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How delusional can climate change denialists get?

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, was confronted by climate change denialists in a shareholders’ meeting; they demanded that he focus on return on investment and stop making changes to reduce emissions. MORE MONEY, please, and SCREW THE ENVIRONMENT. Cook made the right response.

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.

Nice words, but I’ll be happier when I see less exploitation of foreign workers, and let’s not have any illusions that tech corporations are friends to the planet. But I’ll acknowledge that at least Apple is taking a few steps in the right direction.

If you’re cynical enough, you could also wave away Cook’s response as self-promoting PR. But if you want a fun read, you should see the denialist’s counter-response. The National Center for Public Policy Research has issued an angry denunciation. I think they’re trying to persuade me to buy Apple stock.

“Although the National Center’s proposal did not receive the required votes to pass, millions of Apple shareholders now know that the company is involved with organizations that don’t appear to have the best interest of Apple’s investors in mind,” said Danhof. “Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects. After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change. The only remaining question is: how much?”

Wait…so the people who are all about profits now are complaining that Apple, by making some minimal efforts to address climate change, is failing to consider long term prospects? Madness. If that’s their question, I’ll just answer it with “Not enough.”

“Rather than opting for transparency, Apple opposed the National Center’s resolution,” noted Danhof. “Apple’s actions, from hiring of President Obama’s former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, to its investments in supposedly 100 percent renewable data centers, to Cook’s antics at today’s meeting, appear to be geared more towards combating so-called climate change rather than developing new and innovative phones and computers.”

Whoa. The NCPPR is making Apple sound like a completely green company. Are we sure this isn’t just a PR front for Apple?

You know, I really like Apple products, and I have a fine collection of widgets with the Apple logo on them, but I have no illusions: Apple is first and foremost a company that makes lots and lots of money. Quarterly revenue of $38 billion and quarterly profit of $8 billion sorta says that they are rather focused on selling phones and computers. That the denialists would even think to argue otherwise is a testimonial to how delusional they are.

“Tim Cook, like every other American, is entitled to his own political views and to be an activist of any legal sort he likes on his own time,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “And if Tim Cook, private citizen, does not care that over 95 percent of all climate models have over-forecast the extent of predicted global warming, and wishes to use those faulty models to lobby for government policies that raise prices, kill jobs and retard economic growth and extended lifespans in the Third World, he has a right to lobby as he likes. But as the CEO of a publicly-held corporation, Tim Cook has a responsibility to, consistent with the law, to make money for his investors. If he’d rather be CEO of the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, he should apply.”

Interesting. I remember when the denialists would argue that the planet wasn’t warming (oh, they still do, sometimes); now they’re reduced to complaining that we’re pumping more energy into the atmosphere, but it’s simply not quite as much as the models predicted. That’s progress, I suppose.

I still don’t see how they can argue that climate change won’t be economically disruptive, or that it is imprudent to try and deal with long-term environmental changes before they actually demolish the markets they love so much.


A commenter has pointed out an article about that odd 95% claim. It turns out that if a scientist publishes a prediction with an upper and lower bound, and the reality turns out to be pretty darned close to the center of the distribution, you can just point at the upper bound and claim he exaggerated. Brilliantly dishonest.

Comments

  1. pamsmigh says

    Dear Mr. Cook and Apple,

    Here at the NCPPR, we don’t want you focused on just the “short term”, where you’re doing well, nor do we want you focused on the 20+ year horizon – where climate change gets more and more affected by continued and increased spewing of CO2. We want you focused on the >3mo but 20 years which we don’t give a shit about).

    Love,
    NCPPR

  2. says

    Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects.

    Since when was worrying about the environment *not* a long-term issue?

  3. Kees says

    I thought a problem with climate models that has recently come to light is that they often underestimated the magnitude and speed of the Arctic ice melt.

    Anyway, we shouldn’t worry about that. Opening up the Northwest passage for shipping, and inceasing ease of access to Siberian, Canadian, Greenland and Alaskan oil fields should be pretty profitable. Right?

  4. anteprepro says

    If you look at a massive, money-grubbing corporation and say “you guys aren’t being greedy enough!”, yooooou might just be a wingnut.

