Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have helped many people achieve amazing feats. Blockchain-based technology has provided artists with a new method to create and sell their works, enabled researchers to raise funds for scientific institutions and even helped Ukrainians during Russia’s invasion ( actually in many ways).
However Climate-based objections against NFTs stem from the belief that the environment must be sacrificed in order to allow for superfluous artwork and cat gifs that can’t be altered.
This is why critics of NFTs for environmental reasons tend to view the issue as a well-defined issue.
Artists need to either take a clear stand or risk being written off as history.
But how do NFTs impact the enviroment? Let’s take a closer took
How NFTs Impact The Enviroment
NFTs do not directly impact the environment. However, how they are created can have environmental impacts. Let’s look at how NFTs are produced using proof-of work to see how much energy it uses.
It is common for an NFT to be listed in an NFT marketplace before it can be minted. Although listing an NFT does not require much energy, it is important to consider where the NFT will be listed. OpenSea hosts the Ethereum platform and is an NFT marketplace. This means that the minting process is energy-intensive.
The catalyst for the NFT’s creation is often the purchase of an NFT. The proof-of work method is used to create the NFT. It is “mined by cryptocurrency miners with large computing resources. Mining is an energy-intensive process that requires specialized computing hardware and large amounts of electricity. The NFT is made possible by miners who are able to solve complicated math problems quickly.
You might be curious about how energy is consumed in mining. The fastest miners are those who can solve complex math problems quickly. This means that miners need to have a lot of computing hardware and a lot of electricity. An international network of miners competes to validate blocks of transactions including NFT transactions. This requires that every participant miner extensively consume electricity.
Every transaction on the Ethereum proof-of-work platform, including every NFT transaction, uses more than 260 kilowatt-hours of electricity–equivalent to the electricity used by an average U.S. household over 9.05 days.
Can NFTs Use Less Energy?
Although transferring or minting NFTs is often energy-intensive, it doesn’t have to be. The proof of-stake operating system can create NFTs on blockchain platforms without consuming excessive electricity or negatively impacting the environment.
Because it doesn’t require extensive computing hardware, proof-of–stake uses less energy than proof–of-work. While miners in a proof of work blockchain network are motivated by the need to use electricity to mine blocks, validators who contribute to a proof of stake blockchain are required to agree to not trade or sell their cryptocurrency holdings. To secure a blockchain, validators must agree to staking.
Other NFTs can have a less negative impact on the environment. These are just a few options:
- Renewable energy: NFT-generating miners can use renewable energy sources. Although proof-of work mining can be energy-intensive, it can also produce the energy without generating any emissions. While solar power is the most popular option, there are also wind- and hydro-generated options.
- Investing in renewable energy: With some NFTs being sold at high prices, it is possible to dedicate a portion of the proceeds to renewable energy investment. The environmental impact of NFTs could be reduced or eliminated if there is a large shift to renewable energy.
- Investing in experimental technology: The proceeds of NFT sales can also go to experimental technologies that are designed to reduce or reverse the impacts of climate change. Carbon capture and storage is one example of an experimental technology believed to be able to solve the problem of climate change.
- Purchase carbon offset credits: NFT buyers who want to offset the negative environmental effects of NFT purchases can purchase carbon offset credits. Although purchasing carbon credits doesn’t actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions it can provide a financial incentive to others to reduce their total emissions annually.
How To Buy Energy Efficient NFTs
There are several ways to purchase an NFT that won’t cause harm to the environment. These blockchain platforms use proof-of-stake to support the creation and trading of NFTs.
The Solana blockchain supports a wide range of NFT markets, including Magic Eden and Solanart.
Algorand supports Aorist, an NFT-focused NFT blockchain that is climate-focused for artists. It also supports several NFT marketplaces. Because the Algorand blockchain was designed to never split–into duplicates, it is well-suited to support NFTs.
Cardano is a blockchain that’s known for being environmentally-friendly. 7
Cardano hosts the CNFT and Galaxy of Art NFT marketplaces.