back to article Greenpeace reveals WORLD'S FILTHIEST CLOUDS – and the cleanest may shock you

Amazon, Twitter and Oracle have been slammed by Greenpeace for their lack of transparency over how they source the energy for their data centers. Meanwhile, Apple, Facebook, and Google were praised by the hippie collective. Greenpeace lambasted Amazon for its sparing use of "clean energy" in its data centers in a report …

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Shut the right one down

I am a bit of a tree hugger. I watched clear-cutting ruin the scenery when growing up in B.C. Later in University I realized that the damage to the ecosystem was permanent in many ways and the landscape as I knew it would never return.

I am old enough that I remember a world literally much greener than it is now. I think it is important that we understand what constitutes good stewardship of both the environment and our society as we continue to advance. The key here, though, is understanding.

I was once a supporter of Greenpeace, but they have become entirely net negative. Whether by design or ignorance they foster illiterate nonsense thinking that somehow environmental change and species extinction are intrinsically bad and should be opposed at all costs. They are working diligently to send our post industrial society back to the stone age. Thanks to the efforts of Greenpeace and fellow travelers Doctors, Lawyers, Scientists, Judges and other highly trained and expensive human resources waste their time literally sorting through garbage. This activity has prevented sane and sensible industrial scale treatment to recycle materials. How many advances have not yet been made because the productive capacity that would have made them was fussing with garbage or mindlessly protesting fundamental facts of life like evolution through natural selection?

It is ironic that they are so focused on particulars of energy and ignoring the big picture. With abundant cheap energy we can do whatever we wish in terms of limiting our environmental footprints, expanding out into the solar system, automating ever more things, etc. Greenpeace would like to hobble and harass the marketplace without any real understanding and whenever they get their way the results are predictably disastrous.

Greenpeace has their shoulder firmly to the wheel with respect to the increasingly irrelevant Climate Alarm raised by the second-raters in 'Climate Science' and kept alive by spineless politicians who seek to have power rather than exercise leadership. I am not wrong about the fact that *more* CO2 is a *good* thing, but even if I were, with abundant cheap energy we could sequester CO2 at will easily enough.

Mankind is dealing with a limited biosphere. Living things increase in numbers exponentially until they encounter some limiting factor. We have, through a variety of mechanisms been able to dodge Malthusian catastrophe, but the only way to avoid crashing into the boundaries is to lift the boundaries. One way or another the human population will continue to rise until it reaches an external limit.

Environmental stewardship is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need to respect the math of population growth. Our very best hope for the future is finding a way to get abundant cheap energy. A strategy focused solely on reducing energy usage ultimately results in a reduced standard of living and stagnation or reversal of scientific advancement. Already in Canada we are suffering the ill effects of energy constraints and rising costs due to the pursuit of so-called 'green' energy sources like windmills.

If I had the power, I would shut down Greenpeace tomorrow. It would make the world a better place.

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Anonymous Coward

Greenpeace

Greenpeace lost its way years ago.

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Re: Greenpeace

I like how they ignore the fact that current levels of CO2 are helping reforestation projects due to the stuff being plant food. I remember reading a study, that even without intervention, over the next 100 years natural reforestation will slow down and stop the encroachment of the Sahara.

And as I mentioned not long ago, their ships burn fuel oil. Do they buy a magic type that produces no pollution whatsoever? They also use technology that is made from materials sourced from high pollution mining methods. Do all of their offices run on 100% clean energy?

Why don't Greenpeace put their stats in the survey for comparison?

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Re: Shut the right one down

quote: "It is ironic that they are so focused on particulars of energy and ignoring the big picture."

What's even more ironic is the dichotomy of their views on nuclear power, and solar power. Especially amusing is the look on their faces when you point out "sunlight" is radiation emitted from an unsupervised, unshielded nuclear reaction. Cue all sorts of attempts to rationalise solar as "good" but all other nuclear as "bad" ;)

I probably shouldn't, but sometimes it's just too tempting ^^;

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Malthusian catastrophe

The Malthusian catastrophe is another scare story which is being disproved by emprical evidence.

Yes, the world's population has been rising very fast but that is because third world countries are now developing along with medical and health benefits. This means instead of having large numbers of babies to cope with the fact that a majority of them do not survive, they only need a few babies like us in the west as 99% of children survive. But it takes a generation or two for this to happen.

As families find out that their children are able to survive they also realise that in a developing country children are a cost, not a benefit. In an agricultural society you need lots of people to do grunt work, and children are very useful for this kind of thing. In a developing society children get education and this costs. Even with free education this is still paid for via their taxes.

