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Apple: Greenpeace's Cloud Critique Driven By Bogus Numbers

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the check-the-figures dept.

Earth 188

miller60 writes "Apple says Greenpeace has wildly overestimated the amount of power it uses in its data center in North Carolina, and used that bad math to give the company a low grade on sustainability. Apple says it uses 20 megawatts of power at its iDataCenter, a fraction of Greenpeace's estimate of 100 megawatts in a new report on energy use by cloud computing providers. Apple says that its huge solar array and biogas-powered fuel cell will supply 60 percent of the facility's power, not the 10 percent claimed by Greenpeace."

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188 comments

Fight the power! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725659)

No, wait...

Excellent... (5, Funny)

mekkab (133181) | about 2 years ago | (#39725673)

This was a subtle ploy by data center competitors to use Greenpeace to get Apple to reveal their power consumption strategies... And it worked!

Re:Excellent... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725871)

Greenpeace lied about Apple to get attention? No way! That's never happened before [roughlydrafted.com] .

Re:Excellent... (5, Insightful)

Turken (139591) | about 2 years ago | (#39726111)

too true. What would be really shocking news is if we found that for once greenpeace was NOT lying to get attention. And it's not just Apple. Basic M.O. for these schmucks is to simply pick whatever company is big in the news at the moment and then give that company a bad "rating" based on some imaginary numbers on some arbitrary scale.

For several years in a row when the Wii was at it's popularity peak, the greenpeace "report card" gave Nintendo a failing grade -- for the sole reason that Nintendo had the common sense to ignore them, and refused to give any detailed information about their business operations. Thus, in the mind of the eco-nuts the company *had* to be hiding something horrible, and thus was *clearly* an eco-failure.

Re:Excellent... (3, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#39727465)

For several years in a row when the Wii was at it's popularity peak, the greenpeace "report card" gave Nintendo a failing grade

Do you own a Wii and a power consumption meter? I do (my electricity supplier gave me the meter, the government required it. It's supposed to help people reduce consumption).

Anyway, the Wii uses about 10-15W while on standby (I can't remember how much exactly). That's a huge amount, compared to almost everything else in the house. My bedroom is lit with less power!

Re:Excellent... (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#39727473)

(Hmm... before anyone thinks I'm an idiot, I meant to write, "That's a huge amount while on standby, compared to almost everything else in the house".

Re:Excellent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726239)

More likely Apple simply did not provide information about its energy usage when requested. (rather typical). Then Greenpeace decided to just publish too high figures, thus forcing Apple to give up the information anyway or face a publicity nightmare.

Maybe that Greenpeace link could shed some light on this but the report appears to be only available in some kind of horrible, unreadable flash application.

What it really means: (4, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#39725675)

Greenpeace: blah blah blah blah bad bad bad

Apple: blah blah blah blah good good good

The truth? Probably somewhere in the middle.

Re:What it really means: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725713)

What it really means is...

Greenpeace: *froth froth froth*
Apple: Fuck you.
The Truth: We're with Apple on this one. Fuck you, Greenpeace.

Re:What it really means: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725751)

Greenpeace: "Here are some numbers we pulled out of our asses -- I mean, 'estimated'. Apple is bad."
Apple: "Here are the actual numbers."

Re:What it really means: (3, Funny)

delysid-x (18948) | about 2 years ago | (#39726043)

Since when has Apple ever revealed actual numbers? Sure Greenpeace are a bunch of sensationalist hippies, but so is Apple.

Re:What it really means: (1)

Altanar (56809) | about 2 years ago | (#39726747)

Right. I'm sure Apple isn't skewing the numbers at all to make themselves look better. *wink* *wink*

I'm sure you aren't a pedophile *wink* *wink* (2)

Brannon (221550) | about 2 years ago | (#39727485)

Don't try to deny it, that only makes you look more guilty.

---

Now think about this for a moment and decide if you want to live in a world where you are innocent until proven guilty or the other way around.

Re:What it really means: (3, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#39727349)

Fuck. I hate agreeing with Apple.
Now I hate Greenpeace even more for making me side with Apple.

Re:What it really means: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725749)

Greenpeace is more than happy to distort the truth for propaganda purposes. They've said in the past that the whole reason they single out Apple is because it makes good news. And they are right.

Re:What it really means: (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39725793)

"Distort" the truth? Hell, they just made up some numbers and went with that as the "reasoning" for their rant.

But as usual with Greenpeace, it's 99% bullshit believed by no one except the Greenpeace faithful.

