Two Greenpeace protestors were arrested at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino this morning after sealing themselves in a giant pod to draw attention to claims that the company uses dirty energy to support its cloud services.
Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies responded to trespassing reports from Apple employees around 8 a.m., and arrived to find two women in their early 20s who had barricaded themselves inside the device, which was painted white with an apple logo, according to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Jose Cardoza.
Sheriff’s deputies then teamed up with Apple maintenance employees and members of the Santa Clara County Fire Department to get the women out of the pod using electric saws. There were other protestors around who were dressed as iPhones with screens displaying messages of support for the Greenpeace campaign, but they were on the public sidewalk, Cardoza said.
According to David Pomerantz, a spokesperson for Greenpeace, the two protestors are Elizabeth Donahue, 21, of Montana and Brandy Palm of Sacramento.
Donahue and Palm had reportedly attached themselves to each other and the pod using a large metal rod, and did not cooperate with requests by Apple employees or sheriff’s deputies to leave the pod and vacate the property, sheriff’s officials said.
“Both of them are activists who are really passionate about fighting coal and climate change,” Pomerantz said.
According to a statement by Greenpeace, the protest follows the release of their report “How Clean is Your Cloud,” which evaluated 14 Internet technology companies’ network service clouds.
Greenpeace says that unlike some companies, such as Google and Yahoo, Apple is using mostly nuclear and coal generated energy to power its cloud.
Specifically, Greenpeace alleges, Apple gets its cloud’s power from a company called Duke Energy, which gets their coal by mountain-top mining, a technique that Pomerantz said not only destroyed mountains but also contaminates streams, with significant negative impact on local communities.
Duke Energy itself seems to acknowledge the dark side of coal, naming “Reducing our reliance on mountaintop coal” as one of its goals in the “Environmental Footprint” section of its 2011/2012 Sustainability Report.
But Apple said in a statement that Greenpeace got the numbers wrong–that its data center in Maiden, N.C. will use 20 megawatts at full capacity, not the 100 megawatts that Greenpeace reported.
In comparison, the report tallied Facebook’s San Jose cloud facility at a capacity of 5 megawatts, 23.8 percent of which is powered by coal.
Apple also said that soon more than 60 percent of its on-site power will come from a new solar farm and fuel cell, which they said would be, “the largest of their kind in the country,” adding that the project would, “make Maiden the greenest data center ever built,” joined by a 100 percent renewable energy powered facility in Oregon in 2013.
Pomerantz contested that based on Apple documents for facility back-up generators, Greenpeace believes that the company will soon expand to use the full 100 megawatts.
“We’re concerned about a company that brands itself as so innovative … still using something as anachronistic as coal,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Keiller MacDuff.
According to Greenpeace, the dome from which the protestors were pulled was an 8-foot-tall, 10-foot-wide survival device that was used years ago in the Arctic in protests against oil drilling in that region.
In an appropriately tech-related twist, Palm was actually blogging from inside the pod this morning. “I want Apple to use their influence to power the iCloud I use every day with clean energy,” she said.
The two protesters were arrested around 10 a.m., about 30 minutes before the survival pod was towed off of the Apple premises.
Breena Kerr, Bay City News