You might already know about NFTs and how they have seen a boom in popularity in the digital art world in particular. Many people participating in this trend claim that NFTs help artists become financially secure and grant them control over their own work, but the matter of fact is that the drawbacks of NFTs outweigh any possible benefits they may have by far.
The carbon impact of NFT technology is so high, it is simply devastating for the environment. Just one singular Ethereum transaction has an energy consumption of 1053.53 kWh, which is roughly the same amount of energy an average US household consumes over 36.11 days, and a carbon footprint of 500.43 kgCO2, equivalent to the carbon emissions of watching YouTube for 83,405 hours. Annually, Bitcoin mining has a carbon footprint comparable to Bulgaria’s, and it consumes as much power as Kazakhstan.
Everything was a mistake. pic.twitter.com/RnF4AC34KC
— Dwight Rhinosoros (@rhinosoros) April 23, 2021
Even scarier, scientists also speculate that Bitcoin mining by itself could increase global warming by 2°C within less than two decades. The amount of energy it takes to run the blockchain (the public ledger where NFTs are stored) is simply unsustainable in the long term and could cause irreversible damage to the planet, which is already affected by an ever-worsening climate crisis.
Even if we put aside the significant environmental concerns, Anil Dash, one of the inventors of NFTs, admits that this technology is full of shortcomings and that he regrets the fact that it has become so popular. He meant to introduce a technology that would allow artists to protect their own work and make money from it, thereby empowering artists, but as he admits.
Some other drawbacks to NFTs are the fact that only a link to the image is stored in the blockchain and not the image itself, and that the average art consumer has nothing to do with the blockchain at all. But the worst of it all, second only to the concerning environmental impact, is the fact that creating NFTs of other people’s works without their permission or knowledge has become a common practice. So much for empowering artists!