And from what I see, the Greenpeace faithful do definitely qualify as a cult, complete with wingnut behaviour.

Re:What it really means: (4, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | about 2 years ago | (#39725991)

I love the Greenpeace "response to the response" where they doubt the numbers Apple bring forth:

While Apple is well known for making more expensive consumer products, if Apple’s plans for the $ 1Billion investment only generates 20MW in power demand, that would be taking the “Apple premium” to a whole new level.

So first "we want them to stop cutting corners and spend money to make green energy"

Now: "darn, these fools seem to be spending too much money to save up energy, must mean they are lying!"

Re:What it really means: (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#39727515)

Well, everyone knows that building giant solar arrays is free –so that can't be what's costing them a huge chunk of that $1bn.

Re:What it really means: (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#39727235)

Greenpeace is more than happy to distort the truth

And here I thought that was patented by Apple [wikipedia.org] .

Kidding, but I guess the same as other said above. Greenpeace said one thing, Apple another... And reality is somewhere else.

Re:What it really means: (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39727423)

"Distort the Truth" you mean flat out lie. Steve Jobs reality distortion field, didn't wasn't a lie, he showed how things worked and how easy it was to do them, he just left out what you can't do.

Re:What it really means: (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#39727757)

Well no, he did actually flat out lie on several occasions, even during some of the iPhone release love-ins.

Re:What it really means: (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 2 years ago | (#39725925)

No, actually, Greenpeace can pull numbers out of their ass all day long, and few people challenge them on it, because "it's for a good cause", and "they're just trying to save the planet", etc. The whole "somewhere in the middle" has more relevance when you're talking about arguments with lots of grey areas. We're talking about simple numbers here. Greenpeace made a bunch of guesses on the numbers involved, and they've been called out on their very bad estimates and incorrect assumptions.

Apple has all the number they need for a very accurate reading on power usage. Unless you're going to accuse Apple of out and out falsifying those numbers (it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do, as one whistleblower would blow the lid on this), then I'm going to have to side with Apple here as being closer to "the truth".

Re:What it really means: (4, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#39726357)

Greenpeace? Is this the same group that "rescues" animals from lab experiments or farm slaughterhouses, and then gasses them in a room (because they have no place to put these animals they "saved")? I recall the founder of Greenpeace now speaks-out against them.

Re:What it really means: (5, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#39726499)

That was PETA, but both organizations are full of fact averse nuts so I can see confusing them. Nothing undermines your cause like being associated with crazy behavior.

Re:What it really means: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39727079)

On the other hand, if you can make your political opponents seem to be associated with crazy behavior, then propaganda win for you.

Re:What it really means: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726755)

Greenpeace? Is this the same group that "rescues" animals from lab experiments or farm slaughterhouses, and then gasses them in a room (because they have no place to put these animals they "saved")? I recall the founder of Greenpeace now speaks-out against them.

As said by Sponge Bath, the killing shelter animals is PETA, but the co-founder of Greenpeace indeed criticizes Greenpeace whenever he's given the opportunity.

Also remember that the founding principle of Greenpeace is that "Nuclear energy is inherently evil. Because it's nuclear. So that's like bombs and stuff. So we're against it, man".

Re:What it really means: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726733)

because "it's for a good cause", and "they're just trying to save the planet", etc.

To the liberal mentality, "good intentions" excuses any behavior or results.

"Sure we just pulled random numbers out of our ass to make Apple look bad, but we had good intentions."
"Oh ok, nevermind."

Re:What it really means: (4, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#39727471)

Someone once gave me a piece of advice many, many times.
At the time I hated him for telling me this in the end though I understood and am a better person for it.
"It doesn't fucking matter how you feel."
"It doesn't fucking matter what you think."
"It only matters what you do."

Re:What it really means: (4, Insightful)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | about 2 years ago | (#39725963)

Most environmentalists != scientists, it's about time journalists & politicians realised this before bending over to support whatever they dream up this week. How many times have Greenpeace bullied the world into things only to change their minds? Biofuel was the last one that springs to mind - "It's the future, we should all do it!" then just as the world starts to do it "It's destroying the rainforests, don't do it!" Unfortunately they will just shrug and play their "get out of jail free" card that lying about stuff is justified by "drawing attention to the issue". The sad thing is all this just gets in the way of people understanding/caring about/acting on the real issues which might actually benefit the planet.

