Following a three-month debate in which the environmental effect of bitcoin and other digital currencies was a significant discussion topic, Wikimedia, the non-profit foundation behind Wikipedia, has decided to cease accepting crypto payments and donations.
Accepting donations in digital currencies including popular options like BTC and ETH signals the endorsement of digital coins and a clear push for more mainstream adoption. These also have a reputation for being “inherently predatory” as investments. As such, they do not align with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability, according to a proposal from contributor Molly White.
Crypto miners have been accused of polluting the environment by utilizing massive quantities of computer power to confirm transactions. Molly White included this in the proposal. The foundation singled out BTC and ETH for their high energy requirements, while also pointing out that there are alternative “greener” cryptocurrencies. However, these are less extensively used even for payments or donations to the foundation.
The decision was reached via a vote. Nearly three-quarters of the fewer than 400 people who voted, leaned in favor of no longer accepting BTC. This is definitely a big deal for the crypto community as proponents have been working hard to increase adoption. However, all hope is not lost it seems. Wikimedia has kept the possibility of restarting crypto acceptance on the table. For now, it will continue to watch the situation.
Can crypto go green?
The energy consumed by computers to issue new digital tokens via a process known as “proof of work” accounts for a large part of crypto’s environmental effect. That is simply because it requires a lot of computing power. According to some estimations, the server farms that compete to produce new Bitcoins consume as much power as a small nation every year.
A greener crypto future most likely implies a more regulated one. Two types of legislative measures for crypto regulation are possible. The first kind would need greater openness on the carbon costs of operating a cryptocurrency mining farm. The second would involve regulators imposing some form of carbon tax. Already, these kinds of rules are being pushed by some notable environmental and economic justice organizations.
Other options such as the adoption of renewable energy at the mining farms have also been fronted. Still, we cannot dismiss the fact that crypto is growing at an incredibly fast pace and government regulatory measures often take time to create and implement. It will very certainly fall to the industry to embrace sustainability with the same zeal that it has innovated.