  5. Anri says

    PZ:

    I still don’t see how they can argue that climate change won’t be economically disruptive, or that it is imprudent to try and deal with long-term environmental changes before they actually demolish the markets they love so much.

    “In the long run we are all dead.”

  6. says

    Although the National Center’s proposal did not receive the required votes to pass, millions of Apple shareholders now know that the company is involved with organizations that don’t appear to have the best interest of Apple’s investors in mind

    2.9%. That’s the percentage I had read that voted for it. Sounds like Apple is doing what over 97% of their (voting) share holders want.

  7. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    When I saw that headline,

    How delusional can climate change denialists get?

    I laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

    After I caught my breath, and cleaned the spittle off my computer screen, I read the article, and this statement by the NCPPR’s spokesman:

    over 95 percent of all climate models have over-forecast the extent of predicted global warming

    and had to clean my screen off again. This guy simply isn’t in contact with reality. I would LOVE to see him asked for the logic behind that statement.

  8. says

    Two notes:

    1. The company which treats foreign workers badly is Foxconn, a.k.a. “Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.” You can certainly be angry at Apple for contracting with Foxconn, but it’s being inaccurate to say that “Apple is mistreating foreign workers” — particularly since Apple is not by any means the only tech company which uses Foxconn’s services. (Most western PC makers either use them to manufacture things or have done so in the past; the first time they were in the tech news with negative publicity was in 2008, when Linux users — erroneously but typically — claimed that Foxconn was deliberately trying to prevent Linux from booting from PC motherboards. The Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 all have Foxconn motherboards as well.)

    2. Between this and Cook’s resistance to Icahn’s demand that Apple do a stock buyback (i.e. manipulate the stock price so he could sell his recently-acquired shares at a greater profit) Apple is doing a more ethical job than about 90% of publicly-traded companies. This is not intended as a compliment for Apple — that’s like being the tallest of the 7 dwarves — but it’s marginally better than nothing.

  9. Gregory Greenwood says

    And if Tim Cook, private citizen, does not care that over 95 percent of all climate models have over-forecast the extent of predicted global warming, and wishes to use those faulty models to lobby for government policies that raise prices, kill jobs and retard economic growth and extended lifespans in the Third World, he has a right to lobby as he likes

    (Emphasis added)

    Hold on a second – do these climte change denialists, with the rank stench of their libertarian mindset stinking up the intertoobs even at this distance, seriously expect us to believe that they actually care about the life expectancy of anybody but themselves?

    Trying to invoke the suffering of people that live in the regions of the world that are harmed as a direct result of the kind of attitudes and policies that the denialists promote as a means of arguing against taking prudent steps to tackle climate change (that will hit the more economically vulnerable parts of the world especially hard) probably represents some kind of world record for callous, manipulative, hypocritical cynicism.

  10. sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

    “Tim Cook has a responsibility to, consistent with the law, to make money for his investors.”

    And indeed, he is doing just that. Is not Apple hugely profitable? There is this insane idea that started with Milton Friedman in 1970 that CEO’s had a duty to the shareholders make as much profit as is humanly possible with the company. For hundreds of years the view was at least part of a companies worth was how it provided a social good. Of course most companies social good was in providing the product they produced, but highly successful companies were expected to do more. Ultimately Henry Ford went to the Supreme Court who told him he could not actively destroy shareholder value by donating to social causes, which set the limit allowed (lest we think too highly of Ford, he was trying to drive the stock price down to prevent some large stockholders from cashing out to form a competitor).

  11. coffeehound says

    …and extended lifespans in the Third World

    Really? I love that they had the nerve to include this. Do it for my bottom line AND all the poor people.
    nimrods.

  12. says

    Why is it the rule that CEOs only focus on profits? That sounds like a bad thing, even for investors. Investors are people that also have to live in this world.

    That “profits only” mentality is immoral, or at least unethical.

  13. skylanetc says

    Readers interested in this latest talking point from the denier echo chamber:

    over 95 percent of all climate models have over-forecast the extent of predicted global warming

    can learn more about it and why it is bullshit

    here.

  14. rossthompson says

    If he wishes to use those faulty models to lobby for [] government policies that [] extended lifespans in the Third World

    Hold on a second – do these climte change denialists, with the rank stench of their libertarian mindset stinking up the intertoobs even at this distance, seriously expect us to believe that they actually care about the life expectancy of anybody but themselves?

