Some perspective on the environmental preoccupations related to minting NFTs and solutions for environmentally conscious artists
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) represent an incredibly powerful tool to empower artists and unlock their creativity, as NFTs finally give them a way to commercialize work and make a living off their art.
NFTs are created on blockchains, and these blockchains have varying degrees of energy consumption and environmental impact. Unfortunately, many observers and artists have dismissed NFTs over their purported impact on the environment and are opposed to participating in the crypto art movement because of their misunderstood environmental cost. We, at 0x Academy, aim to bring some perspective to the underlying technology used by blockchains today and specifically provide an explanation to the Ethereum network’s latest development (“the Merge”) and how it addresses these environmental concerns.
First, NFTs don’t necessarily have a direct relation with CO2 emissions. Let’s use the example of the Ethereum Network, the most popular blockchain at the moment for creating NFTs. Creating an NFT on the Ethereum Network requires a transaction, which is added to a block that holds multiple transactions. There are approximately 15.7 million blocks that make up the Ethereum blockchain today, and prior to the Merge, the capacity was approximately 30 transactions per second. Following the Merge that happened on the Ethereum blockchain on September 15th, 2022, the network has cut its energy consumption by 99.95% thanks to the implementation of a newer consensus method called Proof-of-Stake.
After the Merge, Ethereum now uses less energy than Netflix, PayPal, YouTube, etc. In other words, Ethereum has adopted a new environmental-friendly consensus mechanism and has become socially acceptable among ecologically-conscious users. Ethereum has joined many other networks using a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, including Solana, Tezos, Polygon, and the BNB chain. These networks have also fostered robust crypto-art communities and are home to many top artists.
Altogether, NFTs have helped to emancipate the digital art industry, which can now be considered an important and valuable artistic medium, just like its contemporary analogs. NFTs represent an amazing tool allowing artists to thrive from their art, instead of being restricted to client or corporate commissioned work. Not only do digital artworks now receive the recognition they deserve, but artists also get royalties on all secondary sales of their NFTs in perpetuity, ensuring they can focus on their art while making a living. NFTs represent a nascent technology that is in constant evolution, and Ethereum has done a great deal in moving its consensus method to its newer and more environmental-friendly consensus mechanism that is proof-of-stake.