Climate Neutral Cardano is an alliance of Cardano stake pools and other parties who are passionate about both Cardano and mitigating the effects of climate change. The list of member stake pools is at the bottom of this article. This group is participating in a number of important projects, including the Cardano Forest and a Catalyst funded project that will calculate Cardano’s carbon footprint. This is important because a number of entities will no longer work with cryptocurrency because of their belief that high energy consumption makes it harmful to the planet. CNC’s project The Cardano Carbon Footprint will not only provide the calculations, it will also have them verified by an independent third party.
With Veritree at capacity and the carbon calculations well under way, the group has committed to another important project – one that will help the environment and change lives half a world away. CNC Ala (ala means forest in Malagasy) this project will help both the climate and people in a pretty desperate situation in Madagascar. Before we get into the actual project, here is a bit about Madagascar and why it’s so important from a global conservation aspect.
Madagascar is an island nation that lies off the east coast of Africa. There are more unique animal species living in Madagascar than on the entire African continent. Eighty percent of its species can be found nowhere else on earth. Because of this high level of diversity, deforestation can have an even more consequential impact than in other places. Unfortunately, a high percentage of the human population lives in abject poverty and suffers from food insecurity. People who are hungry and desperate generally resort to slash and burn agriculture, illegal fishing and poaching of protected animals. This creates a vicious cycle of low crop yields, negative climate impact and soil degradation.
CNC Cardano has found a way to help. They are partnering with Tetikasa Ala, an NGO that is working on reforestation and permaculture in central Madagascar. Their operation has been underway for over a year and has also received support from the French government.
The group understands that to impact lasting positive change, the local population must benefit from the program. Therefore, the intent is to create a program that has social and educational components in addition to planting. They intend to empower the community through education of sustainable agriculture techniques. This isn’t merely about planting trees. This project is about agriculture that helps the planet and the people of Madagascar. The planting will include trees, but also other fruit and vegetable plants that will allow locals to benefit fairly quickly. Specifically, they intend to plant 100,000 fruit trees and vegetables like Bananas, papayas, orange trees, and tomatoes. Additionally, through strategic reforestation they can increase shade and food production, increase carbon sequestration, and multi-use permaculture forestry practices. Longer term goals include reversing land degradation, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity. As well as mitigating the long-term effects of climate change induced drought.
If saving the planet isn’t of interest to you, please consider that this project, if successful, is a proof-of-concept that blockchain technologies can generate revenue to help communities in developing countries and protect our environment. Concerns about cryptocurrency energy usage have resulted in negative press. This project is a demonstrable way to demonstrate that the Cardano community is deeply committed to helping projects like this that mitigate climate change and help the local population. Also projects like this open the discussion about crypto currency and energy consumption. It is another opportunity to explain that Cardano does not require the same amount of energy to operate as Bitcoin.
The Climate Neutral Cardano participating stake pools have committed to donating 20% of revenue to this project for the next six months. You can support this project by delegating to any participating stake pools which can be found here.
As you can see this is a large scale project. The goal is to raise a minimum of 300,000 USD in six months, including the SPO donations. To make that happen, the Climate Neutral Cardano Alliance is joining forces with Cardano Proxies, Earth Natives, Madas Lemurs and Yummi Universe. In return for staking to one of the CNC pools, you will receive CNC tokens, which can be used for:
Free circulation, trading and holding over time
Redeem for bespoke project specific art NFTs, created by Cardano Proxies and Yummi Universe as well as NFTs donated to the project by Earth Natives and MADA’s Lemur
Additional future token utility to be added over time
You can also receive the token in return for direct donations.
A Catalyst Fund7 proposal that has been funded and is happening now
Blockchains use energy and have a carbon footprint. Cardano is a low energy consuming blockchain, due to its Proof of Stake protocol. It uses about 10.000x less energy per transaction than Bitcoin. (Ref) However, it still uses energy and a lot of other resources that cause carbon emissions.
However, while we were working on these projects, we noticed how important it is to know and how difficult it is to determine the Cardano Carbon Footprint.