    No, no. He’s saying that extending the lives of poor people is an evil that we have to actively strive against.

  15. jacquescuze says

    [Oh, I’m sorry. We don’t serve slyme here, and I see from your url (now deleted) that you are most definitely slymey. Bye. Don’t come back. –pzm]

  16. stevem says

    APPLE is “Guilty”, period. Whatever they are accused of, all that has to be said is “Apple is Guilty. period.” How long has it been since Apple was accused of ONLY making Profit, that their products were crap and overpriced and only raked in profits from PR, etc. And (King) Jobs was mocked for his “artificial” $1 annual salary, while making billions from stock value? Now that Apple says it will take a little less profit to be a little less carbon productive, people say they make Good products and are Ruining them to be “PC”. The inconsistency of the accusations leads me to dismiss them all with no further comment. pfft.
    Get off my lawn, you Apple-haters! I don’t like APPLE, but this accusation is absurd…

  17. eveningchaos says

    Steve Jobs has been painted as a modern day saint in some circles. In my opinion, his legacy has been to create a culture of worship of consumer electronics. This is what Apple has brought mankind. I would hazard to guess that since the Iphone/pod came into production the number of electronic devices thrown away before they were unusable increased worldwide at an alarming rate. These silly incremental upgrades from one version to the next are ridiculous, not to mention bad for the environment. If Apple really cared about the global environment they would release upgraded models of their devices only when there was a significant increase in usability to justify the tremendous amount of discarded devices that would result in said upgrade. Or they would design a modular devices such as the Phonebloks system in development.

    Check it out…

    https://phonebloks.com/en

  18. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    And if Tim Cook, private citizen, does not care that over 95 percent of all climate models have over-forecast the extent of predicted global warming, and wishes to use those faulty models to lobby for government policies that raise prices, kill jobs and retard economic growth and extended lifespans in the Third World, he has a right to lobby as he likes

    Okay folks. Before we jump the rails, pay attention to the fact that there’s no comma after “kill jobs” which means only one list item can come after the “and”. Also recognize that this is a list of verbs – “raise”, “kill”, and “retard”. The only reasonable interpretation of this is that NCPPR believes Tim Cook is “lobby[ing] for government policies” that “retard economic growth and extended lifespans in the Third World”.

    Or, you could say, he is

    lobby[ing] for government policies that retard
    1. economic growth, and
    2. extended lifespans in the Third World.

    Shifting “retard” to item 1 leaves 2. without a verb – see?

    No, they aren’t arguing that extended lifespans in the Third World is a bad thing. They are arguing that preventing global climate change that e.g. shifts plant habitability zones such that crops fail will have a negative effect on lifespans, at least compared to improvement we would expect to see and possibly in absolute terms. I don’t really get how shifts in epidemiology and famine and water availability will have a positive effect on lifespans, in fact, it seems to me that if you get plague and famine, some people will go to war, and then you’ll have even more death…

    …wait a minute – is NCPPR Christian?

  19. says

    NCPPR is just a wingnut astroturf group. For them to pose as shareholder activists who are actually concerned about Apple’s fortunes is laughable. It was beneath Cook’s dignity to even respond to them, since it was nothing more than a propaganda exercise on their part.

  20. says

    My many negative feelings about Apple aside, I am glad to hear a prominent CEO say this, to say that companies, even public companies, are not obliged to put maximum profits ahead of everything else. It would be wonderful is this started a trend of CEOs being willing to say this, but I fear many are probably worried their stockholders and other board members would be less than receptive to the idea.

  21. numerobis says

    The climate denier argument is that burning fossil fuels lifts people out of poverty (which it did for the developed world) and thus any attempt to be more efficient or find alternative sources of energy are tantamount to keeping the developing world poor.

    It’s an obvious non-sequitur. Being rich doesn’t mean you’re burning fossil fuels; being rich means you have food, health, safety, shelter, education, leisure, etc.

  22. says

    “I still don’t see how they can argue that climate change won’t be economically disruptive, or that it is imprudent to try and deal with long-term environmental changes before they actually demolish the markets they love so much.”

    Oh, they are just taking their cue from bad economists and discounting externalities because that would just be too difficult.