The emperical evidence is showing that the rate of growth in the population is flattening out as India and China develop into 1st world countries. So us humans are naturually limiting ourselves to the world's abilities. And the world's abilities to keep us fed can still grow. Compared to modern times, 1800s agricultural production was very inefficient. A diary cow now produces many times more milk than an 1800s cow. Crops now produce many more tons per acre than in the 1800s. All through the benefit of modern technology and practises.

Greenpeace and their ilk such as Friends of the Earth are wanting to take us back to the middle ages. They want to throw away all the work our ancestors did in getting us here. Our ancestors died to get us here (like the thousands who died in coal mines) and GP and FoE are basically saying that they died in vain.

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Re: Greenpeace

Typical of clueless Greenpeace to lump nuclear with the 'disapproved' energy sources. Overall globally there are 4 things that can happen in teh next few years:

1. continue as 'normal' with fossil fuels the main energy source with what it implies for (lack of ) security of supply, increased energy expenditure to even get the stuff out of the ground, severe particulate pollution and eventually falling off a supply cliff... and I'm not even mentioning global warming

2. GP's way which is dump nuclear and fossil ASAP, get to 100% renewable ASAP, also involving energy prices skyrocketing, quality of life diminished in richer countries and hope of it improving destroyed in poorer countries, vast swathes of countryside eaten up by wind and solar farms, security of supply down the drain.

3. Serious investment in modern nuclear now, and worldwide, to take up baseload power over from fossil fuels over the next 50 or so years, allowing renewables to grow organically and steadily while carbon energy is phased out. Energy prices will still increase* but not as much as in (2). There are still risks but hey this is the real world, nothing is risk-free. Forget Fukushima that was a 50-year old reactor based on 60-year old design, new reactors are both safer AND can burn off the nasty radioactive stuff produced by older reactors as fuel.

4. Discover fission

*We're long past the point where oil is cheaply and easily dug from the ground in such vastly abundant quantities that we can afford to waste. Dirt-cheap energy is gone forever**

**until point (4) not only can be done but has matured and scaled... and possibly not even then

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Thumb Up

Re: Malthusian catastrophe

@The Axe

"The emperical evidence is showing that the rate of growth in the population is flattening out"

UN 'middle estimate' of global population is that it wil level out at around 9-10 bln people

"Compared to modern times, 1800s agricultural production was very inefficient. A diary cow now produces many times more milk than an 1800s cow. Crops now produce many more tons per acre than in the 1800s."

Completely true, but I would add the caveat that I'm not too happy about some of the "modern technology and practises." Increased production of meat / milk is partly due to overstuffing animals with unneeded antibiotics, animals reared in terrible and unsanitary conditions etc. Same with farm practice, yields are partly increased through indiscriminate use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers etc.

I think it's perfectly possible to have increased yields compared to 1800s or to places like sub-Saharan Africa, but lower than current 'mega factory-farming' yields, and still have enough to feed everyone in a way that is healthy for both us, farm anilmals and the environment. It won't be 'cheap' in the sense of a £2-3 steak, but rising standards of living could cope with that. (And too much meat is unhealthy anyway!!)

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Mushroom

Re: Greenpeace

The sad thing is the way they and Friends of the Earth have such a lock on representing the environmental movement. As a specific example, where do all of us who regard Nuclear as a good option go? Like __ I recall a greener land. I'm all for stopping the hunting of whales, I used to be a member of the RSPB, I would like to curtail deforestation. Building materials and living space I understand. Obliterating huge chunks of rain forest so that US citizens can continue to gorge themselves on cheap beef (the land is used to grow soybeans for cattlefeed), is not something I like. Who is left to speak for the _educated_ environmentalists?

If you try to lend your voice to any environmental campaign (e.g. protecting British wildlife), you'll instantly find your money or your presence or both co-opted by one of these groups. RSPB now campaign for windfarms (unsightly, unnecessary, costly), I'd be fully behind Greenpeace trying to stop Japanese whaling, but my money would go toward chastising Amazon for using the most nuclear power. I'd like to show up to a meeting about deforestation of South America, but my presence is counted as support for an organization that routinely spits out misinformation and lies about nuclear power.

Nuclear power isn't a perfect silver bullet, but if you accept we're going to have to get off fossil fuels, it's by far the best option in most places (solar has value, however). And I support nuclear power _because_ I'm environmentally minded. Greenpeace and FoE are riddled with prejudice and bad science. There are millions of people such as myself who call ourselves environmentalists, that these organizations exclude and prevent from being heard.

