Monday, 13 August 2012

Day 34: Apple - Quit The Coal!

An Apple a day won't do much good if you're breathing in air polluted by coal.

Sorry for the pun. But really...Apple isn't struggling, it can afford to do this.

After pressure from Greenpeace, Apple declared its newest data centre would all be powered by renewables.  Not bad. But they could do better. I'm sure they've got more than one data centre.

Same letter, new we go!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Day 33: Amazon, Coal Powered Data Servers? Really?

Did you know: If you used a web service like Netflix, Pinterest, Dropbox or Instagram today, you were routed through Amazon’s cloud platform? (source)

A recent study estimated that one third of all daily internet users will access an Amazon cloud site on average at least once a day; Greenpeace believes 64% of Amazon's electricity comes from coal.

But, as Greenpeace says: 

There’s hope! The tech industry is led by a few very large companies who can choose to quit the coal habit. Thanks to you [people supporting Greenpeace campaigns], Facebook already has. So we're kicking off a campaign to see Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple — three of the largest owners of data centres in the world — make the switch."

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Day 32: Bill Gates, Microsoft - Time to Kick the Coal

As Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates still has a lot of clout.  I'm going to recycle yesterday's post and send a letter to Bill.

Microsoft office coal protest
Clever error message in Israel office

To: Bill Gates

Thank you for all of the amazing work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does in the world! However, the world today cannot be changed by non-profit foundations alone. Businesses can increase their value by making the world a better place.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Day 31: Microsoft, Time to Kick The Coal - Learn from Facebook

A couple years ago, the Facebook group "Unfriend Coal" appeared. 20 months later, Facebook announced a goal to run on renewable energy. That's huge...Facebook uses more electricity than some small countries.

Facebook even purportedly asked Google for help with designing more energy efficient servers (yay! I love it when our Internet overlords collaborate for good causes).

Greenpeace has a timeline on how they made it happen (actually, how we made it happen ... campaigns are only as successful as people like us supporting)

Here's the video they used to launch the campaign:

Despite former CEO Bill Gate's extreme love for philanthropy, Microsoft isn't doing too well yet in this regard.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Day 30: KFC, Tigers, and Rainforests ... Oh My!

Chainsaw-welding KFC mascot
It's been slow churning out these letters, so I’m going to cop out and take more ideas from Greenpeace. They’ve got lots of good things going already. Hopefully the blog will diversify organizations a bit in the future....but GP has made it so easy! And that’s why their campaigns are so successful.

The Issue
KFC’s packaging is made from poorly managed rainforests. The endangered Sumatra tiger is at risk because of it.

The below video's finest moment is when the Colonel drawls in his Southern accent "Shove it, hippy!"

The Letter

To: KFC CEO David Novak

It has been called to my attention that KFC's packaging is made from rainforests in Indonesia, including the habitat of the endangered Sumatra tiger.

Please change your packaging to include mainly recycled material, and ensure fibers used are from better managed forests (or from some of the many alternative sources of packaging materials).

I will make sure to discourage family and friends from purchasing KFC until this has been corrected.

Thank you.

Sent to:
KFC's Corporate Address for Customer Comments
P.O. Box 725489
Atlanta, GA 31139

U.S. 1-800-225-5532
Canada 1-866-664-5696

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Day 29, First Nations, Enbridge, and Heritage Minister Moore

An important demographic which hasn't gotten much mention during this project re: Enbridge is First Nations.

Enbridge says that 60% of First Nations are on board with the pipeline (they will get 10% ownership); although many believe this to be inflated. Enbridge isn't winning a lot of trust, given the oversimplified-to-the-point-of-deception video about the tanker routes:

I'm not really sure who to write to that is of particular relevance to First Nations, so I'll just send some support to Heritage Minister Moore, who was "the first cabinet member to publicly express doubt and criticism of the project" (source).

Monday, 6 August 2012

Day 28, Alberta Premier Redford and Enbridge

Alberta's Premier Redford

Another article says Clark may actually help Enbridge because if her conditions are met it may move a chunk of the population to supporters (currently 51% are "moderate" on the pipeline).

“Clark’s demands are more than reasonable in a province where environmentalism trumps cash, tourism and the fishery are economic mainstays, and aboriginal treaty rights remain unclear.”

As mentioned, there is massive criticism on all sides. Criticism I agree with:

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Day 27, BC Premier Clark and Enbridge

BC's Premier Clark rocked the Enbridge news in the past weeks with her definitive stance, refusing to partake in national energy strategy discussions "until we see some progress in the discussions between British Columbia, Alberta and the federal government with respect to the Gateway pipeline."

She set out 5 conditions including

  • "Deploying world-leading marine oil-spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean" and 
  • "Ensuring British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers."

Of course, the latter condition is the one which has been the most controversial. More money?!

No one is happy, though....many environmentalists and First Nations say the conditions are token, won't prevent spills, and put BC on sale to the highest bidder. Pipeline supporters are unhappy about the more money part.

The Letter

To: Premier Clark

I applaud your tough stance on the Enbridge Pipeline. While you have been plagued by criticism, I think it is important that someone takes a stand. Please keep going and don’t listen to the naysayers!

Your stance was an important factor in Enbridge committing to another $500m in safety measures.
Still, it’s not enough. As Suzuki said:

“B.C.’s premier should have renounced the [national energy strategy] proposal because it’s focused more on tar sands, pipelines, and markets than on getting Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions under control by shifting from fossil fuel dependency to a more efficient system based on conservation and renewable energy.”

Whatever the case, thanks for trying hard!

The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041
Victoria, BC
Phone: 250-387-1715

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Day 26, A Spill A Week - Principled Letter to Enbridge

Fun Fact: Enbridge for the past ten years averaged about a spill each week

Clarification: Having worked at an oil company, I know what counts as a spill. It can be something incredibly small in the realm of a few litres.

Judging from their own CSR reports, it's over 6 million gallons (~160,000 barrels) from 1999- 2010. People living or working nearby a spill feel it more, but it still affects everyone when the environment is sullied.

Source is National Wildlife Federation

Today's Letter
Definitely won't do anything (unlike publicly commenting here to the government of Canada). It's a general letter of dissent to Enbridge. What are they going to do, change their entire business?  Not likely.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 25, You Can Officially Comment on Enbridge "Online", But It Won't Be Easy....

Excitement: did you know you can publicly log your Enbridge opinion online by August 31st

Less excitement: just realized you also have to CC to three people who work at Enbridge. One step forward three steps back. Thanks to Pacific Wild for pointing this out. At least you can use e-mail.

Note, one part of the website (F&Q's for hearing order) hasn't included this information. I'm sure it wasn't trying to mislead people. But a better job when working on a multibillion dollar project, please!

Day 24, North America's Wilderness, Letter to Minister of Environment

In good(?) news, according to Toronto Star, Enbridge will comply with BC Premier Clark's request for “world-leading” prevention and response to oil spills by adding $500 million of safety measures, such as thicker pipes.

Here's a snippet with some information I didn't know about Canada's wilderness:

Who doesn't love infographs? See it all at:

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Day 23, The Story of Change, Recycled Enbridge Letter to Min of Nat Resources Joe Oliver

Do I expect the Enbridge pipeline to continue? Absolutely.

But there's always a small chance enough people will voice their opinions against it here, and stand behind a government committed to finding better ways to support our population.

Have you seen The Story of Change yet?  It's from the same people as The Story of Stuff. They pull out the big guns for this one in a large call for a generally positive but undetermined future. Excellent image:

One of its messages is that a better future can't be made by buying greener/more ethical products (though it's a part of it), but by exercising our "citizen muscle" to change the game.