Ban cryptocurrencies, save the climate
While the whole world is pondering ways to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, a culprit that emits a lot of greenhouse gas CO2 is not subject to any restrictions: cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or even NFTs are based on the same technology.
Let’s talk about the NFTs first: all of a sudden, the virtual world is spawning a new product, a digital version of something that is put in a database just to prove that that digital version is a unique, non-fungible token (NFT) is.
This gave rise to the bustling NFT market, with NFTs like a short clip in which basketball player LeBron James successfully blocked a netball that cost $ 100,000; a tweet from billionaire Mark Cuban priced at $ 952; Actress Lindsay Lohan sold a photo of her face for $ 17,000, and the buyer then resells it for $ 57,000 …
Even the big newspapers, most recently The Economist, stepped in and sold the cover of an issue on decentralized finance that eventually sold for nearly half a million dollars.
When a group of people buy and sell products together, no matter how crazy they are, they don’t bother anyone, so they have full trading rights. The NFTs contained in the Ethereum blockchain are now worth up to $ 14 billion, compared to just $ 320 million last year, 2020. However, in order to record these NFTs in the form of a blockchain in the database and later record transactions, it is necessary to use a number of computers to solve complex math problems and use a lot of electricity in the process.
An artist who participated in protests against coal mining to protect the environment discovered that making and auctioning 6 NFTs had consumed as much electricity as two years of electricity in his salon. All of his advocacy against climate change instantly disappeared because of those 6 tiny NFTs.
The Verge notes that the NFT is called “Space Cat”, which is actually an animation of a cat sitting on a rocket launched to the moon and consuming as much electricity as a European household uses in one day. While there is much controversy surrounding the calculation of the power consumption of NFTs, everyone understands that NFTs are so harmful to the environment that many artists who made a fortune selling NFTs are now trying to rehabilitate themselves.
For example, artist Mike Winkelmann, better known by the stage name Beeple, once sold an NFT work for $ 69 million and claimed his future work would be “carbon neutral.” This means that, in parallel with the creation of NFTs, it will offset the emissions that are “sucked” out of the atmosphere by investing in renewable energies, nature conservation projects and CO2 technologies.
However, the power consumption of NFTs is nothing compared to cryptocurrencies. An analysis by Cambridge University estimates that Bitcoin mining consumes up to 121.36 terawatt hours of electricity per year. This amount of electricity is more than the total electricity consumption of Argentina or more than the combined electricity of giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft over the same period.
Since it is becoming more and more difficult to mine Bitcoin, i.e. to record transactions with this crypto currency, power consumption increases. Between 2015 and March 2021, Bitcoin’s energy consumption increased 62 times!
Worldwide, Bitcoin causes around 22-22.9 million tons of CO2 emissions annually – this corresponds to the CO2 emissions due to the energy consumption of 2.6-2.7 billion households per year.
At the COP26 climate conference organized by the United Nations, countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hit the net zero emissions milestone … but bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in particular are not under the control of the countries.
Ban mining here, bitcoin will move to another country.
Therefore, a common mechanism is needed to force cryptocurrencies to switch to clean and green mining technology if they do not want to be completely banned worldwide. Only then will we remove a huge obstacle on the way to saving this earth.