There has been a great deal of chatter about ‘Web3’ recently, and for once it isn’t yet another JPEG selling for thousands of dollars. There are many conflicting opinions about Web3, crypto, NFTs, and the blockchain in general. From a pure sustainability mindset, it’s all pretty terrible.
Insane energy usage. Fossil fuel-powered mining at scale. Even more unequal land grabbing, money hoarding and linked social injustices. All this is really bad.
There are aspects of Web3 that may have had good intentions. More ownership of your digital creations and data. More secure and trackable transactions. Decentralising in a move away from the big corporations owning everything. But, many would argue that it just hasn’t really worked. Perhaps it has been used in the wrong way.
What has happened
‘Secure’ blockchains have been hacked, and money has been stolen. People have lost their life savings due to the instability of crypto markets and the tweets of certain wealthy business owners (and perhaps bad choices in where individuals placed their money). Old coal-fired power stations have been revived purely to power energy-hungry crypto mining operations. And now, Web3 companies are laying off large percentages of staff. Some crypto companies are even facing lawsuits, and others have stopped users from withdrawing their money. This is because they may not have enough cash to be able to pay out.
Is this so long, farewell to Web3?
Many believe that it is. Personally, I kind of hope so. Its heavy energy demands are and have been dreadful for the environment, and the negative social impacts have seemed to outweigh any positive ones.
So what is next?
For some reason, there is talk of ‘Web5’ (what happened to 4?) though many are already speculating that the theme is essentially the same as Web3 but purely based upon Bitcoin. That is if you believe Jack Dorsey and his vision. To me, that doesn’t sound very decentralised… and Bitcoin has so far been one of, if not the most energy-intensive blockchain so far.
I think we all want to see a fairer, more secure, accessible, privacy-friendly version of the web. Just not at the cost to the environment.
Web3 is going just great