Therefore, we have been applying for funding through the Cardano Catalyst Fund 7 in order to solve this question and develop a first independently verified Cardano Carbon Footprint Methodology with expert help.
The Cardano Carbon Footprint Proposal, Catalyst Fund 7
Problem statement :
We want to make Cardano carbon neutral and climate positive. If we know Cardano’s carbon footprint, we can make the shift to positive.
Describe your solution to the problem
A Cardano greenhouse gas accounting standard verified by independent specialists, the Cardano Foundation, SPOs and delegators.
We are climate scientists, environmental and computer engineers who run several stake pools and help organise ClimateNeutralCardano.org
Introduction and impact
Blockchain has a chance to replace many massively wasteful financial processes with a decentralised, permissionless and democratic infrastructure for digital money, exchange and smart contracts. This is driving phenomenal growth, and that growth creates both a danger and an opportunity. The danger is that proof-of-work mining has huge energy costs and a negative climate impact. The opportunity is that a proof-of-stake chain with built-in community-controlled treasury and cheap smart contracts can actually swing the balance the other way and make the technology climate positive. We think Cardano is positioned to make this shift; this project will show how to take the next step in the process.
In addition to the positive environmental impact the project will draw the significant numbers of people who are interested in the environment towards Cardano. By showing exactly how much environmental cost Cardano has, and how it is moving towards being climate positive, we will attract a new layer of people to our ecosystem.
All human activities have an impact on the climate. A few of them are beneficial: tending forests, planting trees, sustaining natural ecosystems. To make Cardano climate positive we must first measure its negative impacts (the cost of running stake pool servers, or of heating the house of a plutus developer, for example). Then when we invest in projects that have positive impacts we will be able to build a transparent strategy to get us to zero carbon and beyond. When the balance swings beyond neutral then we’re beginning to contribute to a safer future for us, our children and the whole Cardano Community.
While doing the initial carbon calculations we have learned that there is no methodology or clear scope to determine the impact of Cardano’s decentralised ecosystem. It is unclear which institutions need to be included, or how much of their activities are dedicated to Cardano. How much of the personal carbon footprint of a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) should be associated to Cardano, for example? How do we verify the real contribution of carbon offsetting projects? (Just counting the number of trees we plant is misleading: it needs to be the right trees, in the right place, involving the right people for the right reasons, or else carbon drawdown may not happen or may even go into reverse!)
Action Plan and Outcomes
We have commissioned ‘My Carbon Zero’ (www.mycarbonzero.org), a project of The Pond Foundation (www.thepondfoundation.org), as an independent expert partner organisation that can help us answer these questions. Together we will determine a solid methodology of carbon accounting for our community which is transparent and can be used continuously while Cardano grows. We will work to collect and estimate the required information from our community and create a live model of our impact.
A parametric model of Cardano’s climate impact. For example, the number of Cardano stake pools varies over time (partly due to configuration choices such as the saturation point of a pool). The amount of computation that those pools need to perform when minting new blocks on the chain also varies, and will increase over time due to the impact of smart contracts and Plutus on-chain programming. Therefore our model of the impact of the ecosystem as a whole has to include both parameters that can be adjusted as the story unfolds, and the ability to dynamically regenerate the impact figures in order to model alternate futures and to describe the current state at any particular point in time.
Community-specific data harvesting and analytics tools. Different actors in the Cardano ecosystem make impacts in different ways: think of the difference between IO Group or Emurgo and a single SPO, for example. We need specific mechanisms for entering and estimating impact data and for analysing diverse data sources (some of which will be precise and reliable but others of which will be partial and unreliable and will need to be estimated via sampling). These tools need to be able to continuously feed updates into the model as the ecosystem evolves.
Model visualisation and promotion. When we have the live data streaming into our impact model, we will provide visualisations and summaries of the data. We will then promote the data throughout our community (using our links with key actors such as the Cardano Foundation, Veritree, individual SPOs and SPO groupings). In each case we will produce guide material for the community to show how each element can achieve carbon neutrality and then move beyond neutrality into the climate positive blockchain space that we hope Cardano can come to occupy.
