The iPad's tenuous association with cloud computing has prompted the environmental group to criticize Apple for a carbon footprint that's "...much larger than previously estimated." The concern is that the proliferation of devices that make use of data centers requires ever larger facilities, most of which run on what Greenpeace calls "dirty coal power."
In the report, the group emphasized that they are not picking on Apple specifically. "We are not picking on Apple [and] not dissing the iPad. But maybe someone can come up with an app that calculates the carbon footprint of using different web sites based on their location and energy deals."
Apple has received both criticism and praise from Greenpeace before. For example, Greenpeace hit Apple with a mock Apple website a few years ago and had fig-leaf clad representatives visit the first Apple Store in continental Europe. Conversely, the group praised Apple's resignation from the US Chamber of Commerce over the group's resistance to limit greenhouse gasses last October.
The iPad isn't alone among Apple devices as a stand-in for the environmental flaws of the entire electronics industry and computing infrastructure. Mother Jones magazine, a standard-bearer for progressive causes, has posted a rather blunt "scary truth about your iPhone" page; the app buttons on the mocked-up iPhone 3GS reveal details like where the tin, tungsten and tantalum used in the device are sourced. It's a clever approach, but the iPhone's components and manufacturing process aren't markedly different from those of thousands of other cellphones; MoJo's use of the iPhone, like Greenpeace's targeting of the iPad, is as much about harnessing buzz as it is about raising awareness of environmental challenges.