Saturday, 16 April 2011


Saving the planet is a noble cause. But I don’t know why Greenpeace thinks their latest campaign against Facebook will achieve this. I’ll explain why in a minute, but first, I think you need a bit of background about my thoughts.

I strongly feel that green issues should be highlighted to everyone and we should all be striving for a future with clean, renewable and safe energy being sourced with a carbon footprint no bigger than the palm of an amoeba giving a high five. New technology is paramount to achieving this but so are economic, political and sociological factors.

Each of us can do our part; in small ways and not-so small ways. But we must remember that we all cannot change overnight. By that, I’m not saying that we don’t want to change, rather that preparations may be needed first.

Here’s a couple of examples. First, a personal one.

I cycle to work. This has many benefits, like, I get fitter. I can feel that little bit more at one with the world; feeling the breeze on my skin and watching the beautiful Lancashire countryside roll by as I pedal along the canal towpath. Of course, by doing this, I am not using fossil fuels during my commute.

But I can’t do this every day. One reason is that I’m not that fit yet! I will be one day. Another reason is that it’s too bloody cold and dark during the winter months.

Before I could start proper, I had to invest in parts for my bike. My employer had to look into extra facilities (bike rack, shower, changing rooms, locker etc.).

Eventually, the cycling began. Initially, it was just me. A lone green warrior fighting for what I believed in. Some of my colleagues thought I was a weirdo. Some of them still can’t understand why a man in my position doesn’t have a fancy car and ride in luxury to work each day. They scoff, and somehow feel superior.

Yet, soon after, others began. The company promoted the government cycle scheme. By autumn last year, there were probably eight people out of the fifty or so employees who were cycling each day.

That’s one way I have found to convert people to a greener way of living. Show others the way by doing it yourself.

Another example for you. The company that I work for creates electronics and software for supplying fuel for fleets of vehicles. I am now the Development Manager, actively figuring out the best way that our systems meet people’s fuelling needs. In the past, our software was based around stopping fuel theft by controlling who can take it.

But this is changing. The equipment is becoming more and more focussed on driving down the usage of fuel (and hence the environmental impact). We are creating systems that link to government initiatives to reward the companies that are environmentally responsible and help those that are not. We produce systems which can isolate individual drivers that are not behaving as frugally as others so that a company can target training requirements.

Our latest creation is still in the development pipeline. When it is ready, it will be available for all to use. That means you, too. It will be able to help you drive your own fuel costs down by comparing your average MPG to others with same vehicle model.

In short, when it comes to green issues, we are working on it. Everyone, is working on it.

Including Facebook.

They have just revealed the results of a project they started about 12 months ago to reduce the power required to run their servers by up to 38% (and hence reduce their costs). That’s good.

But they go further. Rather than sitting on this new technology, they are opening it to the world. If they had kept it to themselves then they could have run their servers with an operational cost advantage over their competitors. But, they are willing to share. That’s not just good, that’s great!

My beef with Greenpeace is that they are the only campaign group that do NOT applaud this. Instead, they have created a cause called ‘Unfriend Coal’ (ironically, on Facebook) which is slating Facebook for still using coal derived power sources.

Since when has chastising those who do right been a way of getting others to follow? Facebook have started down the greener path and all Greenpeace do is groan about it.

All this will do is turn people against green issues. They will stop listening to those who constantly moan. The approach of mumbling ‘this is not good enough’ is wrong. It makes people think that Greenpeace are not focussing on the goal of an environmentally responsible future, but rather are just moaning for the sake of it.

It’s always easy to protest. The hard bit is actually doing it. We should be positive to those who have done the right thing and help those who have not.

My wife spoke to me about this earlier. She thought it was a great idea to start a campaign to get Facebook to be greener. I agree, on the face of it. But when I showed her the back story, she thought again.

This just puts Greenpeace and other organisations into a bad light. Whoever thought of this within Greenpeace has some questions to answer.