KPIs and audit:
What will success look like? How will we measure progress? The ultimate prize is the rise of climate positive blockchain technology in all its forms, and an irreversible shift away from both wasteful proof-of-work and wasteful Big Finance. Key indicators for the (small, initial) steps of this project will be:
Connection. A running estimate of our engagement with all the Cardano ecosystems categories of actors.
Scope. Summary of the coverage of the impact model across the different types of impact that we’re making, and across the different commonly accepted impact scopes as used by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (https://ghgprotocol.org/).
Trend. Is Cardano’s climate impact rising or falling? To what extent are compensation projects (e.g. tree planting) contributing verifiable impact reduction? How far have we got to go and how fast are we getting there?
(For scheduling specifics see next section; public launch will be 6 months from start.)
Transparency and audit: we work best i nthe open, and all output from the project will be pushed to a public GitLab repository, and all work will be conducted in the open with public backlog/sprint/done lists on GitLab boards. Our carbon accounting partner and our outcomes will both support industry standard carbon accounting audit. Our team covers all the software engineering (20 years open source experience), cardano community and carbon accounting skills we need.
Cardano’s social mission makes it the ideal vehicle to combine climate action with blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. This project will spread that message and will initiate development of the toolbox that climate NGOs, SPOs and the Cardano Foundation will use to tip the balance from negative, through neutral and into positive.
Beyond this, we believe that Cardano is making a step towards a world where new mechanisms of decentralised cooperation and consensus can start to replace the cheap-at-all-costs and business-as-usual structures that are degrading the world we live in. There’s a lot to play for! Join us?
We will use an agile development approach, iterating over four activities:
Stakeholder network building. We already support a network of key stakeholders in Cardano community climate impact accounting, including SPOs, the Cardano Foundation and stake pool delegators. Activity 1. will extend this network and reinforce its interconnections, giving the project live input from the community on impacts and feeding back and trialling project results in practice.
Carbon accounting method adaption. With our specialist partner we will adapt established accounting methods to the new context of decentralised and permissionless blockchain technology. We will also incorporate the surveys of other blockchain accounting activities to ensure comparability between Cardano and other leading chains.
Live data modelling and analytics. For each key actor category (e.g. SPO, Foundation, core developers like IOG or Emurgo, Plutus developers and startups, ₳DA delegators, the Catalyst community) we will provide a live impact modelling capability, with dynamic results aggregation and data analytics.
Cardano footprint disemination. Publication, advocacy etc.: as well as the headline figures on footprinting (which we expect to give a good indication of both how much Cardano’s staking wins over yesterday’s proof of work mining and how a decentralised financial infrastructure can win over today’s banking) there will be breakdowns of the impact by ecosystem actor categories, and we will promote the model and to each of these categories. We will also provide guidance for actor-specific remediation based on the model.
We plan for between 4 and 6 iterations over the project lifetime (depending on the speed with which we collect the data we need and allowing for unexpected obstacles and risk management). We aim to publish results continuously and make major milestone deliveries every 3 months. We will complete all the main milestones within a 6 month period. By 12 months we should have a self-sustaining footprinting culture in place within the community, and be well on the way to a carbon positive blockchain!
The proposal is submitted as a joint project of pools of the Climate Neutral Cardano Stakepool Operator group (https://climateneutralcardano.org). The applicants are Stefan Rehfus, environmental engineer and SPO of CO2POOL, and Dr. Christian Unger (environmental scientist) and Prof. Hamish Cunningham (computer scientist and software engineer), both SPOs of SHIFT Pool. We are committed to a climate neutral Cardano Blockchain and have been collaborating with the Cardano Foundation and Veritree on the project of the Cardano Forest to plant one million trees (https://ito.veritree.com/).
The budget breakdown mirrors the action plan. Our costs cover three activity streams:
Modelling. Our professional impact assessment partner requires resourcing to adapt climate accounting methods to Cardano and to help us codify the method in a live-update model.
Harvesting. We require resources to reinforce and extend our existing networks within the community and set up live streams of both hard and soft data sources.
Promotion. Lastly we require resources to feed the model and visualisations back to the community, and to assess the results in order to feed back into the next development iteration.