(--> icon chosen both to represent how I feel and for irony value)

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Re: Shut the right one down

I'm no particular fan of Greenpeace, but that is such unforgivable twaddle.

>somehow environmental change and species extinction are intrinsically bad

Well, to the species concerned, it's pretty bad. To the species that relied on the first species, it's bad. Losing diversity is bad.

>They are working diligently to send our post industrial society back to the stone age.

Sheer bullshit.

>How many advances have not yet been made because the productive capacity that would have made them was fussing with garbage or mindlessly protesting fundamental facts of life like evolution through natural selection?

Go on then - answer your own question. Approximate answer - none. Understanding what we throw away tells us quite a lot about what we make - and how to make it better.

>With abundant cheap energy we can do whatever we wish in terms of limiting our environmental footprints

Oh dear. You're using words which don't mean what you think they mean.

>the increasingly irrelevant Climate Alarm raised by the second-raters in 'Climate Science'

Aha! A dinosaur, wilfully ignorant of science.

>I am not wrong about the fact that *more* CO2 is a *good* thing

Oh yeah? It must be nice to live in that cosy world of yours, in which you're never wrong, no matter how ridiculous your beliefs.

>If I had the power, I would shut down Greenpeace tomorrow

Luckily, you don't have the power. You're irrelevant.

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(Written by Reg staff)

mod note

Please refrain from getting overly personal.

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Re: Shut the right one down

Just one of many corrections to your ad hominem attacks: With abundant cheap (clean is irrelevant) power, extraction, recovery, and proper disposal of any unusable waste fractions is a snap. It actually becomes seriously profitable. The engineering is beyond done; it's waiting on the shelf. The only component missing is abundant, cheap energy. And, why yes, I am several kinds of engineer with zero tolerance for BS.

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Re: Shut the right one down

We have abundant cheap energy. Both in the form of fission for base load and the big ball of fusion in the sky to provide us lots and lots of cheap power (directly, or as wind) for bursty things. All that lovely stuff you want to do that involves neat disposal of waste, extraction, recovery, etc? We can do a lot of that with the "bursty" (I.E. generally available for 8-10 hrs a day) power, whilst using base load for the rest. (Including things like keeping smelters at minimum temperature, etc.)

What it requires is kicking a bunch of NIMBYs in the ASCII and making them realize that without fission, we're all fucked.

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more efficient my ass

amazon is incredibly inefficient, they are built for inefficiency. The amount of wasted EVERYTHING there due to inability to pool resources amongst services is obscene.

heads up their asses, per usual.

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Re: more efficient my ass

So basically, we need costs to go down to drive this into the right direction?

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They're targeting low hanging fruit

Let's face it, Greenpeace is targeting something most people don't understand or comprehend... It's their PR department in overdrive. Yes, they should be targeting factories and waste and yes, the Middle Kingdom comes to mind. But donations come from those who can afford them... and that's the US and their ilk. They can protest in the same places they get their donations because of certain free speech rights.

I'd love to see how long the Greenpeacer would last standing in the middle Tiananmen Square holding his sign. While most of the population would be supportive just on the smog issue alone, the poor schmuck would probably be hauled off in the twinkling of an eye.

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Nuclear = Red?

And here is me thinking that a data centre is likely to have a fairly predictable load, probably verging on absolutely static, since the compute resources are being used as nuch as possible.

Even when service usage drops in the middle of the night (erm, when is that on earth?) background tasks can be used to keep the utilization high....

Isn't that virtually a shoe in for a nuke power source?

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Re: Nuclear = Red?

Ah, but because we had (have?) a habit of building volatile and intrinsicly unsafe types of reactors, simply because these types have weaponisable by-products, we have now got used to the idea that ALL types of nuclear fission reactors are inherently a disaster waiting to happen.

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Anonymous Coward

The colour coding

is rather unsubtle. And wrong, with nuclear in red. When will Greenpiece learn?

On another tack, Yahoo! is doing rather well on the index.

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Greenpeace bah!

Well here's a bunch of bullshit on the www they can shut down themselves if they actually cared...

http://www.greenpeaceblackpixel.org

I was an avid Greenpeace supporter for 15 or so years, but no more... they have lost their way.

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Trollface

> Apple 100% because it's running on 100% green juice

The hipster power is strong in this one!

> Amazon 27% nuke power

I'm okay with this.

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Apple 100% green juice?

Don't make me laugh. With what's going on in China there's no way in hell that's true. But that's what the political tree-hugger do: ship their real pollution elsewhere.

