NFTs?! WTF, WWF?

NFTs - a form of digital art - are destroying the environment. So why is the World Wildlife Fund making their own?

Josh Watson
28th February 2022
(Note: This is not actually one of WWF's available NFT range). Image: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons
Currently, a lot of money is being spent on Internet apes - as well as other PNGs of animals - in the form of NFTs. With prices in the range of 1 Ethereum, or $2,953.89, for the first NFT I found on OpenSeas, it's fair to say that there is a lot of money going around that could be going to a better cause. So who can really blame the World Wildlife Fund (AKA the WWF) for setting up their own set of NFTs to collect some of this revenue? Well, there are some issues.

When announced on February 2nd there was an ambient push back online. While NFTs have large popularity within a small circle of people,  the general public is very opposed to them. This alone is an issue for the charity. An organisation like the WWF relies on public support to complete its missions and damaging public relations in this way may make a future project more difficult. The WWF will now be tired of having created NFTs.

The production of Ethereum requires a greater amount of energy than Sweden consumes

One animal distinctly missing from the 13 endangered species was polar bears - unsurprising when you consider they must have been forgotten about when this plan was hatched. NFTs and the wider crypto-sphere require a large amount of energy to be mined, transferred and stored as all activities require a large amount of computing power. While WWF tried to cover this issue by using Polygon blockchain - designed around efficacy - to store their NFTs, these files would be bought in Ethereum, the production of which requires a greater amount of energy than Sweden consumes. It is clear to see that NFTs are antithetical to WWF's message.

The NFTs available on the WWF website. Image: https://www.wwf-nfa.com/en

There are also issues with where this money is coming from. With HMRC having seized their first NFT in a £1.4 million fraud this week, it is slowly starting to come to light how this much money is being passed around and why it's in a medium that is designed for governments to have difficulty to check. Does WWF want to be connected to possible fraud? Unlikely.

Even now that no new NFTs are being produced, they are still available to purchase second hand through a WWF website, which - due to the nature of NFTs - they will still profit from until the blockchain is broken. With the €254,940.00 raised from selling and reselling of these NFTs being the equivalent to 0.05% of their earnings in the 2021 financial year, it's the endangered animals that might be paying the real price for these JPEGs.

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