The World Wildlife Fund has decided to stop selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in response to the backlash they received from people concerned with the climate crisis.
NFTs are digital pieces of artwork that are all completely unique. They are connected to and use blockchain technology, which mostly operates through Ethereum, a cryptocurrency.
When a user purchases an NFT they contribute to a lot of energy usage—especially if they’re using Ethereum—because of the security system in place that makes people figure out hard problems using energy-intensive machines. The purpose of these puzzles is to use a lot of energy because it makes it less cost-effective if someone wants to mess with the ledger.
WWF believed they were using a more sustainable NFT technology when they decided to use the Polygon network to release their NFTs. While Polygon’s “proof of stake” process “to validate transactions” uses less energy, Polygon still uses blockchain technology in Ethereum, which is far from being energy efficient.
According to The Verge, “Polygon has contracts on the Ethereum network representing millions of transactions. Those contracts are necessary to move assets back and forth between Polygon and Ethereum and perform other critical functions for Polygon.”
Basically, they can’t isolate themselves from the impact of Ethereum. A digital economist, Alex de Vries, found that, instead of the 0.207 grams of CO2 per transaction which WWF thought would occur, it would actually be closer to 430 grams.
On Friday, WWF released a statement saying they would “bring this trial to a close.”
”We recognize that NFTs are a much debated issue and we all have lots to learn about this new market, which is why we will now fully assess the impact of this trial and reflect on how we can best continue to innovate to engage our supporters.”
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