It’s as reliable as the change of seasons: another year, another earth day, and another misguided writing about the outrageous energy consumption of Crypto.
Last week the New York Times published an article intended to remind readers of the “astounding environmental cost” of cryptocurrency mining. It was a prime example of what is fast becoming an editorial sub-genre, including references to dubious research that bitcoin mining alone will drive global warming above the Paris Agreement levels, and perhaps most confusingly, a misspelling of “Ethereum”.
For those who believe in the transformative power and potential of blockchain, these often misguided or under-researched criticisms are difficult to understand – largely due to the critics’ hypocrisy.
Many of those who argue that digital currencies are both redundant and wasteful tend to overlook the implications of their own preferred medium of exchange. The printing of physical currencies is a major contributor to rampant deforestation, but worse as historian Stuart Schrader has argued the supremacy of the US dollar and its “exorbitant privilege” since the global reserve currency is inextricably linked to the US military – perhaps the most polluting single currency force on the planet.
Recent studies have shown that the Department of Defense is “the world’s largest institutional consumer of oil and, accordingly, the world’s largest single producer of greenhouse gases (GHG)”. Previous studies have shown that the US military competes with more than 140 countries on cumulative environmental impacts.
Ironically, a 2019 Pentagon report itself found that 79 U.S. military bases around the world are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels – a risk that is spreading in part because of U.S. military activity. Despite the catastrophic consumption of resources by the US military and the catastrophic consumption of resources by the US military, many critics of the blockchain’s energy consumption continue to act thoughtlessly in USD. What’s the old saying? Don’t throw Agent Orange in glass houses.
Digital currencies are not only verifiably scarce and often programmable, they also serve as unusually powerful coordination tools. To this end, blockchain is moving towards sustainable models: Bitcoin is driving significant research into alternative energy sources; Ethereum is about to transition to the energy-efficient proof-of-stake consensus model. Even vicious Ripple executives advocate more sustainable mechanisms. Looking at it through that lens, it seems increasingly clear that fiat currencies have had a pollution-rich past while blockchain is leading the sustainability fee.
Indeed, at the top of their potential, you may forget that digital currencies are mitigating their own impact. When the final ledger of ledgers is counted, blockchain could prove to be the primary technology that has led the human species to long-term sustainability.
This is a trend that is particularly prevalent in space on Earth Day. Several companies and chains are celebrating the holiday with carbon negative roadmaps, carbon offsetting NFTs, and donations for environmental causes – all part of a push to transform money, which by nature means helping to save the planet.
Here’s a quick recap of what the Cointelegraph editorial team saw:
Algorand promises a carbon negative blockchain
While other chains are considering transitions to proof-of-stake to go green (as well as significantly increasing throughput and efficiency), Algorand has raised the bar even higher to save carbon.negative through a partnership with ClimateTrade, a carbon offset fintech.
According to a press release today, ClimateTrade is helping Algorand build a “sustainability oracle,” perhaps the first of its kind, that will analyze the amount of energy used to make groups of blocks known as “eras”. The chain will then use a smart contract to purchase carbon credits as Algorand Standard Assets, which will then be locked into a “green treasury”.
“Algorand is experiencing accelerated adoption and network expansion. As this phase of hypergrowth persists, it is vitally important for us to work at a carbon negative level. In fact, sustainable growth is much better than growth, ”said Silvio Micali, the founder of Algorand’s development.
Save the monkeys
Concern about the environmental impact of NFTs has been particularly pronounced among artists lately, which often led to ambitious projects such as the Hic et Nunc World Art Day fundraiser for the proof-of-stake chain Tezos.
Solo artists seem to be joining the mix on Earth Day as well, as Danil Krivoruchko’s Myshli Studio announces the sale of 1000 “Ksoids”, algorithmically generated collectible creatures. The critters are sold at 0.04 ETH each in packs of 10, and the project’s opensea page advises that some Easter eggs may also be hidden in the mix.
Myshli Studio said in a press release today that 20% of the proceeds will be donated to Orangutan Outreach, an organization that works to conserve monkey habitats, as well as an unspecified amount donated to climate change organizers 350.org is donated.
A lifetime of carbon in an NFT
As NFTs continue to invade mainstream consciousness, there are many “first-time visitors” claims – but collaboration aims to balance a whole human life with a sale.
Hitch, a climate-neutral bottle company, is starting an NFT collaboration with South African artist Daniella Attfield. The collection, known as the “Neon Line” depictions of South African wildlife and landscapes, is slated for sale on the Superrare market. The proceeds will be used to offset “1,000 tons or 1,000,000 kilograms of CO2” – the equivalent of a person’s average total emissions over the course of their life, according to a press release.
Offsetting is being achieved through two carbon sequestration projects, including the Bull Run Forest Carbon Project in Belize, which protects natural rainforests, and Eden Reforestation Projects, which is currently working on reforestation in Madagascar.