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The other Amazon fires

29 Jan 2020 | News Roundup

The BBC reports that Amazon, as in the big online retailer, is threatening to fire, as in dismiss, a number of employees for trashing their employer in public. Well, not trash. They are far too ecologically sensitive. But the employees insist on the right to say the company is a climate villain and must achieve zero emissions by 2030, that it should “limit its work with fossil fuel companies, and stop funding politicians and lobbyists who deny the existence of climate change.” Amazon would rather not be paying people to slag it in public. What they should do is ask the activist employees to volunteer to deliver packages on foot and stop driving cars to work. Then there won’t be any need for Amazon to fire anyone because the company will fold and they’ll all be laid off.

The Guardian is of course horrified at this formerly woke company suddenly being concerned about its business operations. It profiles a brave, teary employee saying “It was scary to be called into a meeting like that, and then to be given a follow-up email saying that if I continued to speak up, I could be fired. But I spoke up because I’m terrified by the harm the climate crisis is already causing, and I fear for my children’s future. Any policy that says I can’t talk about something that is a threat to my children – all children – is a problem for me.”

Of course the Guardian, too, would never deliver newspapers in gas-powered trucks, heat or power their presses and servers with fossil fuels, employ people who went to work in cars or… hey, this purity business is tricky. And if you work there and shout that your employer is doing a lousy sanctimonious job, well, funny you would say the word job.

Purity is a lot easier second-hand. Joe Biden, who is currently flying about frantically trying to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination and who has spent a political career living foot-to-mouth, recently told a bunch of coal miners to “learn to code”. One would enjoy watching Biden try to code… or possibly not. But it’s a classic faux regular-guy position complete with cussing: “Anybody who can go down 300-3,000 feet in a mine sure as hell can learn how to program as well. But we don’t think of it that way. Anybody who can throw coal into furnace can learn how to program for God’s sake.”

On the plus side, computers don’t use power. Oh wait. They do. Nature warned in late 2018 that the world’s data centres alone use an estimated 200 terawatt hours per year, more than the total electricity consumption of some nations including Iran. It’s “only” half the electricity used by transportation and 1% of total global demand. But it’s rising fast. And Fortune pointed out a year later that when the music video for “Despacito”, whatever that might be, hit 5 billion YouTube views (nearly one per human on Earth), it alone “burned as much energy as 40,000 U.S. homes use in a year.” Moreover, should you for some reason undertake one, “A Google search for ‘Despacito’ activates servers in six to eight data centres round the world – consuming very real energy resources.” (And you discover that it’s a song in which a man describes in some detail in Spanish his desire to have sex relations with a woman.)

Of course if you Google Google’s energy use, your top search results are all about how all Google’s energy is renewables… sort of. It’s always somebody else who’s the bad guy. Like the BBC flying someone to interview Greta Thunberg.

One comment on “The other Amazon fires”

  1. Why don't politicians ever commit to reducing their own use of planes and limousines - or the government budget for travel - by 3% per year?
    Hypocrites! Every. Last. One.

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