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Apple CEO Tim Cook made worldwide headlines last week by blasting a questioner at a company shareholder meeting and insisting that his company will continue investing huge sums of money in green technologies whether it improves the bottom line or not.
“If you want me to do things only for (return-on-investment) reasons, you should get out of this stock,” said an angry Cook.
Now the man who asked the questions says Cook lashed out at him because it’s obvious the company would be losing hundreds of millions of dollars with their green projects if taxpayer-funded subsidies weren’t defraying much of the cost and because Cook knows the projects are not going to create profits for Apple or its shareholders.
The confrontation took place Friday at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting. In the question and answer session, Justin Danhof of the National Center for Public Policy Research confronted Cook about the huge amount of money spent in the company’s quest to derive 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
“I asked him a very basic business question that any investor or any shareholder of Apple would want to know. When you engage in environmentalism … is there a reasonable return on investment? Are you spending more than you’re saving? Cook first answered by saying, ‘I think that it makes economic sense, but even if it didn’t, we would still spend to our heart’s content all of your shareholder money on battling this terrible concept of CO2 emissions,'” Danhof said.
Danhof then asked Cook what the company policy would be if the federal government were not footing the bill for much of its green-energy programs through taxpayer-funded subsidies. That’s when Cook made headlines.
“That’s where he went off the rails. Cook refused to answer the question, and he looked directly at me and said, ‘I don’t care what you think. We’re going to continue to cure blindness.’ What does one have to do with the other? Obviously, Cook was deflecting the issue because, while the company may be engaging in a lot of environmental efforts, the answer is they’re engaging so they can make a profit off the American taxpayer. We’re the ones, John and Jane Q. Taxpayer, that are subsidizing all these solar plants that Apple is putting up in North Carolina and Arizona and California and elsewhere. That’s the real heart of it,” he said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Justin Danhof:
That's when Cook loudly scolded Danhof and suggested that he and anyone else not supportive of Apple's green energy efforts were free to sell their shares.
"I've been attending shareholder meetings for the last five or six years, dozens of them, and I've never had a CEO react and act the way that Tim Cook did at Friday's Apple shareholder meeting," Danhof said.
Cook is widely known for his calm demeanor, so what triggered his passionate response rather than offering a simple explanation that Apple's priorities were not the same as Danhof's?
"The company wants to tell its progressive investors who care about this chimera battle of reducing CO2 emissions that they're the leading company in the world to do so. In reality, they're only doing so because they're ripping off taxpayers. So I caught him in this dualism, this hypocrisy, and he was really stuck at that point," Danhof said.
"So he attacked his own investors. He really came untoward. I was embarrassed for him," he said.
While Danoff said he can sympathize with Cook being exposed in front of shareholders, he has fewer warm words for former Vice President Al Gore and his response to the exchange.
"I would have been embarrassed for Al Gore if Al Gore could still be embarrassed at this point, because he stood up like a three-year-old child and loudly clapped and cheered in my face when Cook gave that reaction. Al Gore is beyond contempt at this point, so I won't even be embarrassed for him," he said.
Danhof said the hypocrisy of Apple is evident in multiple ways, both in its activities at these green-energy facilities and in its everyday products.
He cited a massive geothermal plant in Maiden, N.C., built largely through taxpayer funds. It will eventually power Apple's local operations, but while those facilities are built, Apple is selling its excess energy back to the taxpayers of North Carolina who helped pay for the construction through their tax dollars in the first place. He says the cost of Apple's green energy projects is easily in the hundreds of millions and possibly even billions of dollars.
In addition, Danhof says Apple's own conduct shows it's not nearly as environmentally conscious as it would have us believe.
"You may want to actually take a deeper look into what Cook's response really means. If Apple was sustainable, they wouldn't glue their batteries into their iPhones so when your battery dies you need a new iPhone. If your battery dies on any other phone, you just get a new battery. On an iPhone, you've got to chuck it away and buy a whole brand new one. What's sustainable about that? Absolutely nothing," he said.
In addition to asserting Cook got caught in his hypocrisy, Danhof believes another factor is at play as climate-change advocates find it harder and harder to convince Americans that the planet's future is in peril unless major, costly steps are taken.
He notes that over the past few election cycles, concern over climate change has dropped from being one of the five biggest issues for voters to barely cracking the the top 20 issues that motivate people at the polls.
"For 17 years, we've been told the world is going to warm, and for 17 years they've cried wolf. We have a world (temperature) that's staying flat, if not cooling," he said. "I think that those who are really devotees of the climate-change line are starting to run scared. They're starting to become more emotional and less rational because the science is no longer backing up their wild claims."