Re:What it really means: (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726231)

And there are a good many scientists that have become environmentalists and left science behind. HOWEVER, because they were scientists once in the past many people figure they can be trusted as accurate in the present. But then again there are scientists who have admitted they made extreme and/or incorrect statements to get their papers accepted by the IPCC and keep their funding so I say to heck with the lot of them when it comes to climate/environment/et al.

Just accept that humanity is just another animal on the planet, that it's a top level predator and its numbers are going to be curtailed in the same way any other top level predator's are, by overusing its resources. Life will adapt, with or without us, and carry on. It's not a steady state system and never has been.

Accounting not natural laws or numbers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725983)

Greenpeace: blah blah blah blah bad bad bad

Apple: blah blah blah blah good good good

The truth? Probably somewhere in the middle.

Hi. I'm an MBA. And you are 100% correct with your sarcastic interpretation ()Oh, shit! I'm on Linux and my spell check for Firefox deosn't work.)

Anyway, to make a long story short. I can prove with FASAB accounting that they are correct. And that Apple is correct.

Or vice versa.

The old addage - figures don't lie but liars can figure.

Re:What it really means: (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#39726583)

The truth? Probably somewhere in the middle.

What makes you think the truth would be somewhere in the middle? That would mean there are two liars. We know there is one liar, but what evidence do you have that there are two?

Re:What it really means: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726797)

We're talking about Apple and Greenpeace. We already know Greenpeace lies (examples in this thread), and we know Apple lies [slashdot.org] .

What's the truth? Well, it's probably somewhere in the middle: Apple is underreporting their environmental impact to pander to the hipsters that by their shiny shit, and Greenpeace is exaggerating to stir up controversy.

Re:What it really means: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726799)

We know there is *at least* one liar, what evidence do you have that it's exactly one?

Re:What it really means: (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 years ago | (#39726937)

The truth? Probably somewhere in the middle.

I used to think that too, about a lot of media stories. But I've come to discover that typically they are both lying about a completely irrelevant issue to distract you from the real truth, which is not in the middle, but somewhere way out in left field from the view of the two "sides".

Re:What it really means: (1)

KaptajnKold (575207) | about 2 years ago | (#39727153)

The truth? Probably somewhere in the middle

Exactly the reasoning Greenpeace is counting on you to use. Truth is X, Greenpeace says it is 10000X. Most people assume it's safe to assume the truth is 5000X.

Re:What it really means: (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39727399)

Companies like Greenpeace give environmentalism a bad name. They are more about self promotion then about actually saving the environment.
Oh Look a big data center that does a lot of extra processing so a low powered mobile device can give the features and performance of a higher powered device. And Apple tries to make much of their energy in a green method anyways so overall it is even better.

Greenpeace is outgunned (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725681)

Al Gore is on the board of directors.

He is the guy who is allowed to decide what is 'green' and what isn't. It has nothing to do with how much you pollute, how much power you use!

Here's how it works: If you give money to Al, in the form of "carbon credits", or just a good ole fashioned payoff (like a sweet gig as a board member), you are green.

Does greenpeace have a nobel? No!

Al Gore is the only one with the vision to inform people that the center of the earth is billions (with a B! he said it, must be true!) of degrees, and that sea level will rise at least 10 feet in the next 25 years.

Did I say years? I meant minutes! And I'm thuper therial about this!

Re:Greenpeace is outgunned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725893)

Excelsior!

The real question (0, Troll)

chadenright (1344231) | about 2 years ago | (#39725731)

What will Apple do without the Steve Jobs reality distortion field in this situation?

Re:The real question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725939)

No, I think the real question is, "Seriously, Apple really cares about what Greenpeace thinks?"

Because if the answer is "yes", that's what people in the not-batshit-insane community call "a drastic weakness".

Enviros use bogus numbers - this is news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725763)

Well, this certainly is no man-bites-dog story.
Oh, wait, that one's about Obama's childhood.

Re:Enviros use bogus numbers - this is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726909)

+5 funny

Greenpeace is not credible (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725797)

I know my experience with meeting Greenpace activists in
Toronto in the 1980's -- all excited by Fuel Cell Technology
could not comprehend that the Hydrogen Economy relied
on having abundant Nuclear Energy. They were not the
brightest lot on the block.

They also did not seem to understand that Wind Turbines
are great bird whackers and kill more birds per year than
lit up skyscrappers in Toronto.

They also did not understand that the fabrication of solar
cells required extremely toxic chemicals such as Selinium
and also required large tracts of land (thus cut down the trees
or plow under farmland) to power entire cities.

