhaps why there's another scoring area, "advocacy", where each IT company is rated on its efforts to push green policies on governments and the energy sector.
In theory this ought to be a place where the hippies could get some traction, as the tech biz heavies don't actually use very much energy in Western countries - not compared to other industries anyway. They wouldn't mind too much if Western energy prices went up, provided this happened to their competitors too: as electricity and other energy prices rise, they could flog a lot of IT equipment for smart metering, smart grids and the like, kit which is only marginally necessary at best given current prices. And with Western political leaders often seeming rather mesmerised by IT companies at the moment, they might have the clout to get some policies in place.
But it seems that the IT majors are nonetheless unwilling to be seen as trying to hurt the Western economies in these times of hardship.
“The IT sector might like to consider itself forward-thinking, but it is keeping far too quiet while the dirty energy industry continues to exert undue influence on both the political process and financial markets," laments Greenpeace IT hippy Gary Cook.
As you were, then. ®
* We've had various mail and comments from people who object to the characterisation of Greenpeace as a bunch of hippies. We would refer you to the words of Greenpeace International's Director of Information Technology & New Media, Brian Fitzgerald, a multi-decade veteran of the organisation and its top worldwide mouthpiece and IT expert. In an induction speech for new Greenpeace people which he has given "again and again and again" he says:
Aha, I see a few of you cringing — but you’re in Greenpeace now... I’m here to tell you, kids, a hard truth: your parents were hippies. And I hope you’re sitting down, because it’s genetic. Which means you’re hippies too ... everything you’ve heard about Hippies is wrong. Hippies have been trashed by history and mass media because they were the ultimate threat to power and the status quo.
I spent a winter writing poetry and communing with nature and all that hippy stuff. The cabin belonged to a doctor in Boston ... miraculous victories that this group of hippies pulled off in the early days of Greenpeace, despite (or maybe because of) fuck ups like sailing in circles because somebody put the magnetic tape player on the compass so they could listen to the Grateful Dead, or sailing along the track of the moon or following a rainbow in search of the Russian whaling fleet...
And if you, dear hippies, are going to make a difference in this organization, you’re going have to embrace that madness. You’re just gonna have to honor your hippy roots, find your inner mystic...
So, welcome hippies... hold on to your hippy heart.
If you work for Greenpeace, you're a hippy - it's compulsory. This is just a fact, and one confirmed by the organisation itself. QED - Greenpeace are a bunch of hippies.
** Though there is plenty of respectable science casting doubt on these, and many respectable figures doubt the need for any especially urgent action. Nobody's saying temperatures didn't go up a bit in the last decades of the last century: but quite a few people doubt that this heralds the end of the world, or offers a valid reason to abandon economic growth.
In any case it's quite clear that most of the major emitters - the USA, China and soon, other emerging mega-economies - have no intention whatsoever of cutting emissions. This is because the idea that a reasonably comfortable human civilisation can run on renewable power is comically unrealistic and - in large part thanks to Greenpeace - the option to move to nuclear power is seen as too much effort, so the debate is all a bit academic really.