NFTs Exploit Art and Threaten the Environment

Lecya Santiago, Op-Ed Editor

Owning an NFT, short for “non-fungible token,” has become a symbol of wealth due to the rise of cryptocurrency popularity. The video “Nyan Cat” with over 190 million views is now an NFT. Though the tokens aren’t worth all the hype, NFT’s actively harm the planet with their carbon footprint. Owning an NFT is dangerous, and the government should discontinue the practice as quickly as possible.

What exactly does “non-fungible token” mean? Essentially, non-fungible means the item you’re buying is rare and cannot be replicated whatsoever. Think of it as a rare holographic Pokemon card. NFT’s are a part of Ethereum, a cryptocurrency supporter like Dogecoin. The business allows any person to own a holographic Pokemon card. The downside is that NFT’s acknowledge you own a specific pokemon card, but anyone could still buy it and save it without knowing which person is the ultimate owner.  

Original non-fungible token Nyan Cat. Cartoon by Vy Nguyen.

This new era of NFT has become a way to save and collect fine art for wealthy people, but they fail to acknowledge the carbon footprint left behind, which is detrimental to the environment. Mining for bitcoin uses as much energy as a person’s electricity bill for two months. The average energy used by making one transaction is about one month of electricity for a four-person household. With the world already in a climate crisis, it’s irresponsible to continue buying, owning and promoting NFT’s when doing so contributes to the active living of billions of people but only exists to serve the direct consumer. 

To track art owners and keep a record of incredible pieces, NFT’s are a great way to show appreciation for where creative work originates. As the impact of environmental emissions increases, which furthers pollution and carbon footprints, the number of people who indulge in these tokens increases as well. On November 5, 2021, Congress passed the 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which included that NFT owners must disclose their ownership in their tax forms. The tokens are used to stay anonymous, which can encourage money laundering as well. Many buyers were discouraged from buying NFT’s due to this bill.

While the new bill is a step forward, it’s important to note that these types of currencies are increasing daily. By holding NFT’s, one should take ownership for their (objectively more significant) environmental impact as everyone else.