From these people I met, if they were representative, I would
be surprised that they could calculate any energy efficiencies.
Like I said, they were not the brightest lot on the block.

LoL

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725889)

Absolutely true. The real intelligent green thinkers are working with the system to make things better in baby steps - the only way things can change. We don't generally notice these people, but they do make a difference.

Greenpeace is anti-system and falls into tired false extremist eco groupthink, which obviously isn't very productive.

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (5, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | about 2 years ago | (#39726061)

Why did I join Greenpeace in college? well, it's the same reason why I joined the vegetarian club in college. And the same reason I participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

To meet girls with "evolved" morality. Who would let me touch them, without clothing. Basically, for tail.

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726641)

Vegetarian vagina tastes and smells like broccoli. Look elsewhere...

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39727069)

I think you mean asparagus.

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39727125)

So, did it work?

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726417)

You say that like a typical wind turbine kills more than 5 birds on average per year, with that number decreasing as newer designs are implemented.

Re:Greenpeace is not credible (5, Informative)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | about 2 years ago | (#39727665)

Who modded this clown up? Almost every statement he makes is plain wrong.

I know my experience with meeting Greenpace activists in
Toronto in the 1980's -- all excited by Fuel Cell Technology
could not comprehend that the Hydrogen Economy relied
on having abundant Nuclear Energy. They were not the
brightest lot on the block.

The activists were right, you were wrong. The hydrogen economy doesn't require nuclear. Renewables would do equally well. Electrolyzers aren't very expensive per kilowatt and can run on intermittent electricity. Hydrogen is often pushed as a possible way of solving the whole intermittency issue for solar and wind power.

They also did not seem to understand that Wind Turbines
are great bird whackers and kill more birds per year than
lit up skyscrappers in Toronto.

I don't know about Toronto but here are the stats for Denmark, which gets 25% of its electricity from wind power. They have about 30,000 annual bird deaths from wind turbines, 1 million from cars, 2 million from window collisions, and 5 million from cats.

the fabrication of solar
cells required extremely toxic chemicals such as Selinium
and also required large tracts of land

Yes, some types of solar cells use toxic chemicals, but so do lots of other industries. As long as they get recycled there's no huge problem with this. But other solar cell types only use silicon, which is 100% harmless. Land requirements are large compared to nuclear, but tiny compared to bioenergy. Solar cells on just a few percent of the world's deserts could supply all the energy we need, but they could also be distributed over other "dead" surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, roadsides, etc.

From these people I met, if they were representative, I would
be surprised that they could calculate any energy efficiencies.

I'm an energy system researcher with no connection to Greenpeace, but the research reports they produce are very good. Did you hear about the recent IPCC "scandal" where some highlighted scenarios originated from a Greenpeace study? That wasn't because the IPCC is partisan, but that at least some parts of Greenpeace do impressive work that gets cited in academic studies.

Like I said, they were not the brightest lot on the block. LoL

... naw, too easy.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725819)

Why let Greenpeace push anyone around? Did anyone vote for them? They don't act on my behalf. Losers, again if your going to go for the green religion, why am I reading your posts? Give up the electronics and stop posting or shut up.

Greentards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39725853)

Anyone else starting to think that Greenpeace is a stealth right wing disinformation op designed to drive public perception and discredit more rational conservation and environmental goals?

Seriously, Greenpeace's antics do more to help than harm to the interests big polluters.

Is this the same Apple (0, Troll)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#39725943)

Is this the same Apple that refuses to fix broken GPU's that it knows were broken in its top price hardware? Is this the same Apple that refuses to give the full two years warranty mandated by European law, despite charging a significant higher Euro price for its products supposedly to cover these costs?

The problem with being a lying scumbag of a company, is that I stop believing EVERYTHING you say. Apple lies, it is a marketing company first and foremost and marketing is lying. See the whole deal with Foxcon, there they have been proven to lie or twist the truth till it screams in agony at every turn.

No doubt this will be something like, our solar panel provides 60% of the power, at our datacenters, mini-bar. Or they measured it before all the servers were turned on.

Re:Is this the same Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726023)

Troll harder

Re:Is this the same Apple (2)

lucaq (208803) | about 2 years ago | (#39726573)

You mean the same Apple that gave me a FREE BRAND NEW TOP OF THE LINE Macbook Pro in November because I brought in one of the GPU problematic MBPs that you are mentioning that I bought new in Aug of 2007? No questions asked; they even threw in a display port to DVI adapter at no cost. I didn't have AppleCare and I had upgraded the machine myself at home about 9 months earlier, I didn't even bring it in for the GPU issue, I brought it in for a battery and just told them that it was a POS from a hardware perspective but that I loved the OS and I was getting tired of constantly having to fix something on it (most recently the battery AGAIN).