    Also, Travis, I believe current corporate law makes it difficult for CEO’s to do anything but maximize profits for shareholders. Thank Reaganomics for that. Without board and shareholder support, it is even difficult to reinvest profits into your own corporation — much less consider lessening the impact of our current means of production on the environment. The economic system we now have assumes we live in an open system. Ack.

  23. says

    I believe current corporate law makes it difficult for CEO’s to do anything but maximize profits for shareholders.

    When you say this, do you mean there are laws that require them to be beholden to their masters (stockholders etc), or are there actually laws in the US that force them to pursue the highest profits possible? Sadly I realize that stockholders are likely to be mindless profit seeking scumbags which is why I imagine most CEOs do not want say something like this, but if it is actually enshrined in law then that is horrifying.

  24. methuseus says

    As far as I have researched, there are no laws that say a CEO has to maximize profits for their company. The laws don’t tell them what they have to do, but tells them what they can’t do. As for what they can’t do, they can’t:

    1. Embezzle money
    2. Cause the company to commit knowing human rights violations
    3. Hire or fire in a discriminatory way (such as not hiring someone who is gay or disabled for only that reason)
    Etc., etc. (other blatantly illegal things)

    As for maximizing profits, he has the shareholders to answer to for that. And, as JJ831 said in comment 6:

    2.9%. That’s the percentage I had read that voted for it. Sounds like Apple is doing what over 97% of their (voting) share holders want.

  25. stevem says

    Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects. After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change.

    Whoa, talk about mixed messages. First they disparage investors for only wanting “short term returns”, and then disparage APPLE for cultivating the long-term investment potentials. Are they just yelling at everybody, for everything?

    Oh…they are “Deniers”! Climate change is (to them) just a fictional long-term concern, “Climate change ain’t happenin”. Long-term only means, “give me money next year, and more than you gave me last year!!!!”

    What was that old saying about “The Love of Money…”?

  26. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    eveningchaos

    I would hazard to guess that since the Iphone/pod came into production the number of electronic devices thrown away before they were unusable increased worldwide at an alarming rate. These silly incremental upgrades from one version to the next are ridiculous, not to mention bad for the environment.

    This!
    This annoys me too. So much.

    Not to mention that newer models of mobiles are made for shit. They are made to last pretty much as long as the warranty. So you have to change a phone even if you would like to hold on for longer.

    Same goes for various appliances, of course, which makes for a lot of garbage.

  27. kreativekaos says

    Nice words, but I’ll be happier when I see less exploitation of foreign workers, and let’s not have any illusions that tech corporations are friends to the planet.

    Bingo!

  28. lochaber says

    Also in agreement with what eveningchaos posted up in 18.

    One of the reasons I used to like Apple was I found their products to be pretty durable and long-lasting. I’ve got an old macbook on my desk here that still works (albeit, a bit to slow to use for anything web-related…) after ~12-14 years.

    I don’t feel that their more recent products are quite as durable. Plus the blatant disposability of the iphones and ipads, combined with the excessive marketing and hype to push the latest iteration disturbs me.

  29. says

    Well, generally Apple products are solid and well made, and I am able to use them for 3-5 years before obsolescence and increasingly demanding OSs make them too inefficient. That’s the real problem: software grows more complex over time, and becomes difficult to run on the same hardware.

    Unfortunately, Apple is a premium hardware company, and I don’t see them marketing a stripped down iOS that runs on ten year old gadgets. But they should!

  30. zenlike says

    31 PZ Myers

    That’s the real problem: software grows more complex over time, and becomes difficult to run on the same hardware.

    Let me get you in on the dirty (not so) secret of the software industry: efficiency of software is an afterthought: if software runs on current hardware it is ‘good enough’, no time and effort is spend on actually making it run efficient.

    And when the software vendor is at the same time the hardware vendor? Then developers are even discouraged to make it run efficiently enough to be run on older hardware. Keep upgrading, baby!

  31. says

    To Travis @25:
    This change was a long time ago. Essentially it is written into the tax code that reinvestment monies are taxed at a higher rate than investment into other companies, etc. The mandate of the CEOs and Boards are to produce the greatest profit to shareholders; they will always choose to decrease their tax burden. Btw, if they do not do so, they may be sued by shareholders. It is interesting to note that shareholders are free of any liability of products sold by the corporation. So there is relatively little downside to being a shareholder and pushing for greater profits.

