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Hey Al Gore! Why Can't I Turn Off the Monitor on My iMac?

03/05/2008 01:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There's a moment that happens rather quickly whenever you buy an Apple product where you go "It can't WHAT???" It was around lunch time on June 1st (i-Day) when I realized that my new iPhone couldn't copy and paste, so if I wanted to text a friend someone else's phone number I had to remember it and then type. Around 5pm I learned that you have to look at it so much to use it that you'd be better off doing a crossword puzzle while driving than trying to make a phone call.

However, after realizing that the new iMac I got doesn't have any simple way of turning off the screen, my reaction went from "it can't WHAT?!!!" to "They're bragging about how the MacBook Air is all earth-friendly because it doesn't have arsenic in it, and yet my iMac can't WHAT?!!!", followed by "Al Gore sits on the board of this very company that makes my computer, the first desktop computer since oh, 1984 that doesn't have a button to turn of the screen and save energy?"

There's 24x3 inches of shiny, blank aluminum under the screen where they could fit at least 100 buttons, let alone one. The result of this is that I have my computer set to turn the display off after one minute of inactivity, which is great if you are lucky enough to have a job editing haikus.

As it turns out, aside from taking arsenic out of their newest laptop, Apple has done next to nothing to reduce its environmental impact. Climate Counts, an organization that measures what companies are really doing to reduce their impact on climate change beyond making a few greenwashed products, gave Apple a score of 2 out of 100. (Their list is full of surprises. Newscorp, which owns Fox news, which is ruining America and MySpace, which is ruining my life, gets a 57.)

And whatever they've done to deserve that score, which is mostly based on pre-consumption since most products stamp out their climate footprint long before it hits the shelf (I imagine that manufacturing in China can't help), it might explain why yesterday at their shareholders meeting, investors rejected a shareholder proposal to create a sustainability committee. Apple even suggested to its shareholders that they vote against it. Apparently Al was there and didn't vote but did not respond when investors asked him about it. Nice one!

Don't get me wrong, if Apple asked me to be on their board, which at the very least would mean free iPods for life, I would do it, and that's why I, Max Bernstein, will never win the Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore on the other hand does have a Nobel Peace Prize, and I'm not saying that you have to all of a sudden be some kind of Gandhi/Jesus/Batman hybrid once you get one, but at the very least you could encourage a company on whose board you sit do adopt some environmental practices more meaningful than asking Al Gore to sit on their board. Like having a sustainability committee. Like doing something in your manufacturing to reduce your climate footprint. Like putting a switch on my damn monitor.

Addendum for people who don't get that this post wasn't me asking how to turn my monitor off: I know about sleep mode and use it all the time. You can't listen to music in it, and I and many other people use their computers for that.

Apple had a shareholder meeting yesterday where they declined to have a sustainability committee to improve their environmental practices, despite having a climate score of 2 out of 100, and the company asked it's investors to vote NO on starting one. The point I am making is that Apple is advertising a greenwashed product (MacBook Air) when as a company it has a terrible environmental record, and to top it off one of their most popular computers doesn't have an energy saving device (a monitor on/off switch) for people who like to stay out of system preferences panes and pulldown menus, which last I checked is EXACTLY the people that Apple markets its consumer-grade computers to, no?