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NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World. They May Be Warming the Planet, Too.

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A snapshot of the NFT 'Distance' by Chris Precht.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have an environmental footprint as mind-boggling as the gold-rush frenzy theyve whipped up.

Credit: Chris Precht

Digital artworks known as nonfungible tokens are selling for massive sums, but research indicates their creation may carry an enormous environmental cost.

NFTs are stamped with a unique string of code and stored on a blockchain, and they are created mainly on the Ethereum platform, via a method called proof of work.

To add an asset to the blockchain's master ledger, miners must competitively solve a cryptographic puzzle, their computers rapidly producing numbers in a contest of trial and error; the miner who gets the right answer first has their asset added to the blockchain.

According to estimates supported by independent researchers, the creation of an average NFT produces more than 200 kilograms of carbon emissions.

Susanne Köhler at Denmark's Aalborg University said the problem is exacerbated because solving the puzzles becomes more competitive and harder as interest in blockchain increases.

From The New York Times
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