Going Green: Blockchain Technology on the Frontlines of the Battle Against Climate Change
This article explores the scope and effects of climate change and the possible roles of blockchain technology in combating it. First, it sheds light on the meaning of climate change, causative factors, and effects across world regions. Afterward, the article addresses how decentralized ledgers could be harnessed in the struggle against climate change.
Climate change is a shift in the natural pattern of temperature and weather changes. It is the biggest challenge facing humanity today. From rising temperatures to increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, life on Earth is threatened by the activities of its inhabitants. Spurred by industrialization, the effects of climate change ripple down from the global to the regional level.
Global warming comes to mind when climate change is mentioned. Some articles present it to be equivalent to climate change. However, the rising Earth’s temperature is different from climate change. While the rising temperature triggers the rippling effect that altogether gives climate change its meaning, increased temperature alone does not throw much light on the magnitude and impact of a changing climate.
What is Driving Climate Change?
The single most significant factor contributing to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. While this natural resource fuels automobiles and powers factories, its downsides outweigh the benefits.
A large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation. Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are used to power turbines, and this method of generating electricity is widely used worldwide. Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, petroleum, and coke release greenhouse gases when burned.
The manufacturing industry is a leading producer of greenhouse gases. Fossil fuels are the primary source of energy used in manufacturing processes. More so, inorganic materials like plastics are made from substances obtained from fossil fuels. Mining and construction produce greenhouse gases. Unless the manufacturing sector migrates to renewable energy, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by this sector is poised to increase.
Spurred urbanization and the taste for timber, forest areas are constantly devoured of their life. When cut, plants release stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increasing its concentration. More so, green plants which help to take out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are reduced by deforestation.
Fossil-powered automobiles contribute a massive chunk of greenhouse emissions. From personal cars to public transit and heavy-duty vehicles, the transportation industry plays a role in releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Lifestyle is a salient contributor to greenhouse emissions. From home cooling and heating systems to using plastics, clothing and wasteful lifestyles contribute significantly to greenhouse gases. This lifestyle is more the case among upper-class citizens in different countries.
The Effects of Climate Change
The Earth exists in a closed ecosystem comprising different interconnected microsystems. The effect of climate change triggers a cascading effect that erupts through various systems that sustain life on Earth. Different regions experience climate change differently, including its direct and indirect effects.
From devastating floods to regional conflicts, climate change poses an existential crisis on the lives on Earth. The effects of climate change include droughts, rising sea levels, fire outbreaks, melting polar ice, dwindling biodiversity, and flooding.
Habitats like islands are at higher risk of scorching under the effects of climate change. The secondary effects of climate change include regional conflict, hunger, and poverty. Climate change establishes a vicious circle which starts gradually and accelerates to higher magnitudes if not stalled.
Greenhouse gases act like a hovering blanket over the Earth, preventing heat loss into space and increasing the planet’s surface temperature. As more gases are trapped, the temperature keeps rising. The direct effect of this temperature increase includes melting polar ice and heat-related illnesses.
Climate change disrupts the water cycle and availability, especially in regions with water deficits. Droughts lead to the loss of arable agricultural lands, making food less available and hunger more prevalent. More so, it triggers the migration of dwellers in drought-affected areas and the failure of biological species living in the habitat.
A diverse species of plants and animals is one of the beauties of life on Earth. However, climate change imposes a threat to these lives. Starting from the most endangered, the gradual decline of biodiversity creates a vicious circle that disrupts the energy web. According to a report by the United Nations, the world is losing species 1000 times faster than at any time in history. Wildfires, weather extremes, and diseases are some survival threats facing Earth species.
Hunger is an indirect effect of climate change. Events like drought and flooding reduce the agricultural output of arable lands. Farmers lose their jobs, making food scarce in the affected areas. This imposes pressure on the available food, making it more costly than could be afforded by the poor.
To survive, people living in affected areas migrate to favorable environments. However, this also creates problems like conflict and drives up the competition for the available resources in the area.
The adverse effects of climate change cause people living in affected regions to migrate to areas with favorable environments. The mass migration sparks conflicts between regions as people look for greener pastures. More so, the hunger and poverty index increases as people get displaced from their original homes.
The Role of Blockchain
Blockchain is a novel technology that keeps records of transactions on an immutable, transparent, public, and decentralized ledger. Blockchain is developed by combining two existing technologies– cryptography and peer-to-peer computing. The decentralized nature of blockchain makes it transparent and even more secure than traditional databases.
The decentralized ledger technology was invented to power bitcoin. However, since its debut in 2009, blockchain has been harnessed to build decentralized solutions across different sectors. More so, research is going on at various levels to decipher other possible applications of the novel technology.
Blockchain can also be used as a powerful tool to combat climate change. This includes building decentralized applications to power monitoring systems.