Maybe Nvida ultimately paid for my goodwill gift, but as a consumer I could care less who pays for it if I get a new free computer and stellar service.

Re:Is this the same Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726831)

Talk to those who had to spend years getting apple to own up to this issues and then handling them. They only doing this now to make it go away.

Why does anyone listen to Greenpeace anymore? (5, Insightful)

SirWinston (54399) | about 2 years ago | (#39725951)

These Greenpeace types are the same people who've prevented us from developing and deploying newer, safer nuclear power plants to replace the less safe older ones which are forced to keep running--and which could replace polluting coal plants and help us immensely in the transition away from the fossil fuels they themselves also decry. They're the same folks who stirred up opposition to Yucca Mountain, yet use the lack of such a facility as a talking point against nuclear. They're the same folks who also fight hydro and anything else with "environmental impact" (i.e., changing anything at all about a local environment). Until they're willing to back some realistic alternatives to current power generation--other than living like Luddite hippies--I tune these idiots out. Solar and wind currently supply only about 1% of our national power generation needs, and there's no chance they'll ever supply it all. Until the Greenpeace types back something useful to our situation, they're the same ones keeping us stuck on fossil fuels. Fuck 'em.

To be fair (2)

2.246.1010.78 (721713) | about 2 years ago | (#39725987)

To be fair, at least greenpeace and apple arrive at the same numbers for the power generated by the wind and solar power plants.
10%*100MW = 10MW = 60%*20MW.
So the only difference is the total power consumption, which you have to guess anyway if you are not Apple.

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39727051)

Not really. IIRC, the numbers were announced. Also 10 != 12.

Environmentalism needs another path (2)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#39726039)

Apple's servers may or may not use an excess amount of power, but this seems to me like environmentalists attacking a detail when they should be attacking the bigger picture. How about laptops we throw out every three years? The ten billion trees that business kills each year in paperwork? All the land consumed by urban blight, that could be open forest? Compared to that, some data center is not really a big deal.

Re:Environmentalism needs another path (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726121)

Simple for motivation -- apple has money.

Greenpeace is a "charity" that rakes in a 1/4 billion dollars a year worldwide -- they are a business in their own right.

Re:Environmentalism needs another path (1)

Zironic (1112127) | about 2 years ago | (#39726129)

While I'm loathe to defend Greenpeace, they wern't attacking anything. They made a comparison between all the cloud providers so that cloud consumers could make informed choices based on their enviremental impact.

Now since their numbers were off it wasn't very useful.

Re:Environmentalism needs another path (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726619)

"How about laptops we throw out every three years?"

What's this "We" BS?

I haven't owned a laptop I haven't kept for at least 5 years, that was then handed down to another person for light-weight use that even a 5yo laptop was fine for.

There are *plenty* of places that will take your 3yo laptop and put it to good use. Women's shelters, Child Advocacy centers, churches.. Just for starters.

Hmm... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39726119)

Unless somebody is sitting on something as clever as it is secret, it seems highly unlikely that Apple's efficiency per unit data crunched is all that different from any of the other large cloud types. There are certainly better and worse designs, but anybody who doesn't want to bleed money is likely to be in roughly the same ballpark, and using the same silicon, and bound by the same basic energy conversion efficiency constraints.

Given that, it seems unlikely that there could be a fivefold disagreement about how much power is being used, unless somebody is deeply incompetent, or there are two markedly different estimates of how big Apple's operation is.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726249)

This isn't true, because Apple is considering energy produced on-site and not from the grid as free energy.

Yes, the data center that's covered in solar panels and has it's own small reactor will draw much less electricity from the grid to perform the same task.

Re:Hmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#39726673)

I didn't explicitly mention it, I'll admit; but on-site generation is subject to similar 'any major deviation from other facilities of similar size would be a major surprise' condition, which again makes a fivefold disagreement fairly surprising.

Solar, especially, should be able to get quite good estimates from climate data and generator area data from planning documents or aerial photos. Gas is a bit harder to tell from the outside; but it has a footprint of its own. Such a radical disagreement over how much energy a datacenter of known size is using and/or a generator unit of known size is providing seems quite odd indeed.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726427)

Apparently, Greenpeace's estimate of how much energy the datacenter will use is 40MW higher than a Microsoft facility that exceeds the Apple facility's square footage by 200k squre feet.

