Crypto Art, NFT and environmental impact

    Crypto Art, NFT and environmental impact

    The Crypto Art and NFT market represents the new frontier of selling digital works.

    But what are the environmental consequences?

    Let’s find out together!

    The moment is hot: after Beeple’s record sale at Christie’s, the Crypto Art and NFT Non-Fungible Token market is unleashing a real gold rush.

    But some have wondered what is the environmental impact for the creation of NFTs NFT (non fungible token), which pushes more and more crypto artists to get informed and look for more sustainable solutions.

    The recent publication on Medium of research conducted by digital artist Memo Akten on the ecological cost of the cryptocurrency industry has opened up a new debate.

    Atken argues that while the Crypto market has the merit of offering guarantees on the ownership and authenticity of digital works thanks to NFTs, he argues that these mechanisms require a large expenditure of energy and are therefore potentially harmful to the environment.

    The processes of creating NFTs depend on the computational capabilities of thousands of computers that require much more energy consumption than standard server tasks.

    The Crypto system, in fact, is mainly based on fossil fuels, which implies a huge exploitation of mineral resources with consequent Co2 emissions.

    A single transaction in Ethereum (ETH) is estimated to have an average footprint of 27.7 kg of Co2: the equivalent of the electricity consumption of an American home over two days.

    When it comes to digital works, the matter gets worse. The process to validate an NFT is called minting and being more complex, it consumes more. 

    According to Memo Atken’s analysis that considers 80 thousand transactions related to 18 thousand NFTs sold on the SuperRare platform, the average energy consumption per transaction is 82 kWh, equal to 48 kg of Co2.

    On average, Akten calculated that the carbon footprint of a single NFT on SuperRare is 211 kg of Co2. The equivalent of a 1,000-mile car ride or a two-hour long flight. 

    Are there sustainable solutions for the Crypto Art market? Here are some scenarios.

    1 – Transparency and Awareness: clear information should be provided about the environmental impact of Crypto Arte and how to minimize it, for example by limiting the amount of transactions to only those that are necessary and confirmed.

    2 – Implement PoS Protocols: according to Nifty Gateway, it is possible to reduce the 99% impact by implementing PoS (Proof-of-Stake) consensus protocols on existing platforms to replace the Proof-of-Work (PoW) protocols that the current Blockchain and NFT market is based on.

    PoS protocols – the most famous at the moment is Harmony – use a different process to validate transactions and reach consensus. It is still a cryptographic algorithm, but its operation allows higher transaction scalability and less energy consumption. 

    3 – Adopt sustainable platforms: another solution would be for artists and collectors to use platforms considered ethical such as hicetnunc, Viv3 or Kalamint

    Today the discussion is very polarized: on the one hand there are those who argue that Crypto Art does not cause damage to the environment as John Crain, CEO of SuperRare, who considers Atken‘s analysis too “sensationalistic”; on the other hand there are those who instead manifest the need for more sustainable models capable of developing the Crypto Art market but at the same time respecting the Planet.

    And you, are you ready to discover the world of Crypto Art?

    Photo Credits: via NBC News


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