NFTs - The New Digital Craze

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What are NFT's?

NFTs allow artists to sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including digital photography, drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one-of-a-kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.


NFTs have soared in popularity and are commonly used as an integral part of multi-million dollar trades. The success of NFTs has drawn the attention of artists and celebrities around the globe. It is a widely held belief that NFTs could solve many of the licensing issues currently experienced by artists of all kinds. NFTs are specifically designed to give the buyer ownership of the work. It is still possible however for the artist to retain the copyright and reproduction rights whilst selling ownership in the form of an NFT.

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What are the benefits for artists?

Artists will have an easy way to sell ownership of their digital work to interested parties around the world. Transactions can be made 24/7 and are safe and secure. Typically, as an artist becomes more popular their work will increase in value. There is a future-proofing feature built into NFTs to cater for this eventuality in the form of a trigger that is capable of paying the artist a percentage every time the NFT is resold.

What are the benefits for collectors and art lovers?

It allows buyers to support their favorite artists in return for exclusive ownership rights on a piece of their art. The fact that NFTs can only have one owner at a time means that it can be treated as an investment that can increase in value over time.

The Downside: 
Environmental Impact

On the downside, NFT’s are known to produce a significant amount of energy. This unintentional bioproduct is a major concern for environmentalists, artists, collectors, and nature lovers.

 

Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin but its blockchain also supports these NFTs, which store extra information that makes them work differently.  Any record entered into the Ethereum blockchain requires a significant amount of computing. This in turn produces a significant amount of energy thus generating a considerable size digital footprint for the artists and the minting and storage of their NFTs.

What is a Digital Footprint? 
Simply put, a digital footprint is the record or trail left by the things you do online. Your social media activity, the info on your personal website, your browsing history, your online subscriptions, any photo galleries, and videos you've uploaded — essentially, anything on the Internet with your name on it.

 

What is the real carbon footprint of the blockchain?

Proof-of-work blockchain networks consume large amounts of energy, which leads to large amounts of carbon being emitted. Best estimates place bitcoin at around 45.8 TWh, emitting around 45,800,000 Tonnes of CO2 per year [1]. The annual power consumption from Ethereum activity is estimated to be 9.62TWh from September '19 - '20 [2].

 

[1] Stoll et al., The Carbon Footprint of Bitcoin (2019)
[2] digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption

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What About the Future?

The inventor of Ethereum blockchain, Vitalik Buterin, is confident that a solution isn't far away. In Q1 of 2022 Ethereum will be undergoing ‘The Merge’. This represents the official migration from the old systems ETH1 to the new processes ETH2. Researchers say that energy consumption could drop massively to 1/10,000th of the current requirement. In other words, ETH2 is set to slash its energy consumption by 99.95% within months as it makes the transition to the new infrastructure model. Hopefully, this upgrade will be implemented seamlessly, and its efficiency will be successfully validated however only time will tell if this is the case.
 

Hopefully, this is just the beginning. The future does indeed look promising, but the battle is far from over.

For example: El Salvador's Legislative Assembly approved legislation on June 9 making Bitcoin legal tender in the country. After passing the new law, El Salvador confirmed that it would mine its cryptocurrency using geothermal energy from its volcanoes. Its president, Nayib Bukele said the country is already designing a mining hub that will use "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable" energy from volcanoes to power the operation.

Why does Give Back to Nature support NFT artists?

I feel privileged to have worked as an artist for over 20 years. Recently, I have witnessed many of my peers getting involved in the NFT world. Some quickly took the plunge while others stayed back and dwelt on the potential negative impact on the environment.  

 

So here are my thoughts on the matter.

 

I believe that NFTs are the way of the future.  Inevitably, as the process evolves it will gain in popularity as more and more people become aware of the benefits. Consequently, the concerns of environmentalists about the crypto industry are likely to increase.  We believe that all concerned would welcome an environmentally friendly solution. Many artists are presently jumping ship for fear of missing out. Instead of pointing fingers, let's educate them on the subject so they can make a conscious decision and find easy ways for them to at least Give Back to compensate for the negative impact their NFTs presently have on the environment. 

We all impact the physical environment in many direct or indirect ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water. For most of us, it is almost impossible to live in a way where our daily actions won't negatively affect the environment. Does this mean we shouldn't care and do whatever we want? Of course not. First and foremost, it is imperative for each and every one of us to constantly find new ways to greatly diminish our impact as much as we can and then, at the very least, give back to offset the amount of carbon being emitted by our daily activities.

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What can you do to be a more climate-friendly NFT user? 

  • Offset your daily footprint even once the network is upgraded.

  • Talk to your energy provider and ask if they sell renewable energy or RECs.

  • Encourage your government to subsidize renewable energy and tax fossil fuels.

  • Contribute some of your NFT trading or investment profits to your favorite carbon offsetting projects.

Give Back to Nature aims to find more ways to educate all NFT Artists & Collectors from all around the world about the environmental impact of this process. We want to educate and make it easy for them to give something back to the environment. This is going to be necessary to offset the digital carbon footprint associated with minting their work (adding it to the Blockchain). 

Our main goal is to start a movement that will entice all NFT artists to join an environmental cause of their choice not only to compensate for their digital carbon footprint but mainly to make sure we preserve our beautiful fragile planet for the generations to come.