Apple facility size: 500k square feet
Greenpeace estimated usage: 100 MW
Microsoft facility size: 700k square feet
Microsoft facility actual energy usage: 60 MW

Another Microsoft facility has the same size as the new Apple facility and uses 27 MW.

My thought here is, which is more likely: that Apple managed to shave 7 MW of usage off and/or is not talking about 7MW of usage, or that they'd rather build a new facility so inefficient that they're going to basically waste (and pay for) 73 MW?

Greenpeace's response when asked about this was apparently "go ask microsoft".

Re:Bad assumptions (2)

MikeMo (521697) | about 2 years ago | (#39726697)

Greenpeace "assumed" that there was a rule of thumb power-used/cost-of-facility metric. Which they probably made up, but they came up with 1MW/$15 million. (Full report PDF here [greenpeace.org] ) Now, not only is that number kinda smelly in and of itself, but they also include the entire $1 billion Apple is spending, which seems to include the cost of their big solar array and fuel cell farm. There could be all kinds of overhead costs in there that don't compare to other facilities, like putting in roads, plans for expansion, surveying, etc.

Apple's servers aren't any more efficient than anyone else's. It's just Greenpeace making stuff up.

Decent place to post Greenpeace's response: (2, Insightful)

Burz (138833) | about 2 years ago | (#39726843)

All the frothing against environmentalists in this thread aside, GP does have an interesting response to Apple's denial... [greenpeaceblogs.com]

While it is good to see Apple acknowledge it should reveal more details of the energy consumption of its data centers, the information they released today does not add up with what they have reported to be the size of the investment and physical size of the data center. When Apple announced they were building a data center in North Carolina, they announced a commitment to invest $1 Billion (USD) over 10 years. For a number of the facilities in the “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report, we made estimates of power demand using fairly conservative industry benchmarks for data center investments: 1MW of power demand from servers for every $15 million, though the number is often closer to $8 Million for many companies. Thus, a $1B investment should net Apple 66MW of computer power demand. Assuming a fairly standard energy efficiency factor for new data centers for non-computer energy demand of 50% gives you a 100MW data center. While Apple is well known for making more expensive consumer products, if Apple’s plans for the $ 1Billion investment only generates 20MW in power demand, that would be taking the “Apple premium” to a whole new level.

Size Matters

The size of the facility at 500,000 sq foot would also indicate a much larger power demand. Amazon’s chief web engineer recently conservatively estimated that based just on the size of the facility, the iDatacenter would consume at least 78MW, and speculated that it is probably higher.
We made these estimates because companies like Apple and Amazon have not disclosed details of how much energy data centers use now and will in the future. We provided Apple with our data prior to releasing the “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report, and while they did not agree with our estimate, they declined to provide specific information on their energy demand.

My short summary of the argument is that in this case Apple is trying to use secrecy to avoid public scrutiny, and Greenpeace has done their due diligence. Frankly, if Apple won't communicate with an enviro group as large as Greenpeace on matters of waste and power consumption, then it is Apple's attitude and business model that I have to question.

Are you kidding me? (1)

Brannon (221550) | about 2 years ago | (#39727633)

Greenpeace's power estimation model is:
      * 1MW / $15M

Apple announces a $1B datacenter investment, with a huge amount of that money spent on on-site solar panels and other energy efficiency improvments. Greenpeace then says: $1B * 1MB / $15M == 67MW of dirty-fossil fuels.

Literally the only way Apple could win is by not spending *any* money on a datacenter. Even if they made a datacenter which ran on hydroelectric power and literally sucked CO2 out of the air they would still show up on Greenpeace's worst polluter list.

I guess your point is that the burden of proof is on Apple; but frankly I think they've provided a fair bit of proof about their huge solar array.

Tough call (2)

seniorcoder (586717) | about 2 years ago | (#39726155)

So which one:
  1. 1. I believe Apple, they would never alter the truth to suit their needs.
  2. 2. I believe Greenpeace, they would never alter the truth to suit their needs.
  3. 3. We're all liars when pushed, and some of us need very little pushing.

Greenpeace director splurging on company cc. (2)

slashbart (316113) | about 2 years ago | (#39726187)

My sister used to work as a secretary for Greenpeace Netherlands, some 20 years ago. She was appalled at the spending sprees of the then director who would go fancy dining with friends on the Greenpeace credit card. She quit.
Greenpeace statements have the same relation to truth as the speeches of Joseph Goebbels or the Pravda newspaper from the Soviet era.