We have estimated the costs of these three activity streams (essentially labour time of the scientists, engineers and modellers in the project team) based on what we believe to be realistic for a project of this type. Financial details available in the proposal on Ideascale.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Cardano is focused on social, economic and environmental issues and this proposal specifically tries to address two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy
SDG 13: Climate Action
Knowing the Cardano Carbon Footprint will better identify our impacts and enable the appropriate climate actions. This will also encourage the use of clean renewable energy and spread awareness with blockchain users around the world.
Tabletop gaming and the physical collectible market is a prime target for integration with Cardano. This is an untapped market for Cardano and blockchain in general. We at Frostlore Games are taking on the challenge with our first card game called Captivate: Cardano Edition!
Captivate: Cardano Edition is a fast-paced tabletop card game of strategy, skill, and memory for 2–4 players. Flip over cards and capture them to score points, but watch out — your opponents have plans of their own! Featuring iconic characters from Cardano pop culture, like the “King of the Rats” himself. Combine themes or multiple decks for exciting battles, and to increase the number of players to 5+
Captivate is quick to learn even for a large group, but difficult to master. There are many features to keep you and your friends playing over and over again — who will come out on top?
To learn more about the Captivate: Cardano Edition gameplay, feel free to check out our website: frostloregames.com/games
Watch us in the news:
Captivate: Cardano Edition has been so far featured on two great Cardano YouTube channels:
From the frozen north of Canada, the Frostlore Games team is crafting games with theme and story. We are the same dynamic duo that have brought you GAIA Stake Pool, Brian and Lisa Lee.
With 7 years of entertainment industry experience and 15 years of experience with computers & programming, Brian focuses on game art & design. Lisa focuses on game testing, promotion, and providing critical feedback.
We’ve got lots planned for the future to further integrate tabletop gaming and Cardano. You can be a part of making this awesome future for gaming to happen, and get rewarded at the same time!
The biggest way to help right now would be to vote for our proposal in Project Catalyst Fund7 in the “Gamers On-Chained” category, called “Connecting Tabletop Games & Cardano”. If our proposal is successfully funded, then we can manufacture the game and get Captivate into the hands of awesome gamers like you. Plus you get rewarded in ADA for every vote you cast!
$1,040,000 in ADA is to be distributed to all participating voting power (relative to individual ADA holdings).
To be eligible to vote, you needed to have the latest version of the Catalyst Voting app (by IOHK) on your mobile device, and needed to have registered to vote before the snapshot on 06/Jan/2022, 11:00 UTCwith a minimum balance of 500 ADA.
Voting ends on 3/Feb/2022, 11:00 UTC, so be sure to get your voting done before this deadline!
Another way to support our project is to stake your ADA with our stake pool GAIA. Any delegator who is staking at least 10 ADA or more will have access to monthly digital captivate FT card rewards. Rewards are distributed the 1st week of every month for the previous month of staking, so make sure to stay staking!
A full set of 52 Captivate: Cardano Edition FT cards can be redeemed for a premium printed version of the game with special foiling and a limited supply of 1,000 decks (not available for retail). The only way to get them is to redeem these special Captivate: Cardano Edition FT cards.
We are currently manually airdropping these rewards to all delegators, but will be moving to Dripdropz in the near future. GAIA delegators can already claim 200,000 $HI Hosky Inu tokens per ADA staked on Dripropz every epoch, so we want to expand on these rewards.
This game can change the world!
Not only will Captivate: Cardano Edition introduce more gamers and newcomers to the Cardano ecosystem, but Frostlore Games is committed to changing our world for the better with every copy sold.
We are looking to create our game products in a manner that is more sustainable than what has been available in the tabletop game industry in the past by using ideally all of these sustainable methods in our product design:
Paper booster packs.
Recyclable or biodegradable wrap.
Recycled paper for packaging & cardstock wherever possible.
A portion of sales will be donated to reforestation and ocean cleanup projects.
By doing our part, we are making a positive change for the world. We can set an example for other tabletop game projects, and hopefully they will adopt these same practices.
