Major tech companies wield influence on American government
Google increased the amount it spent on lobbying the US government 90 percent year-over-year in 2012, according to data compiled by Fortune. The company ended up spending $18.22 million, easily beating out any other American technology firm. Microsoft, in fact, came in second place with $8.09 million, despite likewise increasing its spending. Other major tech businesses that funneled more money toward lobbying last year included HP, Facebook, and Amazon.
Google buys $200M stake in west Texas wind farm
Adding to the search giant's existing renewable energy portfolio, Google last week announced a $200 million investment in a wind farm in west Texas. Google's nearly quarter-billion dollar investment in the Spinning Spur Wind Project is the company's eleventh green energy investment since 2010. It is also one of Google's larger renewable energy investments, second only to the $280 million the company pumped into SolarCity, a solar systems company.
iFixit accuses EPEAT of 'greenwashing'
In a caustically-worded piece, the CEO of iFixit has decried both the EPEAT environmental certification program and Apple's Retina MacBook Pro in particular, claiming that the former's Gold certification of the latter constitutes "greenwashing," or a form of spin in which deceptive marketing is used to portray a product as environmentally friendly. He claims that EPEAT bent the definitions of its own rules in order to grant Gold status to Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, as well as several other "ultrabook" class devices from other makers. The result, he contends, is that the EPEAT is ultimately weaker, compromised to a degree that could bring the technology industry to an inflection point, with significant implications for the environment.
Generally, phones becoming less toxic
Mobile phones are being built using fewer toxic chemicals than were their predecessors, and Apple's iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, along with many other newer phone models, are among the least toxic to have been released in more than a decade. This according to a new report out from iFixit and HealthyStuff.org. The two sites performed chemical analyses on 36 phones, finding that Apple's two newest models ranked in among the five least toxic, along with models from Samsung and Motorola.
Applying knowledge of cooling to buildings
Some details revealed about how Apple intends to make its Maiden, North Carolina data center almost entirely powered from renewable-energy sources have come to light, showing a combination of solar and fuel-cell technology and practical energy-saving policies. The plans show that the company behind the iMac are also applying some cooling lessons learned from computers to the buildings, such as variable-speed fans.
Allows Mac users to try out both beta environments
Cutting-edge users who have wanted to give the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview a tryout, or developers wanting to work with the OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview but don't have a spare machine to use for these still-unstable beta releases can work with them more safely using the newly-updated Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac, which now supports running both OSes in virtual machine environments to protect their "production" systems.
Group credits iPad with helping drive emissions
The activist group Greenpeace has publicly blasted the iPad and Dell over different environmental issues. The organization labels the iPad one of many "quintessential cloud computing devices" that are credited with driving the technology industry's demand for dirty coal power.
Chamber says bill could cause US job losses
The US Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday took a jab at Apple over the company's recent protest resignation from the business group. In a letter to the company's chief executive, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that Apple's resignation over the Chamber's lack of support for environmental legislation was premature and misguided.
New 3D software previewed
e-on software today is previewed Vue 7 at Siggraph in Los Angeles. Vue is a 3D-environment solution, which creates, animates, renders and integrates natural 3D visuals, working with Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage XSI, Maxon Cinema 4D and Newtek LightWave. Vue 7 will feature a third-generation of Vue's EcoSystem technology (for creating nature-based visuals) and Spectral 2 atmospheric engine. Also new is Vue 7's SolidGrowth 4 HD, a new indoor Radiosity engine.
Greenpeace pans iPhone 3G
Greenpeace is again calling Apple out on its environmental practices, citing that the iPhone 3G uses the same toxic building materials that it found in its breakdown of the original device. Casey Harrell, International Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace, released a note on Wednesday saying he believes that, while the company has made large strides with reducing hazardous materials in its iMac and portable computers, the iPhone 3G remains largely unchanged.
Apple last in industry
Apple has been ranked the worst among all major PC vendors and other large electronic firms in the fight against climate change. Climate Counts this week released its second annual Company Scorecard hoping to create a "simple, easy-to-understand ranking of companies would motivate both companies and consumers to step-up their efforts on climate change." Apple was ranked in last place among the list of 12 electronics companies, while companies such as IBM, Canon, Toshiba, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard were near the top of the electronics industry. Top honor went to Nike, which passed last year’s high scorer, Canon, to become the top scored company among the 56 companies evaluated. Apple was the only electronic company to receive a "Stuck" designation, with a recommendation as a choice to "avoid for the climate-conscious consumer," because the company has taken "meaningful action against climate change."