Re:Greenpeace director splurging on company cc. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#39726349)

Power corrupts. Amazing how people at the top of even charitable organizations start with the nonsense. There was a story a few years back about a national sorority chairman who had a $50K statue of herself commissioned.

Nerd fight!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726269)

Nerd fight!!!

Oh look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726271)

a pissing match between two groups of loud hippies nobody wants to hear. How quaint.

but wait there's more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726273)

Greenpeace also said Elon Musk is full of shit about 300 miles Teslas and being able to launch satellites on the cheap.

Like anyone would believe Apple (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about 2 years ago | (#39726343)

unless they are already brainwashed by them (expamle owning a iPod/phone/pad). I wouldn't go with the info Greenpeace gave out either though. I would bet the #s are actully inbetween both statements. you can do the math in your head (or in Excel if you want) power supply on a desktop machine in 2010+ is normally 400watts and up. what wasnt factored into both of their # was the monitors, lights, fans, cooling for the data center.. they both based their #s on just the PCs it seems.

Barking up the wrong tree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39726355)

Computing, HPC computing, and data center housing are the most Green industries on the planet.

Every year, every generation, every iteration of hardware is faster than the last. Every new product does more computations than the last, often with the same or less power.

EVERY company that has anything to do with computing has a direct interest in reducing power consumption. It drives lower power bills, longer battery lifves, or materials saved due to smaller thermal envelopes, and increased capabilities.

The power cost per computation shrinks at a shocking rate, with gains not seen in any other industry, ever.

Green peace, if anything, should be up in arms about the industries that thirst for computational power and computer resources. That party would be programmers. They drive the consumption of resources, not the hardware makers or the data warehouse managers.

Re:Barking up the wrong tree. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39726581)

Computing, HPC computing, and data center housing are the most Green industries on the planet.

Every year, every generation, every iteration of hardware is faster than the last. Every new product does more computations than the last, often with the same or less power.

EVERY company that has anything to do with computing has a direct interest in reducing power consumption. It drives lower power bills, longer battery lifves, or materials saved due to smaller thermal envelopes, and increased capabilities.

The power cost per computation shrinks at a shocking rate, with gains not seen in any other industry, ever.

Green peace, if anything, should be up in arms about the industries that thirst for computational power and computer resources. That party would be programmers. They drive the consumption of resources, not the hardware makers or the data warehouse managers.

Doesn't that also lead to more waste as last year's computers are discarded and replaced? And computer production isn't exactly an activity with low environmental impact - a large amount of energy and many toxic chemicals are used to create computers (and further energy and chemicals are used to recover useful materials when computers are recycled).

I still drive my 12 year old car, but my Celeron 533 and Athlon 800 (both released in 2000) have long been relegated to the scrap heap (along with motherboards, memory, disk drives, etc)

greenpeace needs to go away (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#39726595)

Imo, they're idiots and the thing is, thinks are becoming more environmentally friendly. There is no need for a group like greenpeace and I think they know it so they have to make up stuff to get attention and hopefully donations.

Missing the point (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39726611)

I think Greenpeace is missing the environmental benifit of the Cloud.

When I want to deploy my website, I can either purchase a SAN and a half dozen servers plus network gear to run it, or I can deploy to Amazon or some other cloud provider where I'm running on the same shared hardware as many other customers.

Re:Missing the point (1)

Altanar (56809) | about 2 years ago | (#39726889)

If the energy costs are similar or more, then it doesn't matter. Greenpeace doesn't care about equipment cost or deployment cost. It's 100% energy. Theoretically, the energy cost should be similar between cloud and non-cloud. However, server farms a single point of energy purchase with the potential to greatly reduce the amount of energy coming from fossil fuels. Therefore, focusing on cloud data centers and trying to reduce their fossil fuel intake has a high impact potential over trying to get each tiny company to find alternative sources of energy.

Re:Missing the point (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39727385)

If the energy costs are similar or more, then it doesn't matter. Greenpeace doesn't care about equipment cost or deployment cost. It's 100% energy. Theoretically, the energy cost should be similar between cloud and non-cloud. However, server farms a single point of energy purchase with the potential to greatly reduce the amount of energy coming from fossil fuels. Therefore, focusing on cloud data centers and trying to reduce their fossil fuel intake has a high impact potential over trying to get each tiny company to find alternative sources of energy.

