Kramer was criticized for not storing the Apes in an offline wallet, but if something happens to that physical piece of hardware those Apes are just as gone. See, deregulated, unprotected assets is the whole point. If agencies or organizations start stepping into the marketplace, you haven’t disrupted anything, you’ve just invented a shitty bank. NFTs were also promised as a way to protect and directly pay artists, though several creators have come forward saying their art was actually stolen in order to create NFTs.

But whether you believe blockchain is the future or not, the undeniable problem with them is this: they normally create monstrous amounts of pollution in order to create ownership documentation for things that just aren’t real. The direct carbon cost of NFTs is hard to pin down, as they are so new, but we do know the environmental toll caused by some of the most popular cryptocurrencies used to trade NFTs. How do these various cryptocurrencies and tokens translate into real-world warming? The Verge once again has a great breakdown:

But here’s why there’s probably a hell of a lot of greenhouse gas emissions tied to NFTs: they’re largely bought and sold in marketplaces like Nifty Gateway and SuperRare that use the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Ethereum, like most major cryptocurrencies, is built on a system called “proof of work” that is incredibly energy hungry. There’s a fee associated with making a transaction on Ethereum — and, ironically, that fee is called “gas.”

Proof of work acts as a sort of security system for cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and bitcoin since there’s no third party, like a bank, that oversees transactions. To keep financial records secure, the system forces people to solve complex puzzles using energy-guzzling machines. Solving the puzzles lets users, or “miners,” add a new “block” of verified transactions to a decentralized ledger called the blockchain. The miner then gets new tokens or transaction fees as a reward. The process is incredibly energy inefficient on purpose. The idea is that using up inordinate amounts of electricity — and probably paying a lot for it — makes it less profitable for someone to muck up the ledger. As a result, Ethereum uses about as much electricity as the entire country of Libya.


Now Ethereum is working on this issue as are many of the other big names in cryptocurrency. NFTGarage says that its token, Garage Coin, will be fully distributed and won’t be mined, which massively cuts down on associated carbon emissions. The company is also using Binance blockchain, which claims to use much less energy than the big guys like Bitcoin or Ethereum by using a different set of calculations known as proof-of-authority rather than proof-of-work. It’s not the greenest (or cleanest, Bloomberg reported last year that the feds found more funds tied to criminal activity flowed through Binance than any other crypto exchange). Though claiming to be energy efficient, Biance CEO Changpeng Zhao became a bit defensive after Elon Musk criticized energy-intense cryptos:


It is incredibly difficult, especially as a laymen like myself, to separate the hype from the truth in the volatile world of crypto exchanges, NFTs and tokens. But I’m going to (unbelievably) side with Elon Musk here. This seems like a waste of resources that makes cars, an already serious source of pollution, even a little bit dirtier for no concrete reason. Research from the International Energy Agency found that one-fifth of global CO2 production comes from transportation and a full 45 percent of that figure produced by passenger vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that a single typical passenger vehicle already emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

I love cars, I really do. Even with the planet slowly sizzling and sweating like a hot dog on 7-11 rollers, I defend people who still run classic gas guzzlers and sports cars. Those vehicles aren’t just rolling works of art making the physical world a more interesting place, they’re also useful tools. They do something, whether it’s delighting folks at a car show, thrilling their owner with power and performance or transporting humans and goods. Making cars even dirtier while adding nothing feels like a betrayal of what makes cars great, or at least defensible in our warming world, in the first place.