WWF has turned endangered animal species into NFTs, earmarking funds for their preservation. But a fierce backlash forced him to end those plans.
A global wildlife conservation organization thought it was turning endangered animals into NFT and selling them as ANF (non-fungible animals) might help preserve them, but experts disagreed and the project has now been abandoned. NFTs – short for Non-Fungible Tokens – are digital works of art stored on a blockchain for authentication purposes. They are a passing fad for many and serious business for others. Regardless of how much someone spends on an NFT cartoon, someone else can simply copy it in JPEG format and save it to their computer or phone. The buyer, at least, has the blockchain-verified copy.
Interestingly, the segment is quite diverse and NFTs can be anything from a pixelated punk cartoon or stolen audio file to the world’s first Tweet or original source code from the World Wide Web. The NFT market is expected to reach a staggering $35 billion mark this year, and naturally, every cash-loving entity on planet Earth wants a piece of the pie. From aficionados of flagship killers like OnePlus and outrageously expensive car makers like Ferrari to social media behemoths including YouTube, everyone is trying to flip an NFT or two.
The World Wide Fund for Nature – the self-proclaimed “Leading organization in the conservation of wildlife and endangered species“ – also wanted to get into NFT trading. WWF noted he was trying to “to raise awareness and finance the conservation of ten endangered species” with its Non-Fungible Animals (NFA) initiative. To promote his NFT drop, the number of NFAs representing an animal species was equal to the actual number of that animal in the wild. In the WWF’s view, this adds to this limited edition, ie exclusivity, appeal. Among the endangered animals up for auction was a species of porpoise called Vaquita, of which only 22 are known to survive in the wild. The rarer the animal, the higher its value on the NFT scale. “Limited edition” NFAs such as those by Vaquita (priced at $349) and the Cattle Horn Saola (sold at $399 a pop) were quickly sold out. But all that NFT trading was short-lived.
Good intentions, bad execution
WWF said all proceeds from the sale of its NFAs would go to the conservation of endangered animal species. Additionally, each time an NFA is resold, WWF would receive a 10% reduction in the net purchase value. However, NFTs are intrinsically linked to the energy-intensive technology called blockchain, which also forms the basis of cryptocurrencies. Alarms have been raised about the environmental impact of NFTs, and some digital artists have even pulled out of lucrative auctions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for legitimate reasons. The WWF said its NFAs are powered by the “green” Polygon blockchain, which consumes just 0.001 kWh of energy and has a carbon footprint equal to a pint of tap water. The UK branch of the WWF even published a detailed breakdown of how it calculated the environmental impact of its NFAs, with some heavy scientific terms and decimals. However, this page has now been removed.
The “green” Polygon blockchain records transactions on Ethereum, which is still based on a “non-green” blockchain architecture. But as usual, the internet (and legitimate pundits) didn’t buy into WWF’s NFA explanation. According to euro newscritics described the move as “surprisingly stupid” and “terribly awful” among others. “Proof of work mining or validation is what gives Ethereum its dirtiness. If people buy Eth to spend on WWF NFTs, then the value of Eth goes up and so the amount of mining goes up, because the rewards for doing so are higher,” Pete Howson, a senior lecturer at Northumbria University, was quoted in the report. Facing intense backlash, the WWF eventually withdrew its NFA plans and issued a declaration on his UK website, noting that he was closing the NFA trial on February 4. “We recognize that NFT are a hotly debated issue, and we all have a lot to learn about this new market, which is why we will now fully assess the impact of this trial and consider how best to continue innovating to engage our supporters,” WWF UK wrote.
Next: Now YouTube is getting into the NFT game
90 Day Fiancé: What Angela and Michael have been up to since Tell-All split
About the Author