In a non-satirical move so bizarre that even The Onion would be astonished, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK branch decided to release NFTs dubbed “Tokens For Nature”.
The funds generated from NFT sales will go towards our vital conservation work – helping to protect the future of these endangered species and their habitats.1
In a day, they would pull this rug from under those who bought into it.2
Not WWF’s first time, by the way. They’ve also released “NFA Non-Fungible Animals”3 in the past “to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of ten endangered species.”
What are NFTs?
In economics, a fungible (replaceable) asset is something whose value can be exchanged, such as money. E.g., Php 500 bill = 500 pcs of Php 1 coin—same value. However, if something is not replaceable because it is unique, it is “non-fungible.”
Many works of art, such as paintings, are unique. You can take a photo of the painting or buy a copy, but there will always be only the one original. In the digital world, these unique assets are called NFTs. They can be bought and sold like any other object, but they are not tangible.
However, since digital files can be duplicated endlessly quite easily, there are digital tokens (certificates) that function as ownership certificates for virtual assets. NFTs thus remain unique and forgery-proof.
What enables NFT?
These are just some of the things that make NFT possible.
Ethereum4 is a technology, specifically a blockchain, that lets you send cryptocurrency (aka “crypto” nowadays) to anyone for a small fee.
It also powers applications that everyone can use and no one can take down. These are commonly known as smart contracts. Meaning, trading NFTs can happen peer-to-peer without needing for middleman.
Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain.
Blockchain, in simpler terms, is a database system that allows for secure transactions on the internet.5 It can be also visualized as a public ledger of transactions that everyone who participates has a copy of. A wide network of computers—or nodes—constantly check to make sure the chain stays the same and that the only additions are authorized new blocks of data (or batches of transactions, if you will).
We, as a society, are now beginning to realize the negative aspects of centralized systems.
Consider: If we put our resources into a central platform, then that platform might as well be a single point of failure. Bad actors would only focus on one target to do their harm. The upkeep of this hypothetical platform, then, necessitates increasing amounts of resources, like security, safety, etc. Growing it not only becomes more expensive but also increases instability.
As mentioned above, NFTs can be traded in a decentralized way, because it’s on the Ethereum blockchain technology.
Although, it’s not necessarily cheap either.
Energy, lots of it
Ethereum consumes a lot of energy.6
Electricity that powers the crypto infrastructure still relies mostly on fossil fuels.7 And pulling fossil fuel from the ground itself damages the environment throughout the entire process.
Moreover, as more people adopt NFTs and cryptocurrencies, the computational requirements to validate the transactions become more complex, longer, and resource-intensive.
The heat generated from the machines that does these computations decreases their life span significantly. Which also generates e-waste.
Of course, replacing these computing devices would increase demand for mining rare earth metals from the ground.
Some [Reddit] opinions about NFT/Crypto
These are pulled from a reddit post.8
Fuckin nuke it, it’s complete garbage.
NFTs are a scam […] And a cult […] At best
The most awful, worthless garbage idea ever dreamed up by coked up techbros (and let’s face it, there’s some tough competition in that department).
It’s capitalism distilled to its ugly essence: An environmentally destructive, completely unregulated, yet easily manipulated market that commodifies absolutely everything that can be commodified, as well as some things that cannot. It privileges the haves at the expense of the have-nots, it’s needlessly cumbersome, ripe for abuse, devoid of actual value, and aesthetically barren (in the case of NFTs). The sooner we, as a species, come to our senses and get rid of that bullshit, the better.
I dread a future where crypto is anything but an embarrassing fad that quickly burned itself out.
Big fan of NFTs and Cryptos.
It gave me an idea of what specific rich people to eat first when the time comes. No better feeling than knowing where your next meal’s coming from.
It’s a no from me.
Just another mode of control posed as a new frontier. Again and again it happens, again and again it is spoiled from the start.
Trash, straight up disgusting fucking trash.
So… NFT for Nature?
WWF has continued to do more harm than good,9 and they expect us to buy into their intentions?
No Fucking Thanks!
This was a quote from when the project was still up. You may view the original as it is captured in the Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20220131183313/https://nft.wwf.org.uk/ ↩︎
Pforzheimer, A. (2021, March 29). NFTs: The hot new fad with a massive environmental cost. Frontier Group. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://frontiergroup.org/blogs/blog/fg/nfts-hot-new-fad-massive-environmental-cost ↩︎
More info at https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption ↩︎
More info at https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/charts/world-gross-electricity-production-by-source-2019. Last updated 6 Aug 2021 as of writing. ↩︎
Read more about their scandals at https://www.buzzfeednews.com/collection/wwfsecretwar ↩︎