As our stake pool GAIA is a part of the the Climate Neutral Cardano group, we’ve already collaborated with Veritree and the Cardano Foundation to help make the Cardano Forest project a reality. Veritree would be a great partner for our reforestation donations, so ideally we will continue to work with them to realize our goals with Captivate.
Can I get a sneak peek at the next cards?
Sure thing! We are working on the card art right now for the next groups of cards, but we can show you the frames for cards 9–12. Can you guess which Cardano SPO will be featured as “The Snake”?
Hello! I want to say many things, but the one closest to my heart is that we need a revolution to save us from climate change! Revolutions come in many shapes and sizes, and the blockchain revolution until now has mostly been about fixing the financial system. That’s part of the promise of Cardano, and I honour that mission. But I also believe that there’s a bigger prize within our grasp, which is to revolutionise the democracy of my country, and others like it. We are lucky enough to have a fragment of political democracy, still much better than nothing, but really not what it claims to be. When we look at Catalyst, and the energy and engagement that it has generated amongst tens of thousands of people, we start to see how real democracy can work. And if you believe in people, then that’s a prize bigger than any other.
Anyhow, whether we agree on that or not, we can probably all agree about one thing: we’re in a mess. Forest fires, floods, zoonotic diseases: if you’re not worried, you haven’t been paying attention. We might even start to feel that we’re up a pretty smelly small stream and have neglected to pack the full complement of propulsion devices.
It may be harder to agree how we got into this mess (“I thought you were bringing the paddle!”), and what to do about it (“I’m not swimming in that!”), but one thing we might agree on is that we’re going to need a different way to organise money, and wealth, and finance. I believe that the Cardano blockchain is probably our best bet to replace our broken financial system; this post tries to explain why.
Austerity, Assets and Printing Money
I went for a ride around Blackburn Meadows nature reserve yesterday, which was created on part of an old sewage processing plant in the Don Valley between Sheffield and Rotherham some twenty years ago. There was a little money available for this type of project around the turn of the millennium, and Sheffield City Council spent around £25k on fencing, a bit of landscaping and a few benches. Now the site is of national significance for nesting birds, and contributes a much needed green space in what is otherwise a very industrial (and often polluted) landscape. For a metropolitan area of around 1.5 million people, that sort of spending is miniscule — but riding around the reserve it was clear that the money to maintain it has not been available for years (probably since 2008 and the subsequent “austerity” programme that justified the latest round of cuts in public services [Varoufakis 2021]).
We have money to spend on banks. We don’t have money for the health service, or social care, or education. The various “quantitative easing” (QE) programmes, where central banks buy securities from Big Finance at above their market price, work to pour money into the pockets of wealthy organisations. This ran to some £1 trillion in the immediate aftermath of 2008, and over the 18 months since covid started the big four central banks spent nearly $10 trillion more [Atlantic Council 2021] by buying bonds. That’s around £10 million per minute being paid to the hedge funds and investment banks and billionaires (counting only four countries). The result was massive asset inflation:
What QE did do was fuel a new speculative bubble in financial assets, with stock and bond markets hitting ever new heights. As a result, the very rich who own most of these assets became much richer (and inequality of income and wealth has risen even further). And the very large companies, the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) in the US, became flush with cash and doubled-up on borrowing even more at near zero rates so that they could buy up their own shares and drive up the stock price, hand out big dividends to shareholders and use funds to buy up even more companies. [Michael Roberts, 2017]
By 2021 this meant that, for example:
The richest 1% of US households now own 53% of all equities and mutual funds held by American households. The richest 10% own 87%! Indeed, as another study shows, the super-rich 1% in the globe have increased their wealth hugely during the pandemic, particularly in places where households have suffered most from the impact of the pandemic, like Russia, Sweden, Brazil, India and the US. [Michael Roberts, 2021, reporting the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report]
So: on the one hand we’ve had austerity, “we can’t spend anything!”, and on the other quantitative easing has been the biggest cash giveaway in human history. Perhaps not all is quite what it seems? Perhaps austerity was really about opening up health and education to private companies? Perhaps QE is about keeping the asset bubble that blew up in 2008 from popping again? Is this what humanity needs from a finance system, or is this how the 1% (or the 0.1%) keep things rolling along in the way that suits them?!
