Greenpeace landed a giant iPod at Apple HQ on Tuesday — and then the cops came by (Photo: Greenpeace)
Two Greenpeace activists were arrested outside of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California after staging a protest against the company’s use of “unclean” energy in the massive computing facilities that underpin its iCloud service.
On Tuesday morning, according to Greenpeace, two of its activists “barricaded” themselves inside a giant iPod outside Apple HQ, broadcasting audio messages that ask the tech giant to use renewable energy rather than coal to power its iCloud data centers. Both activists were arrested and taken to the Santa Clara County jail, according to a Greenpeace spokeswoman.
Four other Greenpeace activists — who stood outside the giant iPod, wearing iPhone consumes — were not arrested, the spokeswoman said.
The protest is part of the organization’s larger effort to bring attention to the way the giants of the web power their data centers. Greenpeace has also staged protests against Microsoft and Amazon in recent weeks, and before that, it came down hard on Facebook, which has since adjusted its practices.
Apple’s iCloud service — a means of storing photos, videos, and other files online — is backed by a 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, North Carolina, and this facility is powered by Duke Energy, a utility that gets 46 percent of its power from coal and 52 percent from nuclear facilities. Though Apple says its Maiden facility will soon use 60 percent renewable energy — the company is installing a solar array and biogas plant next to the data center — Greenpeace wants more from the company.
The organization says Apple should commit to running the entire facility on renewable energy, even as it expands the footprint beyond 500,000 square feet. With its data centers in Iowa and Oklahoma, Google has signed long term contacts for renewable energy, and Greenpeace is asking that Apple do the same. “If Apple had something like that,” Gary Cook, an IT analyst with Greenpeace, recently told us, “that would be something that would give us a lot more confidence in their intentions.”
When contacted, Apple sent us a statement it has sent us in the past, saying it believes that the new solar array and the biogas plant will make Maiden “the greenest data center ever built” and that the new facility its building in Prineville, Oregon will run on 100 percent renewable energy.
This is the second time in three weeks that the environmental activist organization has staged a protest against Apple’s data centers practices. On April 24, about a dozen Greenpeace activists appeared at Apple’s flagship San Francisco store dressed as janitors and window washers. Some released helium balloons inside the store while others pretended to, well, wash windows. Greenpeace also hit stores in New York and Toronto that day.
The protest was so subtle, some people in the store didn’t even notice it — much less grasp the symbolism of the fake window washing. But Tuesday’s protest had a greater effect — at least with the local police.
Additional reporting by Robert McMillan