Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's Snowing!!! Is that good for Al Gore? Reports of winter's demise are at least premature, if not entirely greatly exaggerated. It's snowing here in Bethesda, and some of it is even sticking on the grass, if not the roads. Going this deep into January without seeing any snow was downright freaky and frightening. Every Democrat in the country is declaring themselves a Presidential candidate, while Al Gore remains on the sidelines. I put myself in the company of those who cry "Run, Al, Run."

There is one matter that Gore ought to address before he announces a run, if he intends to so -- he does say he does "not expect" to run, but a huge faction of the Democratic Party is hoping he will. His great selling point is his commitment to the environment. There is a bit of an Achilles Heel there, that Gore ought to take steps to correct, whether he decides to run or not. Gore sits on the board of Apple Inc. (until recently, Apple Computers, Inc.). The former Vice-President and Presidential candidate is one of seven members of the board of directors. That is hardly a position of great strength -- at least not in numbers. He cannot be held personally responsible for Apple's policies.

Lately, an internet email has begun circulating that notes Gore's "Apple" problem. Apple has been singled out by Greenpeace as the worst environmental criminal among fourteen leading electronics manufacturers. This designation has fallen on Apple for years, but Greenpeace reports that Apple has done nothing to improve its position, or its environmental score. While other manufacturers have done much to improve their "green" standing, Apple seems to content to enjoy its profits and its "dirty" label.

The problem is that Apple's products are not environmentally friendly. They are not made from recyclable materials and contain toxic heavy metals that are poisoning the areas around garbage dumps. Most of these products find their way to vast waste dumps in China, where the heavy metals poison the groundwater, and the ever-growing mountains of garbage are a blight upon the countryside. If Gore wants to preserve his saintly standing on the environment, he must use his position on the board to pressure Apple into announcing a crash program to make its products more eco-friendly.

As I said, Gore cannot be held personally responsible for the materials employed in Apple's product line. While he sits on the board, however, he is fairly identified with the company's practices. I realize it's cool and extremely lucrative to sit on Apple's board, but Gore must come to grips with the following imperative: He must exert pressure on Apple, from the inside, to produce "greener" products, or he must resign, making a public show of the reason for that decision.

Al Gore believes he is uniquely positioned to lead the effort to reverse global warming. He is also fairly uniquely positioned to shine the spotlight on the growing environmental crisis arising from the vast stores of obsolete consumer electronics. It's on you, Mr. Vice-President. Your plate is big enough to handle this issue, as well. In fact, if you want to maintain the credibility you have earned on the global warming question, you will have to face your responsibilities in regard to Apple's poor record on the environment.

No comments: