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WWF stumbles into the NFTs: cryptocurrencies still weigh too heavily on the environment

February 8, 2022
WWF stumbles into the NFTs: cryptocurrencies still weigh too heavily on the environment

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Some people have become rich with cryptocurrency and blockchain, while others have ended up stumbling over it. It happened to the British division of WWF. To raise funds, it launched a new virtual project, the Token of Nature. The "Non-fungible animals" are small animations with the effigy of eleven different endangered species, to be collected and made unique thanks to the system of non-fungible tokens (NFT).

Based on blockchain technology, the same that is at the root of cryptocurrencies, the NFT allows to give a digital data a certificate of authenticity, no matter if it is an image, a video, an animation or a contract. In the case of the WWF, these are rotating crystal cubes that have on each face, in addition to the logo of the environmental organization, the name of the species, a photo, the number of specimens still alive, the place of origin, the classification of endangered species. But the initiative was not liked at all, attracting much criticism and waves of tweets containing jokes and insults.

"When I saw those NTFs I thought they were joking at the WWF," commented Alex de Vries, an analyst in the Dutch central bank's force and blockchain expert who in the past has repeatedly lashed out at cryptocurrencies and the huge energy absorption it requires to produce and manage them. "WWF has launched a new initiative based on NFT minted on the Polygon platform," reads his commentary posted on Linkedin. "It uses "proof of stake" as a procedure, which is much more sustainable than "proof of work" (employed by Bitcoin among others, ed.).

However, WWF did not consider that Polygon still depends on the cryptocurrency Ethereum (proof of work) to function. As a result, it underestimated the carbon footprint of a Polygon transaction. Faced with a strong social media backlash, Wwf decided to discontinue its NFT process shortly after launching it." In fact, the Tokens of Nature can still be purchased on Opensea where they have collected 17.5 Ethereum for a total value of about 43 thousand euros. The animations dedicated to the giant panda, the Borneo elephant, the Java rhino and others, have been purchased by 326 people with a gain that is far below expectations. Above all, the operation, which in the intentions in addition to the funds intended to promote the cause of the protection of the animal world, has had the opposite effect. But the WWF insists: the association "firmly believes in NFT and blockchain" and therefore will continue to engage "in a responsible manner in fundraising for conservation. From Greenpeace on Twitter they commented sarcastically: "Yes, we are (also) on the blockchain. Stopping polluters by chaining ourselves to giant things and sometimes giant chains," with a photo of an activist tying herself to the anchor of a whaler.

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