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There are datacenters running on coal, gas and nuclear?

So far every datacentre I have looked into for hosting was running on 100% renewables without nuclear. Just look at companies like Hetzner or Manitu (the later positioning itself as an ethical company).

http://www.manitu.de/unternehmen/oekologie-und-klimaschutz/ (100% water)

http://www.hetzner.de/hosting/unternehmen/umweltschutz (also 100% water)

Other sources of electricity would just be far to expensive to run a datacentre of.

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Paris Hilton

Come back salmon!

I don't see this. The power company will provide you with a "mix" of differently sourced power and "ecological" will not mean less expensive, it will mean *more expensive* (unless the cost is collectivized by governmental decree).

I don't even understand how anyone can claim that he does 100% ecological - are there are special high-tension lines going to their premises that transport electricity coming from particular sources fully separate from large-scale mixing electrical circuit that is the countrywide system?

Also, Hetzner is going overboard claiming that they have 100% ecological water leccy. I think that means they get *most* of it from Norway. Well, someone has to build the dams over there.

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Re: Come back salmon!

Must be the green electrons which are clearly, visibly different from the red electrons. I've never been able to figure out how they match changes in demand by more than one customer against required changes in supply from differing categories of energy providers. I know it is possible, just extremely unlikely ever to occur in real life. Have to add a data-center or three for just my state and that doesn't even address the interconnects to suppliers who aren't going to be too happy about the power company directly controlling their generators. On the demand side, well that's why God invented Big Data and data scientists. Frankly that's easy compared to displaying exactly correct carbon-loading for each good, but I'll stop there.

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I've said it before, I'll say it again ...

There is no such thing as "green" energy. Ultimately, all energy comes from the same place. And that place is nuclear. Like it or not, that's a fact.

In other news, greenpeace has never been green, nor peaceful.

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Re: I've said it before, I'll say it again ...

Actually, all energy comes from a system that generates entropy very quickly. A massive random-number generator, so to say.

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@DAM (was: Re: I've said it before, I'll say it again ...)

Didn't I just say that?

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Anonymous Coward

Who cares about what Greenpeace screams anyway, whose only mission is to send the modern world back to the Dark Ages.

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What companies can and can't do...

"Therefore a better target for Greenpeace's bright green ire could be the tech goliaths responsible for the countless watt-chomping desktops and laptops used across the world. Or, you know, those huge fields of factories in the Middle Kingdom and elsewhere."

The problem with that thought is that a company like Apple can control the way it powers and cools its data centres. Its a relatively "easy" thing to do. Compared to changing the way components in desktops and laptops consume power. Power consumption in CPUs and the like is usually a trade-off between performance and power consumption. Things are improving all the time. Intel can't control the power supplied to customers...

Also, one thing I'd love to know is an equivalent of total cost of ownership, but for green-ness. Its all well and good focusing on the ongoing power usage of a data-centre but what about all that energy needed to build the place, to manufacture the servers, to manufacture the backup systems and the cooling. We certainly don't want to be encouraging companies to go throwing servers away, thereby increasing their footprint.

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Re: What companies can and can't do.

"one thing I'd love to know is an equivalent of total cost of ownership, but for green-ness."

Me too. Gut feeling is Tesla (for example) would be a major underdog.

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Anonymous Coward

Multinationals

Greenpeace is a multinational corporation with an annual income or more than $300 million.

In the UK they are not a charity because of their political activity so they use various tax avoidance measures that result in them paying no tax at all. Starbucks would be jealous.

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Re: Multinationals

Greenpeace have multiple arms to their organisation (like many charities). Greenpeace Environment Trust is a registered charity in the UK.

Greenpeace Ltd is a company that engages in lobbying and direct action. Many of these activities would excluse the charity wing from having its status.

You'll find similar arrangements with most large charities.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Multinationals

Like I said, they use tax avoidance techniques.

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Greenpeace = terrorist organisation

These people want to do more damage to our infrastructure than "regular terrorists" could ever hope to achieve. The members and supporters of this organisation should be detained in a walled off field of mud with a donkey - that seems to be the environment they are seeking.

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Re: Greenpeace = terrorist organisation

And I'm going to tell the animal rights people about how hard they're working the poor donkey - FIGHT! Lentils at dawn...

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Anonymous Coward

I wouldn't even trust my pet hamster to be any where near these idiots.

Most seem to have half a brain, so is anything they say worth a dime?

Greenpeace and that other iffy lot EPEAT should merge. Both are 'compromised' in my eyes.

