[NetBehaviour] The Unreasonable Ecological Cost of #CryptoArt

Alan Sondheim sondheim at gmail.com
Fri Jan 22 16:48:15 CET 2021

Hi, a few questions. I've been interested in blockchain but to be honest
have been appalled by its energy use as well; that doesn't seem to me to be
a troll, but an honest reaction. When you say "realise both money and
governance at a global scale, independent of states and corporations" -
isn't blockchain itself becoming a state and corporation in a sense? And
shouldn't in fact the environmental impact be paramount?
If in the future there will be a "world of clean, limitless, renewable
energy" - there seems to be three main sources, all of which are highly
corporate - wind (which is environmentally problematic for the bid
population); fusion (which I'm hopeful for but will require enormous
international cooperation and seems to be corporate as well, given the
enormous technological hurdles) and solar (which requires, at least in the
U.S. vast tracts of land for the conversion apparatus). I'm not sure how
this will play out - certainly clean, limitless, and renewable are
possible, but there are enormous costs involved. My own vision of
blockchain, definitely from the outside, is that it's problematic in many
ways, and not democratic, that it's great for money laundering as well as
art, and that our concerns should be focussed on that (I understand that
London at this point is the center of off-shore banking, no longer Geneve,
but I might have my stats wrong).

It seems to me that, to use your term which I think is excellent, the
future will increasingly be "extractive capitalism." We're also reaching
the point of the carrying capacity of the planet in terms of resource use
and population growth; there's an article by Paul Ehrlich and others on
this -

Underestimating the Challenges of
Avoiding a Ghastly Future
Corey J. A. Bradshaw1,2*, Paul R. Ehrlich3*, Andrew Beattie4, Gerardo
Ceballos 5,
Eileen Crist 6, Joan Diamond7, Rodolfo Dirzo3, Anne H. Ehrlich3, John
Mary Ellen Harte9, Graham Pyke4, Peter H. Raven10, William J. Ripple11,
Frédérik Saltré1,2,
Christine Turnbull 4, Mathis Wackernagel 12 and Daniel T. Blumstein13,14* -
which is available online and was originally published in Frontiers in
Conservation Science.

(I didn't attach it, because I'm not sure it would go through to

Best, Alan

On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 6:16 AM Ruth Catlow via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> re: http://cryptoart.wtf
> I mean... It's a great troll but it's not good enough!
> The meme of blockchain's outrageous energy use is a barrier to more
> diverse people entering the development space.
> Blockchain technologies are important because species collapse and climate
> emergency is an effect of the global political economy. Blockchains tech
> like cryptocurrencies, tokens, and smart contracts are the only tools we
> have (as yet) to organise directly p-2-p at a planetary scale.They are
> still new but they offer a way to imagine and realise both money and
> governance at a global scale, independent of states and corporations.
> The debate about blockchain's environmental impact usually focuses around
> its high energy use.
> [EXPLAINER: Blockchains' level of energy use are due to the consensus
> mechanisms (CMs) they use to verify transactions, and to "mine" currency.
> The amount of electricity used varies according to the CM. The two dominant
> CMs are Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS)
> Bitcoin uses PoW and infamously consumes the same amount of electricity as
> 159 countries. Ethereum (the platform for programmable money - and
> therefore the focus of a lot of work on new forms of governance) is moving
> to Eth2 a PoS system which uses far less energy. But this is still 2 years
> off.]
> Questions about the environmental impact of blockchain are important and
> difficult to answer.  It's right that we assess the impact of Blockchains
> but we need better ways to compare all emerging digital infrastructure
> ecosystems - including other financial techs, IoT, ML AI, 5G.
> A focus on reducing energy use is not enough. As @alsodanlowe put it  "It
> would be crazy to ban or dissuade colleagues from participating in an
> effort to decentralize money away from the forces that create the priority
> for fossil fuels (much of it built on debt) just because those forces
> exist. PoW is agnostic. Banks and existing oligarchy is not."
> https://twitter.com/alsodanlowe/status/1317444999361957891
> Blockchain is a future technology. It is built for use in a world of
> clean, limitless, renewable energy.
> Efforts need to focus here...and on the political economies and the
> cultural adoption patterns that they can support and grow beyond
> accumulative self-interest and extractive capitalism if we are avoid
> accelerating climate collapse.
> This morning I retweeted this from Sarah Friend "If I hadn't spent the
> past five years working in crypto, I'd probably be moralizing about it too,
> and this is perhaps part of why I am so profoundly annoyed by its
> superficial detractors - my shadow selves, who know so much less than me
> and are so much more sure they're right"
> https://twitter.com/isthisanart_/status/1352288565850492928
> There's so much more to  say about all of this. Especially about the role
> that art has to play.
> Soon!!!!
> On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 9:35 AM Annie Abrahams via NetBehaviour <
> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>> The website http://cryptoart.wtf pulls in random blockchain-based
>> CryptoArt from the web, and estimates the ecological impact of each work
>> in terms of energy consumption (kWh), and greenhouse gases released
>> (KgCO2) as a result of blockchain-based transactions relating to the work.
>> https://memoakten.medium.com/the-unreasonable-ecological-cost-of-cryptoart-2221d3eb2053
>> _______________________________________________
>> NetBehaviour mailing list
>> NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
>> https://lists.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
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> advance
> *Furtherfield *disrupts and democratises art and technology through exhibitions,
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