That's the point - by having Amazon's Cloud service available and cheap, I dramatically cut my energy use. If Greenpeace forces them to use more expensive power, they may not be so cheap anymore.

My website may need only 3 servers to run it. However, since I don't want any single point of failure to take down my site, if I build out my own server infrastructure, I need 6 servers, 2 firewalls, 2 network switches, 2 load balancers, one SAN storage array (with dual controllers), with at least 5 disks (or maybe I skip the SAN and use discrete disk drives - maybe 20 drives spread across the 6 servers. (2, 2, 6 times 2). And I have redundant UPS's to power it all. And redundant cooling.

While if I build it on Amazon's cloud, I just need to spin up a few virtual servers. For redundancy, I have duplicate servers in another availability zone (or region). Since my website is idle most of the day, I use a fraction of a physical machine. Likewise, my disk storage uses some tiny fraction of Amazon's SAN. I use their network firewall and load balancers, again just a fraction of a piece of hardware.

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39727801)

Of course!! why didn't anyone think of shared hosting before the cloud came around and saved us? Oh that's right, they did. Good god some of you people are so drawn to buzzwords it's mildly terrifying.
 
Throughout the history of the web (at least in so far as you were alive and able to operate a computer), you have been able to buy webhosting on shared servers. You call that "cloud", the rest of us call that a data center. The only part that has changed is the marketing.

Google's response (1)

Altanar (56809) | about 2 years ago | (#39726855)

If companies don't like estimates by Greenpeace, perhaps they should reveal official numbers backed up by data. A single statement from Apple off-handedly spouting a number doesn't it make it any truer than Greenpeace estimating the cost. Sorry, I just don't believe unverified numbers from the likes of Apple. Google's response: Urs Hoelzle Google’s Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure - "The company welcomed the Greenpeace report and believed that it would intensify the industry’s focus on renewable energy." Adding: "We’ve put a significant time and resources into making Google as energy efficient as possible, using renewable energy, and investing in the sector. We welcome reports like this, as they bring additional attention to these important issues for the industry.

You are a pedofile until proven otherwise. (1)

Brannon (221550) | about 2 years ago | (#39727643)

What, we're supposed to take your single unverified claim otherwise as proof? You need to back that statement up with something.

Re:Google's response (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39727789)

So we take Greenpeace non-verified numbers at face value?

No.

In fact, Apple has a history of being far more honest the Greenpeace. So I'll take Apples word for it until actual proof is presented.

Greenpeace on slashdot (2)

dylan_- (1661) | about 2 years ago | (#39727229)

It's always interesting to see the American reaction to a Greenpeace story. We have comments criticising them for being such a massive organisation, "raking in over a quarter of a billions a year worldwide"! And explaining that it's because of Greenpeace that the nuclear industry in the USA has been stifled.

I do wonder how it is that an organisation that "rakes in" about 1% *annually* of what Apple raked in last *quarter* is somehow bullying Apple? Poor little Apple.

And this same organisation, who again pull in less than 0.5% of just Valero's turnover, are dictating US energy policy? How did that happen? Presumably it has something to do with the huge number of Green Party Congressmen you currently have...

Re:Greenpeace on slashdot (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39727763)

PR. People haven't realized that Greenpeace is now full of liars. So when they here Greenpeace says Apple is "bad" it becomes a PR issue with Apple.

Apple makes the greenest computers at of pretty much all home computers. Has for a very long while. The Greenpeace comes along and Says apple is the worst.
Why did they say that? because Apple kept the efforts for cleaner system to them selves and Greenpeace equated not publishing your manufacturing plans with being a bad polluter.
SO the PR caused Apple to change policy.

So yes, a company can bully someone who makes more money.

If the media would stop giving the yahoos the time of day, then they wouldn't be able to bully anyone.

It has nothing to do with congress.

Clouds Probably Still Save Energy (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 2 years ago | (#39727253)

Even if Apple's cloud facilities use tons of energy, it is still a net win for the environment. Think about networked computing in general. Emails and electronic documents have eliminated the need for tons of paper and the energy used to ship them across the globe. Instead of snail mail to Panama, I can just send off an email. Instead of archiving things and photocopying them, which takes up space and energy to air condition/safeguard, I can just put it on discs or store them on the cloud. Even for the provision of web services, instead of everyone rolling their own server with backups, which costs tons of energy, we can have a centralized server farm with more efficient air conditioning, power supplies, and power backups. Big server farms can do stuff like use DC. A guy in his basement? Not so much.

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