The Continuing Corporate Secrecy of Amazon's Environmental Impact
The Continuing Corporate Secrecy of Amazon's Environmental Impact
By Eloisa Lewis / filmsforaction.org

Perform a simple search, and you will find Amazon Web Services (AMZN) touches upon the environmental impact of their data infrastructures on their website in an entirely inadequate and embarrassingly oversimplified way. A summarized defense of their practices is found three paragraphs in (of three paragraphs total) — “Cloud computing is inherently more environmentally-friendly than traditional computing.” But how clean is your cloud computing, Amazon? Greenpeace and other environmental protection activists have been asking this question since 2012.

In the early years of cloud computing, many seemed to feign ignorance about the very real, very physical infrastructure of the “intangible” cloud. The cloud, in all its various corporate manifestations, happily sold itself as a mystical, transcendental landscape that performed operations and stored potentially limitless data. The material reality is that the cloud system exists via massive data centers, which pull tremendous amounts of energy as they process and store the expanding network of data that humans constantly alter and generate within the cloud. 

Though Amazon Web Services is a global leader in cloud computing, it refuses to disclose a satisfactory record of their infrastructural eco-impact. The only morsel of a positive factual claim regarding their energy consumption on their website is: “Both the Oregon and GovCloud Regions use 100% carbon-free power.” Other than that, Amazon is essentially opaque as to what their environmental effect is on our communities and our planet. Jack Clark, publishing for the UK’s The Register, delves into the dirty history of data center coal usage and why we should be concerned about the energy sources of cloud storage. 

The largest internet corporations are often the heaviest data center users, which is why companies like Amazon need to be honest about the stress they place on our ecosystems and adapt their technologies to be more efficient. Underworked, or “zombie” servers are just another example of the problematic and wasteful potential of data storage centers. These immense machines suck up electricity while, essentially, not performing any functions. To read more about zombie servers, Christina Nunez writes on the topic for National Geographic, here.

Amazon’s infrastructure is only growing, with property acquisitions in Virginia, Ireland, and -- more recently -- Melbourne, Australia. A chart of their regional products and services is essentially a map of their physical footprint. Their material domain extends far and wide across the globe — and, disturbingly, Amazon has yet to release any useful, concrete information about its energy usage or plans for sustainability. Greenpeace, in their 2014 resurgent campaign #ClickClean, queries: "What does Amazon have to hide?" 

In the wake of the NYC People's Climate March and the UN Climate Summit, demanding a company like Amazon to be more transparent -- and therefore able to be investigated and held accountable -- is a necessary step toward real progress and change.

/ Eloisa Lewis

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
This Text Message Exchange Between a Mother and Daughter is Pure Gold
Belinda Hankins · 7,077 views today · When Belinda Hankins got a text message from her 13-year-old daughter, who was shopping for period products, it started an exchange that will resonate with women everywhere. Enjoy.
10 Provocative Quotes from Ivan Illich's "Deschooling Society"
Daniel Lattier · 6,239 views today · Ivan Illich’s groundbreaking book Deschooling Society (1971) offers a radical critique of the institutionalization of education within modern societies. Illich believed that we...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 5,977 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 2,755 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 2,430 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
What You Might Notice If You Forgot Your Phone For a Day
2 min · 2,007 views today · There is a moment happening right in front of you, right this second, and you just might be missing it
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 1,764 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
Ikigai - Finding Your Reason for Being
Chip Richards · 1,686 views today · What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning? When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 1,628 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 1,227 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
Superblocks: How Barcelona Is Taking City Streets Back From Cars
5 min · 1,177 views today · Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,084 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 972 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Throw (2016)
10 min · 714 views today · The first installment of Invisible Thread, an ongoing ELM passion project series, Throw tells the story of an outsider from East Baltimore, an area challenged by gang violence...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 693 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 677 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
11 Traits of People With High Emotional Intelligence
Raven Fon · 673 views today · Lately, new ways to describe human interactions, social behaviours, and many facets of psychology have emerged on the social network scene. One of those descriptions is “high...
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 529 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Forest Man
16 min · 469 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 458 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Continuing Corporate Secrecy of Amazon's Environmental Impact