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When is Google or some other tech giant going to take matters into their own hands and develop their own nuclear power station? That would move the world forward a far lot more than all this hand wringing/waving.

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Greenpeace? Guerilla hippies more like.

Nuke power should be along side renewable for 'green-ness'

CO2 is good for trees and reforestation.

Greenpeace should rename themselves to Guerilla Hippies.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple being 'economical' with the truth?

Apple frequently boasts its buildings are “powered …… with 100 percent renewable energy.”

Knowing Apple’s precision with word use, their choice of phrase is 'interesting'.

I wonder how many sycophants misunderstand that as ‘buildings 100% powered by renewable energy’? Which is something entirely different.

Their Nth Carolina Data Centre uses a massive array of solar panels. I wonder how it's powered at night?

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Re: Apple being 'economical' with the truth?

>>"Their Nth Carolina Data Centre uses a massive array of solar panels. I wonder how it's powered at night?"

Well if we can't attribute it to the sunshine, and obviously there's insufficient power transmission in the moonlight, perhaps we can attribute it to the boogie.

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Re: Apple being 'economical' with the truth?

quote: "Well if we can't attribute it to the sunshine, and obviously there's insufficient power transmission in the moonlight, perhaps we can attribute it to the boogie."

Good times, man, good times 8)

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Joke

Why the greenpeace rage

I mean they bravely scaled the Shard to show those evil oil cooperation's who is boss, I am sure BP and Shell won't spill again after such a brave and well thought out process.

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Technically, all energy is 'renewable' since it can be neither created nor destroyed only transformed. In the eyes of a marketing or P.R. dept. I'm sure that gives lots of scope for ommissions e.g.

"All our data centres use 100% renewable energy sources. [omit]Some of those sources may require millions of years to 'renew'[/omit]"

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@Adze

Your statement "Technically, all energy is 'renewable' since it can be neither created nor destroyed only transformed." is correct, kinda. Unfortunately, you are forgetting about signal loss (which is unavoidable).

Entropy is a bitch.

During the meanwhile, radiation sources are humanity's best bet long-term.

As for: "[omit]Some of those sources may require millions of years to 'renew'[/omit]"

Try billions (if ever). But thankfully, the universe started providing this energy over ten billion years ago, and we can harvest the energy now and into the future ... if we're not completely daft & ignore the concept.

The only question is, will humanity live long enough to understand reality.

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Real Greens.

If you are green and are not in favor of power from nuclear fission you are merely misanthropic and are championing the death of millions, perhaps billions of human beings.

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Re: Real Greens.

Hear, hear!

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Flame

Green electrons

I always wonder how people can say that they are only using green energy. Can they decide which electrons to use that come down via the national grid? Are the green energy companies doing some special filtering to extract just the electrons from wind farms and solar fields and piping them down to their customers.

Bollocks!

All green energy companies are is a way for middle class guilt ridden twits to feel all good about themselves.

It's like companies saying that they plant trees to replace the ones they use. Bollocks to that as well. All they do is pay some money to a company that does some work with numbers and CO2 tax credits and then tell the original company what that it is numbers of trees equivalent.

/rant off

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Boffin

Re: Green electrons

No you can't decide which particular electrons are generated from green or not.

Can't say for anyone else, but my utilities supplier offers varying degrees of sourcing, ranging from 'normal' that includes a chunk of renewables all the way to 100% renewables. The higher %age of renewables the more costly (difference is surprisingly little). Subscribers have the option of paying more for specifically green energy.

Of course as you say, if I opt for 100% renewables I can't know whether 100% of the actual electrons that pass through my system came from renewables, but what the utility does is to vary it's aggregate sourcing depending on the aggregate desires of all it's customers.

If for example Apple are claiming 100% renewable that's probably true in the sense that (a) they will be paying a premium for that and (b) their supplier will have needed to build or buy enough renewable to supply to match Apple's demand, irrespective of where the actual electrons go

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Headmaster

Re: Green electrons

Haha yes, and this is further complicated by the fact that electrons do not travel down the wires instantaneously or even at the speed of light. The electron drift velocity is actually quite small in comparison, I remember calculating it in A level physics and it was in the order of a few cm per second from what I remember, so you'd need to factor the considerable time delay from power station to your house as well!

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waitaminnit

eBay is practically right down the street, tied into the same utility grid as my office. How do they know what power comes from coal and what doesn't once it enters the grid?

Electricity doesn't come in flavors. Or have identifying packets.

this is too much witchdoctery and straight up propaganda.

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