Today is Earth Day, a thing to which people always like to hitch a lot of symbolism and good will. Should you find yourself unwilling or unable to plant trees this afternoon or perhaps skewer some garbage with one of those garbage-skewering things, Apple has given you the easiest possible out.
Just keep on sending those iMessages, the company says soothingly in a new video. Every time you send one, the message is processed through the Apple Data Center, which is powered by 100-percent clean energy. Apple would like you to feel virtuous today.
I have nothing against Earth Day. Earth Day is rad. Using it as a marketing hook to get people to get out and do good things for the planet is totally fine, but this is a pretty meaningless move on Apple’s part. The video doesn’t actually accomplish anything or urge people to any sort of action; this is just Apple patting itself on the back for 45 seconds.
Apple has made a lot of overtures toward clean energy, some of them good ones. But it’s also been criticized for not doing as much as a company of its scope could be doing. A data center powered exclusively by clean energy is obviously very cool, but Apple could have tried a bit harder today.
What’s way more exciting than this feel-good but ultimately kind of empty video is Apple’s clean-energy initiatives in China, a country where clean energy is obviously not the highest of priorities. Apple plans to install two-plus gigawatts of clean energy there by the year 2020. Since so much of the company’s products are produced there, this seems like a way more meaningful step in the right direction.