  32. robro says

    I’m glad that Cook said these things. There’s nothing holy about Apple. There are many issues (e.g. where are the women execs). Apple has had an environmental policy organization for a long time but that’s because they have to. They have to understand and meet all the regulations for all the countries and states where they sell products. They also try to influence…I think that’s the best word…those regulations and policies.

    Amusing that NCPPR suggests that Cook should be the CEO of Green Peace. As I recall, Apple and GP had a rather major fallout some years ago when, according to the story, GP wanted a “donation” for a good review. I don’t know the truth behind that.

    Vicar @#8

    The company which treats foreign workers badly is Foxconn, a.k.a. “Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.”

    One might note as well that while Hon Hai has its Foxconn factories in China, it is not a Chinese company…meaning a company of the Peoples Republic of China. Hon Hai is based in Taiwan.

    PZ @#31

    Unfortunately, Apple is a premium hardware company, and I don’t see them marketing a stripped down iOS that runs on ten year old gadgets. But they should!

    That’s a difficult problem to solve having to do with processors, frameworks, APIs, and so forth. There’s no question that obsolescence helps sales, but new capabilities and better performance (say improvements in energy consumption) require new technologies that can’t just be stripped out of an OS or the hardware.

  33. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    PZ,

    Seconding zenlike.

    It’s not just the software. The materials are crap. I don’t know about iPhones, but the others? Scratching, breaks… you could run an old Nokia over with a car. It’s just software built into a shit package now.

  34. David Wilford says

    As the user of an ex-corporate Dell laptop that’s over ten years old, installing Peppermint 3 has kept it from being recycled and/or tossed for a few more years. It’s no speed demon but it gets the job done.

  35. says

    As the user of an ex-corporate Dell laptop that’s over ten years old, installing Peppermint 3 has kept it from being recycled and/or tossed for a few more years. It’s no speed demon but it gets the job done.

    I love computing but I have to admit I am not one to throw away older technology. Likewise I try to keep them going. While I recently purchased a new laptop for programing and gaming, I have kept my old one around and will throw some extremely lightweight Linux distro on it at some point. I also have an old desktop, umm, also a ten year old ex-corporate system that I still use on occasion. Even my Android phone is an old Samsung Galaxy Spica that I have modded to run newer versions of the Android OS.

  36. Al Dente says

    I have a game from 1997 (Master of Orion II) which is so ancient that I have to use a DOS emulator to play it on my current Windoze 7 box.

  37. zenlike says

    39 Al Dente

    I have a game from 1997 (Master of Orion II) which is so ancient that I have to use a DOS emulator to play it on my current Windoze 7 box.

    Ah Dosbox, one of the best pieces of software ever written ;)

  38. says

    To bastardize The Simpsons

    Everyone knows gaming attained perfection in 1997, it’s a scientific fact

    Or maybe it is just me that feels this way sometimes. I guess I really just miss my adventure games. Sure, they are coming back a bit, and it is great, but I really miss those times. I am definitely a little bit stuck in the past when it comes to gaming.

  39. Dhorvath, OM says

    Travis,
    Heh. I am stuck in 2000. Sometimes I play the same game with better graphics though…

  40. John Horstman says

    I’m sorry, the complaint is that focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions *isn’t* looking at long-term ROI, that’s it’s too focused on the short term? *blink* *blink* O.o

  41. garnetstar says

    Tim Cook also said that if any shareholders aren’t happy with Apple’s position on trying not to increase global warmin, they are welcome to sell their holdings and get out of Apple altogether.

    In other words, STFP.

    Sounds like a good idea.

  42. fmitchell says

    If Tim Cook claimed that he was following the dictates of his religion, would they still have questioned him?

    OK, probably.

    Favoring blastocysts over women is a religious duty. Invoking the wrath of a god whose present-day actions are indistinguishable from chance is a religious duty. Looking out for the poor and for future generations is anti-capitalist political correctness.