Business as usual is destroying our climate, and action for change is often met with insincerity and political corruption:
“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” [Greta Thunberg] said in a speech to the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.” [Greta Thunberg, 2021]
What to do?
Build the Road as we Travel
There are two pieces of good news: first, the way that digital fabrication, or “maker tech”, is spreading, and second the possibility of building new social structures using the decentralised consensus mechanisms that are starting to emerge from the blockchain. If we bring these two together I think they have the potential to show us a way forward.
A few years after I started learning about computing, development of the transfer protocol that lead to the world wide web started, and by the time I’d reached my first decade in the field there was such a thing as a web browser, and the transformation of information sharing from an activity involving dead trees to one requiring only the merest caress of a touchscreen was underway. Fast forward a couple of decades and a parallel transformation began, but this time in the world of atoms instead of bits. Digital fabrication has given us the ability to share, modify and rebuild almost anything, in the same way we can publish anything.
What if we can democratise the creation and recreation of the physical world? What if we can devolve manufacturing to individuals and communities?
If the last 20 years were about the web, then the next 20 will be about making. Why? Ubiquitous connectivity and decentralised production in the virtual world have made revolutions in creating, sharing and consuming on-line. Now the same changes are starting in the world of manufacturing, and the consequences are likely to be massive.
Remember how hard it used to be to publish? Photocopiers spawned a whole generation of fliers and fanzines, but the big-time of global distribution used to be a very closed world. When we publish we share, and the web has let us share as never before — but, until recently, we’ve mostly used the web to share information (in the form of bit streams of one sort or another). The next revolutionary wave of technology brings the ability to share into the physical world — it brings the information revolution from bits to atoms. And as Chris Anderson writes in his Makers, the physical world dwarfs the virtual. (The title and the theme echo Cory Doctorow‘s Makers; read them both!) There’s perhaps an 80-20 ratio between economic activity devoted to atoms in comparison to bits.
Capitalism drives innovation, which brings with it continual waves of technological revolution. (The unfortunate thing, of course, is that it doesn’t do this in service of human need, but as part of the competition for corporate profit — hence our inability to stop the degradation of our environment, or the banker-oriented response to the economic crisis, or the continual wars over oil in the Middle east. This isn’t about bad people, or even bad ideas — it is the central logic of the system that revolves around competition between vast corporations, and everything else is secondary. See Joel Bakan‘s The Coporation for a good description of how this works.) Anderson’s book quotes Cory Doctorow saying that increasingly “the money on the table is like krill” — many many tiny chunks of nutrition that suit a new type of sieve, smaller and more distributed (a “long tail”). Both authors imagine the changes that will take place when the means of production become minituarised, localised, and — in a sense — democratised. At least under some circumstances the small and the open and the fast moving can sneak beneath the corporate radar long enough to become viable alternatives — like my friends at Pimoroni in Sheffield, for example, who sold tens of thousands of locally-made boxes for the Raspberry Pi.
The new methods of manufacturing (CAD-CAM designs driving CNC routers, 3D printing, laser cutting and the like), and the new culture of open source and dynamic virtual organisations can start to challenge corporate dominance, at least around the edges. China’s explosive growth and its willingness to ignore the west’s definition of “intellectual property” helps too (though often bringing with it the labour relations of the sweatshop).
Anderson talks of a “future where the Maker Movement is more about self-sufficiency… than it is about building businesses…”. This, he says, is “closer to the original ideas of the Homebrew Computing Club or the Whole Earth Catalogue. The idea, then, was not to create big companies, but rather to free ourselves from big companies” (pp. 225-226).
We can also make a link into the argument for localist economics made by organisations like the Transition Network (e.g. in Rob Hopkins‘ books) — peak oil, social instability and environmental crisis all point to the local and the small scale as a key source of sustainability and resilience. The more stuff we can manufacture within short distances of where we live, the safer we are (not to mention the saved carbon in long-distance transport).