Benefits of Blockchain
Some benefits make blockchain technology steps ahead of its traditional counterpart as a choice for building infrastructures.
Blockchain is transparent by design. Anyone on the internet can access the decentralized ledger. The details of each transaction, the current gas fee, and even the amount of tokens designated to a public address are all visible on-chain.
Unlike in traditional networks, there is no single point of failure in the blockchain. The nodes in a blockchain keep the ledger secure through a consensus mechanism. The strength of a blockchain is related to the number of resources available in the network, making the possibility of a hack unfeasible.
Once a transaction is validated and added to a block on the blockchain, the details of that transaction cannot be altered. Since each block of transactions is linked to the preceding block via a cryptographic hash, any attempt to change the details of transactions in a block will alter the entire blockchain.
Applications of Blockchain
The use of blockchain in cryptocurrency is the first and most popular application of blockchain. However, the potential of a decentralized ledger spans various industries. Cryptocurrencies, as the name implies, are digital currencies secured by cryptography. They can be traded for other digital currencies and are usually native to a blockchain network.
The supply chain is a global industry, spanning different trade routes worldwide. The complexity of the supply chain creates room for corruption and malpractices by bad actors within the chain. Blockchain provides a transparent, immutable, and decentralized ledger for keeping records of transactions in real-time. The distributed ledger can enable transparency in the distribution system by implementing decentralized tracking of goods.
Blockchain in the Struggle Against Climate Change
Blockchain can be used as a tool for fighting climate change by helping build sustainable structures that are carbon neutral, improving traditional structures, and even incentivizing sustainable practices. The use case of blockchain in the struggle against climate change is industry-specific. Blockchain alone is not a panacea for solving the menaces of a deteriorating climate. However, in combination with other emerging technologies like AI and IoT, decentralized ledger technology offers a robust framework for forestalling impending disasters.
Decentralization of Energy Grids
The power sector of many nations primarily exists in a centralized infrastructure that a central government controls. More so, significant power generation is derived from non-renewable sources. The battle with climate change is spurring actions towards adopting clean energy sources.
Blockchain enables decentralized energy generation and trading. With real-time tracking, power generated from renewable sources could be traded over the blockchain. The decentralized ledger allows transparent monitoring of power consumption across households. Energy trading conserves energy by enabling the sale of unused energy to other users in the grid.
Tokenized Carbon Credits
In the recent rush for NFT, the World Bank pioneered a project that will tokenize carbon credits. While it is unclear how much success the project recorded, it reveals another potential of the emerging technology.
Introducing carbon credit sales in the marketplace comes with unique challenges. The feasibility of the carbon credit market relies on the integrity of credit sellers. Investors need to trust that a project is not selling their carbon credit, which represents a tonne of carbon emission, to more than one person. This is a trust problem that can be solved with decentralized ledger technology.
Water is one of the essential assets sustaining life on Earth, driving both domestic and industrial activities. Fresh water availability is declining as regions are thrown into droughts. It is paramount to ensure water security and equitable distribution, especially in endangered areas.
The decentralized ledger technology is applicable in bringing solutions to ensure the security of the available water resources. Applications in this area include transparent monitoring and tracking of water distribution and its source. Water conservation is a fair practice that households and industries can adopt. Blockchain can be used to incentivize this practice.
Incentivizing Sustainable Practices
Espousing sustainable practices is one of the efficient ways to keep climate change in check. Blockchain can monitor and incentivize sustainable practices, encouraging companies and organizations to go the green way.
Case Study– 5ireChain
5ireChain is a blockchain project that is focused on environmental sustainability. By incentivizing sustainable practices, 5ireChain encourages institutions and governmental bodies to imbibe the sustainability mantra.
To achieve its aims, 5ireChain, founded by three visionary entrepreneurs, is developed with a unique consensus mechanism. The proof-of-5ire consensus is a modified version of the traditional proof-of-stake mechanism. This modification is to enable 5ireChain to carry out its objectives.
The proof-of-5ire consensus mechanism recognizes sustainability factors that come into play during node selection. Nodes with a track record of imbibing sustainability practices get a weighting factor that gives them an edge over other nodes during node selection. While other elements found in traditional proof-of-stake are also present in 5ireChain, the proof-of-5ire is a step further to ensure a smooth transition to a sustainable future.
Combating the effect of a changing climate and preserving life on Earth requires a holistic approach. Human ingenuity and resourcefulness are necessary to forestall an ugly future.
Blockchain, a 21st-century innovation, and revolutionary technology have found its way to the frontlines of the battle against climate change. While the application of this nascent technology is not equivalent to instant victory, it gives humans a winning chance in a way that never existed.
As blockchain technology advances and goes mainstream, more ways to use the decentralized ledger in forestalling climate change are poised to emerge.
More information about 5ireChain can be found by clicking on the following links:
White paper: https://bit.ly/3Qcsmor