The Blockchain Climate Discussion Has Lost Sight Of The Centre

There have been many debates about Bitcoin's dependence on climate-damaging fossil fuels and its energy consumption.

Many climate-conscious artists voiced their disapproval at Ethereum's energy consumption as the nonfungible tokens trend took hold at the beginning of the year.

 Elon Musk, who had been a vocal critic of Bitcoin (BTC) in May, said that Tesla should stop accepting Bitcoin as payment for its electric vehicles.

These events have sparked a lot of discussion both within and outside of the blockchain community. The arguments focus on two main areas: Bitcoin's energy use and dependence on climate-damaging fossil fuels versus its dependence on renewables, and secondly, the advantages of one platform over the other -- generally, focusing on consensus models and promoting Proof-of-stake to be the greener option.

Every debate is rife with arguments on both sides. The need to take drastic measures to reverse some of the damage is obvious if the IPCC is correct. The positive uses of blockchain should be the main focus.

Leveraging the strengths of blockchain

Blockchain's ability to crowdsource large quantities of energy that would otherwise be wasted is a significant aspect of its impact. This energy is then re-used for utility. Crowdsourcing waste energy is consistent with the principles and practices of a circular economy. This eliminates throwaway culture and enables us to re-use as many resources as we can. Computing power is just one example.

It doesn't matter if it's on a personal computer or a commercial server, there is a lot of idle computing power on hardware that isn't being used. Amazon Web Services is constantly building new data centers to meet this demand.

Blockchain networks, such as Cudos' cloud computing platform decentralized cloud computing, redirect idle computing power and put it to better uses, reducing waste. Bluzelle and Filecoin are two examples of other networks that focus on storage services. However, the principle is the same.

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Decentralizing energy grid

This concept is being used by other projects to decentralize energy networks. Brooklyn Microgrid, a hyper-local initiative that allows "prosumers", (producers/consumers) of solar energy, to sell their surplus and funnel it into a microgrid for other participants. This is the type of project that shows you can do anything if you willing to start from scratch.

The government of Vienna had funded an initiative that allowed citizens to receive token-based rewards for identifying heat waste sources that could be used in the energy grid. This is a slightly different version of the same decentralized theme but follows the same principles of using blockchain technology to benefit the greater good.

Trustless green credentials

The fundamental role of  blockchain technology is also to bring transparency and accountability to corporations and governments for their roles in combating climate change. Following the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation's introduction earlier this year, transparency in ESG (environmental and social governance) matters is a top priority for chief financial officers. The regulation, in its broadest form, requires banks and financial institutions to categorize investment products according to their green credentials.

Blockchain would be a great way to store and verify such information and increase investor trust in products with ESG credentials. It is becoming easier to imagine a future in which consumers and businesses can choose based on ESG ranking for any type of organization on blockchain.

It will not suffice to be the "least evil" blockchain platform. The community is far more capable of helping in the face of climate emergencies. It is equipped with powerful technology and some of the most creative, innovative, and brightest thought leaders in the country.

Blockchain technology has many positive uses that add more value to the environment than it takes away. Blockchain technology is stronger than ever for use in environmentalism.