Welcome to the future — perhaps it will be of our own making.
There’s an organisation in the North of Spain called Mondragon, which used innovative cooperation models to build a company with €10 billion revenue, and became an “outstanding example of building a cooperative social system within the context of a now global market economy”. We can use Mondragon and other coops to show how “freedom and community are fundamentally interdependent and indivisible” [We Build the Road as We Travel, Roy Morrison 1997], and, some 70 years on from when it was founded, find a model for combining blockchain with democratic and community control. Which is where Cardano comes in…
Cardano is a 3rd generation blockchain that hosts one of the biggest cryptocurrencies (ADA, or ₳). It doesn’t waste lots of power (like Bitcoin) as it uses staking (instead of mining), so it isn’t driving carbon emissions like the previous generations of the technology. Even better, Cardano has an explicitly social mission, and it is building infrastructure around the blockchain that can form the bones of an entire financial (and cooperative) system.
Writing in The Register about the disadvantages of the new centralisation of the internet that has arisen from Big Tech in recent years, Bruce Davie contrasts the baked in decentralisation of the original design with the increasingly brittle outgrowth of social media and search monopolies [Davie 2021]. He refers to Chris Dixon, who contends that
there is a growing movement — emerging from the blockchain and cryptocurrency world — to build new internet services that combine the power of modern, centralized services with the community-led ethos of the original internet [Dixon, 2021]
Dixon also provides a nice definition of blockchains that, unusually, incorporates their (necessarily) active computational dimension:
Blockchains are networks of physical computers that work together in concert to form a single virtual computer. The benefit is that, unlike a traditional computer, a blockchain computer can offer strong trust guarantees, rooted in the mathematical and game-theoretic properties of the system… This means that the control of a blockchain computer can be placed in the hands of a community. [Dixon, 2021]
(Our SHiFT stake pool provides several of the few thousand servers that currently run Cardano. Our community doesn’t need to trust a single organisation like IOG, or a small set of independents running massive mining operations like Bitcoin: the infrastructure is spread worldwide and guaranteed by the mechanics of the chain.)
Further, if we reach a stage where cloud services are guaranteed by community consensus audited via the blockchain then
blockchain and cryptocurrencies can do for cloud-based services what open source did for software. It took twenty years for open source software to supplant proprietary software, and it could take just as long for open services to supplant proprietary services. But the benefits of such a shift will be immense. Instead of placing our trust in corporations, we can place our trust in community-owned and -operated software, transforming the internet’s governing principle from “don’t be evil” back to “can’t be evil”. [Dixon, 2021]
The mechanism that Nakamoto made famous in Bitcoin rests upon the concept of decentralised consensus: a form of truth grounding that can work reliably in adversarial environments. This mechanism allows cryptocurrencies to deal with the double spending problem, for example, but its applications range far beyond those currencies, including:
Digital identity. The success of TCP/IP, the foundational Internet protocols, has been largely due to their decentralised operation. The advent of a much more centralised net that relies on the FAANG crew is not proving to be a step forward. For example, yesterday an accidental (or over-automated) configuration change at Facebook caused their Border Gateway Protocol routes to disappear, and for the next 5 or 6 hours there was no Facebook, Whatsapp or Instagram. (Here’s a nice visualisation of the routes disappearing.) Cardano’s Atala PRISM digital identity solution can perform the same type of simplified identity management that has started to be a feature of many websites, while vesting control and ownership in individual hands (via the blockchain). And if we imagine this combined with Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid project then we start to see the solution to the privacy and data piracy madness that currently surrounds the Facebooks and Googles and etceteras.
Sustainable governance. Cardano has a built-in treasury, where a proportion of minted (or staked) ADA is kept aside and allocated via a voting mechanism (modelled on liquid democracy). The treasury provides a key part of the sustainability profile of the chain, whilst also supplying the foundations of a cooperative community governance mechanism.
Catalysed development. As a first step in this type of democratic governance, the Cardano Catalyst community is now in its 6th round of funds distribution to projects that propose additions to the Cardano ecosystem. Participation is high, with 10s of 000s of users contributing to community discussion and ranking of proposals (using the Ideascale platform). Where Cardano needs new peripherals or ecosystem services or just a better documented API the Catalyst community can generate projects to fill the hole, in the same way that open source has driven computing innovation via cooperating communities.
