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March 26, 2024

How does NFT harm the environment?

In Brief

Dive into the environmental impact of NFTs and blockchain technology with our latest article. Explore how energy-intensive processes like mining and transactions contribute to carbon emissions. Learn about potential solutions such as Proof of Stake and eco-friendly blockchain networks. Join us in exploring the intersection of digital art, sustainability, and technological innovation.

Despite the opportunities that NFT gives for, for example, artists, we must realize that such technologies require great resources to exist, and the majority of people don’t understand how bad for the environment it is. Yes, nothing goes without a trace, and even when we create a digital object we also pollute the environment. You may already have a question:

How are NFTs bad for the environment?

They are just pictures, we can’t even touch them, they won’t decompose for 1000 years, what is wrong with them?

Despite the seemingly innocent nature of these digital assets, the blockchain technology that powers them takes a huge ecological cost that has unsustainable environmental impact in all of the senses. So, the energy-intensive nature of blockchain technology is at the core of the problem. Decentralized ledger functions on a decentralized network of nodes, each of which contributes processing power to validate and record operations, in contrast to traditional centralized systems, which depend on only one entity to verify operations. The integrity and security of the network depend on this procedure, called mining. 

If you’ve ever wondered how do NFTs hurt the environment, then: each NFT piece’s carbon cost stays after it has been mined, became unique, and set to a blockchain. Each bid submission costs 23 kg of CO2 (0.38 trees), each sale generates 51 kg of CO2 (0.85 trees), and each transfer generates 30 kg of CO2 (0.5 trees).

The consensus process used by leading blockchains like Ethereum, Proof of Work, which drives the majority of NFT transactions, is one of the primary drivers behind this ecological footprint. PoW needs miners to work out challenging math problems in order to approve transactions and append new blocks to the network. The processing power required for this operation is enormous, which causes energy consumption and carbon emissions to increase significantly. On the first Ethereum blockchain, a single transaction consumed almost as much energy as a typical American house uses in a week, emitting 109.71 kg of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

To understand how several miners sometimes get to the point of absurdity, Metaverse Post wants to provide you with an example when in 2021 there was discussion about building a coal-fired power plant in Missouri specifically to mine Bitcoins. Worth mentioning that the plan did not take into account the harm that burning coal can do to the environment. And all this is happening while the world is talking about greener and more sustainable production. Interesting, isn’t it?

Demand for digital art and collectibles is driving up the frequency of network transactions, which increases the energy usage and carbon footprint of these networks. Additionally, minting NFTs requires extra energy expenditures, which increases the environmental impact of these digital assets even more.

However, strategies to mitigate the environmental effects of NFTs and blockchain technology are beginning to emerge recently. Using the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism, which relies on validators who have a stake in the network and uses a lot less energy, is one possible option. Furthermore, with the Ethereum 2.0 update, Ethereum, the most popular ledger for NFTs, intends to switch to Proof of Stake, providing optimism for an ecological NFT’s future. But if we are talking about already existing ways, we can admit that some eco NFT projects are now based on the block chains like Solana and Polygon. They work on a PoS method that doesn’t have this impact on climate as PoW. To mitigate the environmental effect of NFT, increased knowledge and accountability within the NFT ecosystem are as important as technological advancements. A more ecologically conscious NFT market can result from initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from the transactions, provide preference to eco-friendly blockchain networks, and encourage sustainable behaviors among creators and collectors.

Disclaimer

In line with the Trust Project guidelines, please note that the information provided on this page is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as legal, tax, investment, financial, or any other form of advice. It is important to only invest what you can afford to lose and to seek independent financial advice if you have any doubts. For further information, we suggest referring to the terms and conditions as well as the help and support pages provided by the issuer or advertiser. MetaversePost is committed to accurate, unbiased reporting, but market conditions are subject to change without notice.

About The Author

Viktoriia is a writer on a variety of technology topics including Web3.0, AI and cryptocurrencies. Her extensive experience allows her to write insightful articles for the wider audience.

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Viktoriia Palchik
Viktoriia Palchik

Viktoriia is a writer on a variety of technology topics including Web3.0, AI and cryptocurrencies. Her extensive experience allows her to write insightful articles for the wider audience.

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