June 19, 2013
Do you know anyone who, no matter what you do for them, it’s just not quite good enough? They really liked that sweater you bought them, but they would have loved it if you’d gotten it in that other shade of blue. Or those seats you got them for the ball game were great except that they were in the sun all afternoon. If you’re like most people, you probably have a friend or acquaintance that meets this description; but, if you don’t, I’m sure the guys at Facebook would be happy to introduce you to Greenpeace.
In case you haven’t heard, in their efforts to be good planetary stewards and to avoid any damage to their stock price, Facebook just opened a new data center in within the environmentally friendly climes of Lulea, Sweden. This probably seemed like a good choice since I don’t think that any of us has ever heard of anyone by the name of Bjorn or Inga described as a carbon spewing eco-fascist. And to double down on their green bona fides, they elected to power their Scandinavian monument to energy efficiency with 100% renewable hydro-electric power. Talk about your “how do you like me now, guys” moments. One can only imagine the pride, and relief, Facebook must have felt when it placed this offering upon Greenpeace’s Altar of Corporate Guilt after two years of being hectored to “unfriend dirty coal”.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the folks at Greenpeace greeted Facebook’s effort to curry favor in the same way a dog tries to win its master’s approval by bringing him his slippers with, shall we say, petulant indifference. While they did give everybody’s favorite social media site a pat on the head for the site’s use of renewable energy, they then smacked them on the nose for selecting a provider that invests in non-renewable energy for other customers. Kids, in the business world we call that a “clap and slap”. Facebook appears to have adopted the philosophy of letting discretion be the better part of valor and has not publically responded to Greenpeace’s decision to view their efforts with the enthusiasm one usually reserves for times when they find something unpleasant on the sole of their shoe. Although I applaud Facebook’s decision not to engage with these “eco-thugs” you have to think that, at a minimum, Zuckerberg unfriended them.
Now that they’ve strong armed, I mean convinced, Google into believing in its Paul Bunyan strategy and told Facebook, “close but no cigar” you have to wonder who’s next on the Greenpeace hit list. Microsoft probably thinks its safe with its new methane strategy but that requires humans, and I don’t think the Greenpeace folks like them very much either (Who says Malthusians aren’t alive and well?). Now I’m sure the Greenpeace folks mean well, and they do serve a purpose in the Green movement—who do you think buys all of Al Gore’s books—but they don’t understand business, and their agenda is definitively anti-progress. My suggestion is to let Google and Facebook fight their own battles—or continue their strategy of appeasement, whichever they decide—but for the rest of us, let’s just understand that no matter what we do it will never be enough. Greenpeace seems intent on waging an all or nothing campaign, I say since we can’t give them all they want, let’s give them nothing.