If we put this together, what do we have? All the makings of a decentralised, democratic, sustainable financial system that doesn’t rely on Big Tech (or nation states, for that matter). Add that to decentralised and democaratised manufacturing and doesn’t that start to give us a chance of independence, of the power to turn away from destroying our world?
Maybe there’s some hope up this creek after all.
You can call our current social system capitalism, or neoliberalism, or globalisation, or, if you really want to, Ermintrude. The essence of it in any case is a set of parameters for ownership, wealth, and the continual recreation of the preconditions of our existence — food, shelter, warmth, etc. Generally speaking, the dominant voices in our media-mediated world (and also sometimes even in our funding-driven academic discourse) contend that any adjustment of our current set of parameters will inevitably lead us to disaster. This has more to do with the fact that although only a tiny number of people are well served by the current status quo, unfortunately they are also very powerful (especially now that anyone with large amounts of money can buy social media posts at approximately $0.01 per million!). So the road to a better future is hard to find on the currently available maps. No satnav will deliver you to sustainability, no what3words will point you to a safe future for yourself and your family. What we have to do is build that road to safety ourselves: to build the road as we travel along it. Luckily we have a lot of giants’ shoulders to stand on — and Cardano is becoming one of those foundations.
We have been doing numbers before, important number like an initial Cardano Stake Pool Carbon Footprint for us and for the Cardano Stake Pools in general, and we will continue to do the numbers as they are important.
One important number to take into account when thinking about the climate impact of internet based technologies, such as blockchains, is the electricity consumption. We all know that Bitcoin is using a lot of energy, but really how much is often unclear.
However, if you look at some research and put it in perspective the picture becomes clearer.
So we looked up the numbers and compared Cardano versus Bitcoin.
The results are in:
Cardano is currently about 10,000x more energy efficient than Bitcoin.
Here are the calculations:
The Kettle analogue to help visualisation
The energy consumption for one transaction on Cardano is equivalent to boiling a kettle for about 3.6min. However, for one transaction on Bitcoin the kettle would boil for 23 days.
Spoiler: Because it is a positive impact #blockchain.
Among all the blockchains out there, Cardano has the ingredients to grow sustainably and at the same time to make the world a better place. Among the many reasons we think Cardano brings more value than older #blockchains is the growing Cardanoecosystem.
The ecosystem alone, plus the easy ability to stake your $ADA and obtain higher interests than from your bank today would perhaps be enough for most. Its utility also goes far beyond what can be done with a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
However, the following three reasons are important ones for us at SHIFT Pool:
As researchers ourself, we appreciate the importance of this review process and the time it takes. We will continue to use the scientific process to build upon.
Low energy consumption of the Cardano Proof of Stake protocol, which uses 10,000x less electricity than the best known blockchain Bitcoin.
The consumption per transaction and overall has been compared in our recent calculations we did as a pool here.
Bitcoin or other Proof of Work blockchains like Ethereum (1.0) electricity consumption is not sustainable in a world where most energy is still generated from fossil fuels.
The world must zero out its emissions as soon as possible (see IPCC AR6 report summary), which means new technologies such as blockchains must be part of the solution.
A decentralised community with thousands of people on a mission to do good.
We are a member of Climate Neutral Cardano. A Group of Stake Pool Operators that is on a mission to make Cardano a climate positive blockchain and stop global warming. We are one of many thousands of groups spending thousands of $ADA and hours with the community, on projects that have a positive impact on our society and planet as a whole.
Cardano is not just its cryptocurrency ($ADA), but its mission as a whole is also to bring prosperity and new possibilities to billions of people in the world that are currently unbanked. Something we wholeheartedly stand behind.
None of the above can be found with Bitcoin and only part of these are addressed by other #blockchains.
Cardano is the blockchain we believe in and have invested our time and money in. As a Stake Pool we maintain the network for all of us and we are proud to do so with a positive impact.