Blockchain’s impact on the environment has long been a matter of discussion. Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla’s decision to suspend purchases using Bitcoin underscored concerns about energy usage, and even U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned about Bitcoin’s “staggering” energy usage.
ICON hogs a lot less juice than Bitcoin, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things the community can do to reduce the network’s environmental impact.
P-Rep team Spartan Node recently announced it would henceforth be carbon neutral, offsetting any CO2 from its server through Terrapass, a San Francisco-based company that offers a range of carbon offsetting products and services.
Spartan Node is also challenging other P-Reps to step up to the proverbial plate and become carbon neutral, too.
The Iconist carried out a written interview with “Dusty” of Spartan Node to learn more about its environmental initiative.
Q: What inspired you to go carbon neutral? Why now?
A: Given that ICON is a DPoC or Delegated Proof of Contribution platform, it’s already really efficient and doesn’t squander resources like some other blockchains. That is one major reason we were interested in ICON from its inception. It’s simply more efficient in more ways than one and given the recent moves by some governments around the world to curtail CO2 emissions — and in turn use it as a reason to ban POW miners in certain countries — we thought it would be interesting to make ICON sustainable since it’s already light years more efficient than older technologies.
Q: Explain a bit more how you are going carbon neutral? And why is going carbon neutral so easy on ICON?
A: We are simply purchasing carbon offsets through Terrapass, which is innovative in its own way by using their own token on Ethereum called Terrapass coin. It’s good for the offsetting of one metric ton of CO2 in a verifiable way using our own industry — blockchain — to help better the world a little at a time. Going carbon neutral on ICON is easy because we aren’t running thousands of mining machines and can easily offset a typical node setup as an on-premise or data center-server using non-green electricity at 916 kg CO2, which actually costs only around USD 15 per month to offset the entire usage of our node for the network, or maybe even a little extra.
Q: How does Terrapass work, exactly?
A: Terrapass allows individuals and businesses to purchase carbon offsets, which go to fund forestry initiatives, anaerobic digesters, wind/solar generation and waste gas capture electrical production facilities. Seeing as we’re a blockchain project, we also appreciate that we can support another blockchain initiative in bringing recognition to the space in a way that encourages CSR and accountability.
With Spartan Node purchasing carbon offsets, it allows ICON community members to make a positive impact on our environment. The community can verify the contributions made, as well as help the ICON Project communicate to the public the technological and social benefits of using the ICON blockchain.
Q: How serious of a problem is blockchain’s impact on the environment?
A: I personally don’t think it is terribly bad for the environment. In fact, we already see large Bitcoin miners switching to more renewable energy sources. But the narrative that it’s bad for the environment is also bad for blockchain because it’s an argument that some use to try to control this nascent industry. So in our minds, being carbon neutral takes away an argument they can use against us.
Q: As you know, Elon Musk has had some things to say about this lately…
A: Well, I really don’t follow Elon all that much, but I do know that he has had some opinions on the issue. Let’s face it, a company like Tesla selling cleaner cars to offset pollution is a bit odd if they are supporting more polluting blockchains that won’t get with the times and at least try to be responsible world citizens. So I think having a person like Elon out there encouraging us to be cleaner if we can be is a good thing, and I think we’ve seen positive movement within the industry to try to become cleaner. It’s a bit like nudging us to be better. With ICON it’s easy, though.
Q: You’ve challenged other P-Reps to become carbon neutral. Have you discussed this with other P-Reps before? Has there been discussion in the community regarding carbon production? Has anyone taken you up on your challenge yet?
A: It literally costs USD 15-30 a month to become carbon neutral for even a larger node such as ourselves, so the cost isn’t even a blip on the radar. I think most of us in the ICON community already know the advantages of DPoC or DPoS systems and their inherently better economics with respect to energy usage, but the rest of the world and perhaps even Elon Musk hasn’t heard about us. I think that’s why Elon likes Doge even though ICON’s much more efficient. It’s nice to feel good about our industry by supporting more efficient networks.
I haven’t consulted with any other Preps in this, as it was basically my decision to move Spartan Node to a more carbon neutral stance. Given that it’s so affordable and easy to do with TerraPass I thought it would be neat to invite them with an open challenge to at least try. I think it could be a real selling point to note ICON is carbon neutral because it’s a strong point of ours. We should at least try. It’s dead simple to do.
Q: Are there blockchain-related technologies coming that could drastically reduce blockchain’s environmental impact?
A: Given that we are moving from the equivalent of a steam engine powering Bitcoin to more efficient modes of energy like geothermal for Bitcoin to newer blockchains like ICON and Solana and Ethereum becoming Dedicated Proof of Stake next year, it’s highly likely that whole industry will be migrating to more efficient and renewable sources of energy. Because, let’s face it, it’s in the whole industry’s interest to be good players globally. And given that ICON is already more efficient than most, it just fits us perfectly. Anything that helps tell ICON’s story is what I concern myself with most days, and this is a perfect fit for the network, in my humble opinion.
About Spartan Node
Q: Tell us more about Spartan Node. Who are you guys and what do you do?
A: Spartan Node is a community node that was founded to speak for all Iconists several years ago. I actually started to try to help small businesses get on the blockchain because I run a small family business that’s been in business for 71 years. We were a sub P-rep for a couple of years and then decided that we’d become a voice for our community within the greater communities that comprise ICON.
We are a grassroots node that created https://www.nftbazaar.io which utilizes a deflationary token on ICON called LDX. Anyone can invest in an NFT on our platform by using LDX to back an NFT — that will earn them a residual in ICX anytime that NFT sells. We’ve got a large filesize at 50MB, and I’ve put entire concerts up that I did when I was an active musician.
We also currently have the Icon Real World Tokenization project that’s about to go live — my own personal business will be testing it. It was a grant from the Contribution Proposal System and is basically done now. It uses NFTs and a barcode scanner and is really easy to use for people who won’t even know they are using ICON or anything blockchain. So I am pretty excited about that.
We share a certain percent of our node earnings weekly in addition to airdrips of LDX — which is also deflationary, I might add, in that it can burn if it isn’t sent every two months. We are just keen on increasing ICON usage and bringing the story of ICON and realize its potential. We also have a social site that is on ICON called keekee.io where users can find friends and even tip each other in ICX.
The main thing is we are just ICONists who love this community and want to see it succeed.
In the near future, we have two very exciting CPS projects coming up. One is icx.wiki. We want to provide a place for ALL information ICONists have produced to be easily accessible and sorted. We also have @icxshark and @cryptosharknews. We are also holding talks with a county in Southwest Virginia on an education, finance and blockchain course for young students in the heart of Appalachia that is super exciting.
Thank you for having us and we hope to see more P-reps become carbon neutral! It’s easy!