Earth Day 2021: How the crypto industry is getting closer to green


It’s as reliable as the change of seasons: another year, another Earth day, and another misguided missive about crypto’s outrageous energy consumption.

Last week the New York Times published an article in their “Climate and Environment” that sought to remind readers of the “amazing environmental costs” of mining cryptocurrency. It’s a prime example of what is quickly becoming an editorial subgenre, including references to questionable research claiming Bitcoin mining alone will push global warming above Accord levels. Paris, and perhaps most bafflingly a spelling mistake of “Ethereum”.

For those who believe in the transformative power and potential of blockchain, these often misguided or under-researched critiques are hard to accept – difficult primarily due to the critics’ rank hypocrisy.

Many of those who argue that digital currencies are both redundant and unnecessary tend to overlook the impact of their own preferred means of exchange. The printing of physical currency is a powerful contributor to rampant deforestation, but even worse, as historian Stuart Schrader has argued the supremacy of the US dollar and its “exorbitant privilege” as the world’s reserve currency is inseparably linked to the US Army – perhaps the most environmentally destructive force on the planet.

Recent studies have concluded that the Department of Defense “is the largest institutional user of oil in the world and, therefore, the largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world”, and previous studies have shown that the US military competes with more than 140 countries. in terms of cumulative environmental impact.

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Ironically, a 2019 report from the Pentagon itself found that 79 US military bases around the world are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels – a risk spread in part due to US military activity. . But for all of the dollar’s calamitous resource consumption and, by proxy, the US military, many critics of blockchain power consumption continue to recklessly carry out transactions in USD. How’s that old adage? Don’t throw Agent Orange into glass houses.

Besides being blatantly rare and often programmable, digital currencies also act as exceptionally powerful coordination tools. To this end, the blockchain is moving towards sustainable models in unison: Bitcoin fuels important research on alternative energy sources; Ethereum is on the verge of transitioning to the consensus model of energy efficient proof of stake; even the much-maligned Ripple executives are arguing for more sustainable mechanisms. Seen in this light, it seems increasingly clear that fiat currencies are stuck in a polluted past, while blockchain leads the burden of sustainability.

In fact, at the upper limit of their potential, you can forget about digital currencies that mitigate their own impact. When the final ledger of records is counted, blockchain may well turn out to have been the primary technology that has driven the human species toward long-term sustainability.

This is a particularly prevalent trend in space on Earth Day. Many companies and chains are celebrating the holidays with carbon-negative roadmaps, carbon offsetting NFTs, and donations to green causes – all part of an initiative to turn the money, this which by nature means helping save the planet.

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Here’s a quick look at what stood out for TBEN’s editorial team:

Algorand promises carbon negative blockchain

As other chains reflect on transitions to proof-of-stake in an effort to go green (as well as dramatically increase throughput and efficiency), Algorand has raised the bar even higher, aiming to go carbon.negative through a partnership with ClimateTrade, a fintech focused on carbon offsetting.

According to a press release released today, ClimateTrade is helping Algorand build a “sustainability oracle,” perhaps the first of its kind, that will analyze the amount of energy used to produce clusters of blocks called “eras”. The chain will then use a smart contract to buy carbon credits as Algorand’s standard assets, which will then be locked in a “green treasure”.

“Algorand is experiencing accelerated adoption and network expansion. As this period of hyper growth continues, it seems crucial to us to operate at a negative carbon level. Indeed, sustainable growth is much better than growth, ”said Silvio Micali, Algorand’s founder of development.

Save the monkeys

Concern over the environmental impact of NFTs has been particularly pronounced recently by artists, often leading to ambitious projects, such as the Hic and Nunc World Art Day fundraiser on the Evidence Channel of Tezos participation.

Solo artists also seem to be part of the mix on Earth Day, as Myshli Studio by Danil Krivoruchko announces the sale of 1000 “Ksoids,” algorithm-generated collectible creatures. Critters are priced at 0.04 ETH per pack of 10 available, and the project’s OpenSea page teases that there may be Easter Eggs hidden in the mix as well.

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Myshli Studio said in a press release today that $ 20 of the proceeds will go to Orangutan Outreach, an organization that seeks to preserve monkey habitats, along with an unspecified amount donated to climate change organizers .

A lifetime of carbon in an NFT

As NFTs continue to infiltrate mainstream consciousness, there have been a lot of claims to “obvious firsts” – but a collaboration aims to make up for an entire human life with a sale.

Hitch, a climate neutral bottle company, is launching an NFT collaboration with South African artist Daniella Attfield. The collection, described as ‘neon’ representations of South African wildlife and landscapes, is expected to be sold in the Superrare marketplace, with the proceeds being used to offset ‘1,000 metric tonnes, or 1,000,000 kilograms, of CO2’ – the equivalent of the average total emissions of humans over their lifetime, according to a press release.

The offset will be achieved through a pair of carbon sequestration projects, including the Bull Run Forest Carbon Project in Belize which protects natural tropical forests, and Eden Reforestation Projects, which is currently working on reforestation in Madagascar.