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07 April 2010

Is the iPad green?

The recent release of Apple's iPad has been the major buzz around the internet lately. Up until yesterday all of the top science and technology articles on my Google news widget were about the iPad - how great it is or isn't and what it means for the future of the internet. Wonderful.

So forgive me for a moment while I add to the cacophony.

On the day of it's release, Green Peace put out a statement claiming that the iPad, and more specifically the cloud computing that it depends upon, is not green. In short, they claim that cloud computing requires huge servers which consume massive amounts of energy usually generated from coal, and if everyone starts using these devices we'll only exacerbate global warming. This resulted in several responses ranging from the "I don't care, I want my iPad anyway." to the more reasonable argument that computing in general only amounts to a very small percentage of our energy consumption.

Indeed, computers are very efficient at sending data over long distances. But that doesn't mean that the iPad is green. Think of all of the toxic substances that went into it's production, all of the toxic chemicals that will result from its eventual disposal, the mountains of e-waste (most of which ends up in China) that will be generated when people who bought one throw out their now obsolete (read unstylish) gadgets. When you take those factors into account - plus the DRM issues and the social and spiritual void that the iPad can never fill - you have a product which is unsustainable, unjust, and absolutely unnecessary.

Needless to say, I will not be buying an iPad anytime soon.


michael~ said...

they would be 'green' if they were made from 100% recycled materials and powered by solar or thermal energy.

i would buy one tomorrow if thsi 3was the case...

but it is not.

Jeremy Trombley said...

I'm seriously disturbed about the DRM issues on the iPad and other Apple products. If Apple becomes the standard for mobile devices, I'm afraid the internet, software and computing in general would be increasingly centralized and controlled. I'm rooting for android to be the standard mobile platform, and my next computer (I have a Macbook now) will run linux.

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