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.