How are NFTs affecting climate change?

by Tasfia Chowdhury 

Within currency and technology, the rise of selling, trading and purchasing non-fungible tokens  (NFTs) and digital artwork has been popularised by many but has subtly created a significant  environmental problem. In this mindless magazine article collaboration, I will discuss the climate  issues created by non-fungible tokens and how young consumers can push a movement to  persuade artists and companies, which create digital art, to change their practices to be more  sustainable. 

What is an NFT? 

Non-fungible tokens are one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork created by artists and companies, which  are sold digitally through a blockchain. Most blockchains run on Ethereum, a form of  Cryptocurrency and get sold through marketplaces online. [1] 

The Issue

 Although this has become a popular form of investment and a successful selling trade-off of art,  using blockchain to create NFT pieces has also curated a large environmental footprint.  Marketplaces for NFT art, including SuperRare, OpenSea, etc., have created their  million-dollar sales through securing transactions with Mining. [2] As the platforms run on  Ethereum, a blockchain that uses “238,22 kilowatts of energy per hour” [3], this has increased the  electrical energy consumed globally. Validating these transactions has also been shown to equate  to the same amount of energy used to run a small country, and once artwork is purchased, traded  or sold, this adds to the pollution.  

In addition, electricity consumption is not the only cause of the environmental footprint. When  artists use more computer power to generate and exchange, the number of cryptocurrency miners  rises, and each creation has its production and economic effects. 

Are there any solutions?

 A viable solution would be that NFT artists and companies sell their artwork but use a different type  of cryptocurrency to make exchanges. Using Tezos, Symbol or Polygon is a great starting point as  they all support selling NFT curations and depend on less powerful computer systems, which result  in using less electricity overall. [4] The younger generation pushing a narrative for designers to use  more sustainable forms of blockchains and raising awareness about this issue could also make a  significant change to the industry.

 Although media outlets mention Ethereum 2.0 as a more sustainable method, this is far from being  created. [5] However, if artists feel more at ease using the most popular cryptocurrency form or  believe that this would be the best option for their artwork, they can still reduce their carbon  footprint by: 

Lazy minting: This method requires only producing an NFT after the first and previous sale; this  would not drastically change the amount of energy used but will reduce the carbon footprint by 2x  as they on produced on demand. [6] 

Side-chains: Curated NFTs start by being minted through other forms of blockchain and then  moved onto ethereum. 

Designing Bridges additionally helps reduce the carbon footprint as this helps ecosystems of  different blockchains compatible. Blockchains which struggle to interact can do so through this  method, which assists designers in switching from using Ethereum to a less popular chain without  losing any of their data. 

[3] comparison-visa/ 
[5] [6] 

Categories Access Scheme

Tell us what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.