Mozilla announced a pause in donations after co-founder Jamie Zawinski tweeted his opposition. Will other organizations follow and consider the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies?
When the Mozilla Foundation took to Twitter on New Year’s Eve to announce that it would start accepting cryptocurrency donations, it probably didn’t think of the potential return of one of its founders, but that’s what she got. In response, Mozilla said it was suspending cryptocurrency donations.
In his blog, Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski, author of the original tweet, said he was happy if he had played even a small role “to get them to reverse this terrible decision”. . Zawinski has long been critical of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, noting on his blog the negative aspects of Bitcoin as far back as 2013.
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“Anyone involved in cryptocurrencies in any way is either a scammer or a brand,” Zawinski told me. “It’s 100% a jerk. There’s no legitimacy,” he said.
Suffice to say, Zawinski has strong feelings about blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies and NFTs that use it. He’s not the only one feeling that sentiment either: Shortly after Zawinski’s tweet and Mozilla’s change of heart, Wikipedia editor GorillaWarfare opened a request for comment on Wikimedia’s meta-wiki calling on the organization to stop accepting cryptocurrency donations, citing Zawinski’s tweet and Mozilla’s reaction.
Zawinski read Wikipedia’s talk page on the discussion and says he hopes it indicates the start of a trend. “I’m actually a bit surprised (and delighted) that the conversation seemed to be going in the anti-cryptocurrency direction. Good for them,” Zawinski said.
Why are people crazy about cryptocurrency donations?
Mozilla’s original tweet mentioned three forms of cryptocurrency: the two major players, Bitcoin and Ethereum, and Dogecoin, all of which use a system called proof-of-work (PoW) in order to add input to their respective blockchains. This is where we find the first big sticking point: what Zawinski describes as “planet incinerating” levels of energy use.
The proof-of-work problem has been known for some time, as has the ever-increasing carbon footprint of the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain, the cause of which is the growing energy needs of their PoW networks.
As of this writing, a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain consumes the same amount of energy as an average US household over a period of 77.8 days, or about two and a half months. Ethereum, while nowhere near as large, still consumes the same amount of energy that a US household consumes in eight days.
The Ethereum network originally proposed to move from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake (PoS), an alternative system whereby owners of a currency stake their own assets in order to act as validators of the blockchain. The move has been delayed more than once, with the Ethereum Foundation now expecting a change in mid-2022. It remains to be seen if the deadline is met or if Zawinski is correct in his assessment of Ethereum’s plan: “Fox promises a henhouse upgrade very soon now.”
Is the tide turning for cryptocurrency?
There has been a global love affair with cryptocurrency over the past few years, and arguably it finally entered the zeitgeist in 2021 with the rise in popularity of NFTs.
As the concept of digital property extends beyond JPGs and into other industries like games and entertainment, it is important to assess whether the benefits of the growth of these types of technologies outweigh their potential disadvantages. .
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Mozilla is not the first organization to address concerns about the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the company will stop accepting bitcoin in May 2021, though he said it’s likely Teslas bitcoin purchases will return if the bitcoin network shows more work towards the future. use of renewable energies. Environmental charity Greenpeace has announced that it will also stop accepting cryptocurrency donations in May 2021, citing its energy consumption as unsustainable in the face of climate change.
As PoW-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to grow, so will their energy needs. 2021 has made the public aware of both the potential and the cost of cryptocurrencies, but we are still only in the early days. Organizations like Mozilla and Tesla may be the ones setting the near-term agenda, but don’t expect governments to sit idly by for long.