NFTs have changed the landscape of digital art, but what few people know about them is the impact these devices have on the environment. Like any other electronic resource that requires frequent Internet access and energy, these Intangible Token also emits carbon dioxide and pollutants into the environment. The rapid rise in acidity in the oceans and the resurgence of global warming are some of the problems that the energy consumption of these technologies has their origin.
Secret mining funds (data used in the purchase and sale of NFTs) such as Ethereum and Bitcoin per year may have higher annual energy consumption than those of a small country like Argentina, showed a study published by Cambridge University. 2021. To better understand how this technology affects the environment, here are five problems of these non-fungal signals in nature and climate.
What is NFT? Understand how signal technology works
NFTs have transformed the world of digital arts, but they could adversely affect the environment – Photos: Disclosure / Getty Images
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1. It emits a lot of carbon into the environment
Any electronic device that requires frequent internet access and light emits carbon into the environment. This is because global energy production is still heavily dependent on non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. With NFTs, this is no different. In order to extract the crypto currency involved in the operations of these signals, it is necessary to keep powerful computers and machines in constant operation.
To give you an idea, Ethereum, the main currency used by NFT sales points, can spend up to 48 kilowatt hours per transaction. This equates to a monthly consumption of 30 minutes per day of bathing and approximately 3500W of power – a value that, when considering that the cryptocurrency market performs more than a thousand transactions per day, can be worrying.
In general, to keep the cryptocurrency market (and NFTs) running, several machines in a regular connection are needed. The more servers that are connected to the polluting energy grid, the more damage the environment will cause. Considering the global use of encryption, which is on the rise, this significantly increases CO2 emissions worldwide.
NFT extraction emits a lot of carbon into the air – Photo: Exposure / Pixel
2. It involves high water costs
More than just non-renewable sources, some countries – such as Brazil, for example – have a large part of the energy matrix formed by hydropower plants. This type of source converts the energy present in a stream into kinetic energy, which is the result of the force of movement. This flow of water moves the electric turbine – which empowers the generator to provide light.
The problem with this method of generating energy is that the movement of the turbines heats water, and this causes part of it to melt. In addition, it also releases hot water into the oceans, which destroys nearby marine life, and also causes problems with animals and plants near rivers.
Crypto funds and NFTs enter into this account when, by claiming a large network of computers that use energy generated by a generator, this movement directly encourages this evaporation of water. That’s because these servers require a lot of energy, which demands a lot from the plants they produce.
3. Accelerates ocean currents
pH is a scale from one to 14 that is used to determine whether certain substances are acidic or not. The numbers below seven are considered acidic, while the above numbers are considered basic. The process of sea acid occurs precisely when seawater begins to show acidic behavior – that is, the pH level begins to decline.
The problem is that this acid is not caused by nature. It started with the industrial revolution, when factories started to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is the state of carbon emissions by internet networks connected to non-renewable energy sources, for example.
Nowadays, cryptocurrency mining promotes a drop in pH in H2O molecules because the energy used to connect computer networks, for the most part, comes from polluting sources. The release of carbon from minerals reaches the air, which dissolves in the oceans, reacts with water, and then lowers the pH levels until it becomes acidic. This acid can destroy the animals and plants of the most affected areas, affecting, in sequence, the entire ecological system of the planet.
4. It has an increase in energy consumption
Cryptocurrency mining, used in NFT operations, is done to demand higher energy levels. This is because its performance increases its difficulty in mounting, requiring more and more power from the machines involved.
Mining means registering in Blockchain, a technology that works as a “book” of records of financial transactions of cryptocurrencies. These activities, in turn, are made into puzzles, which are nothing more than mathematical problems. The solution to this problem is done randomly by computer. So, the more powerful your machine is, the easier it will be to solve these problems – and the more productive mining you are.
Only after resolving the validation of the function is it possible to make a blocking record available valid on Blockchain. When this registration takes place, the miner is paid for the work. The problem lies in the complexity of these problems, which increase as they are solved. The harder it is to record a mystery, the more time and energy (and therefore more energy) needed from the computer.
NFTs claim secret money, which, in turn, is made up of mysteries with increasing difficulty – Photo: Disclosure / Unsplash
5. Global warming is likely to increase
Global warming is an environmental phenomenon characterized by an average global warming of planet Earth. In general, it happens naturally, but there are some human practices that exacerbate this process – such as, for example, emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In addition to emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas rises through the atmosphere and contributes to greenhouse gases – which, in addition to contributing to global warming, also increase sea acidity. Atmospheric CO2 emissions directly stimulate global warming, increasing the average planetary temperature faster.
This process, when done contrary to nature, has an impact on the global ecosystem. It can produce not only fire, but also melting glaciers, desertification, and rising sea levels, affecting animal and plant life and other life forms.
Are there ways for NFTs to become sustainable?
Sustainable energy sources are a good option to reduce the impact of NFT mining – Photo: Exposure / Pexels
Although the companies involved are experimental options – such as Ethereum 2.0, for example – so far there is no specific and effective way to reduce and / or eliminate cryptocurrency mining damage. However, it is possible to adopt some alternatives that can help reduce the problems caused by these technologies.
The most common and far-reaching of any country is the special tariff for the use of energy in mining. Therefore, energy companies in the country would need to provide an additional tariff rate for any investor who had large computer networks dedicated to mining. Thus, with the high cost of energy consumption for these specific purposes, the number of mining fields may decrease.
Another option is to invest in sustainable altcoins – i.e., secret currencies that use renewable energy, such as solar and wind. Some examples of this are Litecoin, Dogecoin and Solarcoin. There are also other digital currencies that, although they do not use renewable energy as a source, provide mysteries that affect the environment to a lesser extent, as is the case with Ethereum.
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