  43. says

    18, eveningchaos

    Steve Jobs has been painted as a modern day saint in some circles. In my opinion, his legacy has been to create a culture of worship of consumer electronics. This is what Apple has brought mankind. I would hazard to guess that since the Iphone/pod came into production the number of electronic devices thrown away before they were unusable increased worldwide at an alarming rate. These silly incremental upgrades from one version to the next are ridiculous, not to mention bad for the environment. If Apple really cared about the global environment they would release upgraded models of their devices only when there was a significant increase in usability to justify the tremendous amount of discarded devices that would result in said upgrade. Or they would design a modular devices such as the Phonebloks system in development.

    Check it out…

    https://phonebloks.com/en

    Ugh. Just what the world needs: phones which are physically fragile because they are made of modular pieces, inefficient because you can’t count on any particular physical configuration or specifications, and prone to driver problems because the pieces don’t “know” about each other in advance. You must be a Linux user, given your willingness to pledge to use a product which will require you to become an expert tinkerer to make it work at all; normal people want a tool to do a job, Linux users want a tool so that they can play with the tool.

    As for iPhones: you do realize that those used iPhones, unlike the cheap Android phones so many anti-Apple people seem to like and which tend to become physically unusable very quickly, get resold, rather than thrown away, don’t you? You sound like you don’t. Your beloved Lego Phone Phonebloks will undoubtedly end up being tossed out as well, because only hobbyists will want to tinker with their phones and hobbyists won’t want old, second-rate pieces to play with.

    @26, methuseus

    As far as I have researched, there are no laws that say a CEO has to maximize profits for their company. The laws don’t tell them what they have to do, but tells them what they can’t do.

    IIRC, the law does not directly compel CEOs to maximize profits, but it does permit shareholders to successfully sue CEOs who do not maximize profits. (And no, I don’t have any precedents in mind, but I do remember hearing that it had been done.)

    In this case, I doubt such a suit would be successful, because Cook could argue that (a) Apple is extremely profitable, (b) being “green” in this way helps Apple’s reputation, thus improving products, and (c) failing to cut carbon emissions will eventually destroy sales.

    @32, zenlike

    And when the software vendor is at the same time the hardware vendor? Then developers are even discouraged to make it run efficiently enough to be run on older hardware. Keep upgrading, baby!

    If that’s the case, why do Apple’s products typically last longer than their competitors (3-5 years of average first ownership for Macs vs. 2 for PCs), and why do iPhones generally get a minimum of 2 major software upgrades while Android phones often get none at all? Either Apple is an exception to your rule, or you have it exactly backwards.

    @34, robro

    Amusing that NCPPR suggests that Cook should be the CEO of Green Peace. As I recall, Apple and GP had a rather major fallout some years ago when, according to the story, GP wanted a “donation” for a good review. I don’t know the truth behind that.

    Greenpeace has been fighting with Apple for years, making various claims over time. Their big, repeated tactic — which is unfortunately conducive to dismissing them as idiots — is to compare the upcoming products of the major manufacturers for, ah, green-iness. Since Apple’s products are kept secret while in development, they have consistently scored Apple as though they were unregenerate polluters in every way, on the basis that Apple was refusing to prove otherwise. So, long after Apple had switched to recyclable aluminum shells for laptops, for example, Greenpeace was claiming that Apple’s laptops were not recyclable. IIRC, one of their demands for advance information was phrased in a way which permitted it to be interpreted as a shakedown for a bribe.

    It has been suggested more than once that Greenpeace’s anti-Apple stance was either motivated by PR (as in “the iPhone is popular, let’s scream and yell about Apple”) or else involved tilting their criteria in favor of Apple’s competitors because they were getting bribes. The former sounds plausible, the latter not so much. Recently, Greenpeace has reversed course on Apple, incidentally, so the point is now moot.

    That’s a difficult problem to solve having to do with processors, frameworks, APIs, and so forth. There’s no question that obsolescence helps sales, but new capabilities and better performance (say improvements in energy consumption) require new technologies that can’t just be stripped out of an OS or the hardware.

    Apple has been particularly guilty of permitting feature-related bloat in the OS to drive hardware obsolescence — and not just recently. Most Mac OS releases since 7.5 (inclusive — 7.1 was not bloated at all) have either added non-mandatory background tasks which nevertheless cannot be turned off (just as one example: there’s no way to turn off the processes which actuate Spotlight search even if you never use it, and for several OS revisions mdworker in particular used a significant chunk of CPU time and disk access) or else added graphical effects which take CPU power and require better hardware, but which are strictly speaking unnecessary to make the computer run. (Core Animation, for example, could have been built to skip directly to the last frame of the animation when running on slow graphics cards unless the programmer specified otherwise, but wasn’t — and the slowness of animation was one of the reasons why some of the older Macs were dropped when that version of the OS came out.) There have been exceptions — Mac OS X 10.9 is actually dramatically more efficient on the same hardware — but Apple’s software team has definitely had an attitude that “people should upgrade to meet our expectations” and under Jobs, at least, they were given free rein. (I’d love to discover that Cook is trying to keep older computers in the fold for longer.)

  44. says

    Im taking Cook up on his his recommendation and selling my Apple stock
    in my 401K and while im at it, switching to Android from my Iphone. Steve Jobs was a hippie
    with his head screwed on right and Cook has his head up his ass.

  45. Louis says

    Oh sorry, was my previous comment answering the question posed in the OP too short? Climate change denialists are, hehe, denialists. It’s not about the facts, it’s not about the data, there’s some species of motivated reasoning going on, so there’s no limit to the delusion. Pick a really delusional claim or argument by your favourite delusional denialist of any stripe. That’s how delusional. When you refuse to anchor your view to reality the pink and green polka-dotted sky-sea is your limit.

    Louis

  46. says

    I just heard on the CBC that Royal Dutch Shell is *counting* on climate change, because it means a longer drilling season in the Arctic.

  47. kreativekaos says

    eveningchaos@18:

    Steve Jobs has been painted as a modern day saint in some circles. In my opinion, his legacy has been to create a culture of worship of consumer electronics. This is what Apple has brought mankind. I would hazard to guess that since the Iphone/pod came into production the number of electronic devices thrown away before they were unusable increased worldwide at an alarming rate. These silly incremental upgrades from one version to the next are ridiculous, not to mention bad for the environment. If Apple really cared about the global environment they would release upgraded models of their devices only when there was a significant increase in usability to justify the tremendous amount of discarded devices that would result in said upgrade. Or they would design a modular devices such as the Phonebloks system in development.

    PZ Myers@31

    Well, generally Apple products are solid and well made, and I am able to use them for 3-5 years before obsolescence and increasingly demanding OSs make them too inefficient. That’s the real problem: software grows more complex over time, and becomes difficult to run on the same hardware.

    Unfortunately, Apple is a premium hardware company, and I don’t see them marketing a stripped down iOS that runs on ten year old gadgets. But they should!

    Good points eveningchaos. I think the same could be said of so many products in our environment, not just the consumer electronics variety, although they are some of most notorious for limited lifetimes,..the old ‘Planned Obsolescence’, or a sort of ‘Buy and Junk’ philosophy behind the business models of so many of today’s products.

    PZ correctly points out the problem that with the increasing complexity and sheer size of emerging programs along with the rapid rate at which they expand, creates a cyclical mismatch between program and hardware to run it. So that part is understandable.

    Where I think the real problem lies in the issue of the ‘disposable culture’ is not so much with the technology or the devices or the programs themselves, as such, but rather with the sociology or social awareness and concerns of our culture– our expectations, and who or what is guiding that social awareness or those expectations. It’s the ‘chicken/egg’ question: do corporations like Apple (and many others) produce what they, the way they do, because there was a long, growing need among society for products like these, or rather, do many companies put out a product and advertise it, convincing us we always need something more,..always need the next new product, the newest upgrade, etc.

    It reminds me of the fashion industry, the make-up industry, and others, where at almost regular intervals, supposedly ‘new’ products are introduced that induce us to purchase, even if many times that ‘new’ and improved product is minimally changed, if at all. There is a financial method to the business madness, particularly in this the US. It’s not incorrect to point out here that there is the underlying and unspoken business motive of keeping people on the treadmill of consumption–I think many here would agree.

  48. wbenson says

    Capitalism is evil. If cells were capitalists, we would have never gotten to the 2-cell stage.

  49. says

    kreativekaos:

    It reminds me of the fashion industry, the make-up industry, and others, where at almost regular intervals, supposedly ‘new’ products are introduced that induce us to purchase, even if many times that ‘new’ and improved product is minimally changed, if at all.

    Hello iPhone!