When academics and critical thinkers speak of a ‘climate emergency’ it is tempting to assume a tendency towards hyperbole. The reality is that our planet is in crisis, with global heating giving rise not only to rising sea levels but extreme weather events, habitat depletion, and ecosystem collapse.

We should and must act by reducing our energy consumption and thus minimising pressure on strategic analysts to upscale fossil fuel extraction, combustion, and application. This means doing away with those products and services we no longer need and foregrounding those that matter. By no stretch of the definition does it mean crafting new drivers for ecological and hydro-meteorological change.

The Problem With ‘Proof of Work’ Currencies

To say what we are all thinking, Bitcoin (BTC) is an unnecessary evil, or at least an unnecessary pressure on our precious (and expensive) energy resources. While its formative role in the development of cryptocurrencies should not be underestimated and its contributions to democratisation in the financial sector are admirable, its associated cryptographic proof mechanisms carry a heavy cargo of environmental debt. They pave a new path to the same destination: environmental degradation.

The crux of the matter is that the ‘proof of work’ concept is as primordial as the fossilised debris Big Oil is pumping out from the depths of our oceans. To determine value, all the computers on the Bitcoin system compete against each other to solve the problem associated with each block. Since more than one trillion dollars’ worth of assets are stored on the system, this requires a tremendous amount of energy and will only require more as time progresses. The expansion of the system will not only increase demand for new blocks, but the proportion of energy wasted through the computational process.

This energy could of course be sourced sustainably using renewable resources, but the reality is that in most instances it is a by-product of the fossil fuel industry, the environmental effects and geopolitical influence of which we should be working to mitigate rather than augment. Not only is it true that every Bitcoin mined to date bears a significant carbon signature, a signature greater than any raw material of comparable value. It has been estimated that the total carbon contributions associated with Bitcoin last year exceeded that of Argentina, a nation state of more than forty million people.

The Advantages Of ‘Proof of Stake’

‘Proof of stake’ is a far more efficient solution to the question of how to effectively validate a cryptocurrency’s value. It revolves around the staking process, where investors stake an expressed amount of crypto behind a specific block in the chain. To compensate them for taking a stake in the most legitimate transaction the investors receive a return on their initial crypto investment.

Doing away with complicated equations means investments are verified more quickly, certainly, a detail which speeds up profitability and helps set the course for longer-term strategic planning. But there are environmental advantages, too. This way, there is no need for vast air-conditioned processing centres to interpret complicated blockchains, there is a more sustainable route towards scalability, and there is no ecological cost associated with individual transactions. Investment is only positive.

Research suggests Ethereum (ETH) have reduced energy consumption by as much as 98% by making the switch from ‘proof of work’. There is always the hope that others, including Bitcoin (BTC), might see the light. But some are already pursuing the path towards a more sustainable future.

Where Big Eyes Coin Goes The Extra Mile

If there is one cryptocurrency implicated but also actively invested in the issues and processes associated with environmental stewardship, however, it has to be newcomer Big Eyes Coin (BIG). Like Ethereum (ETH) and its various derivatives, this emerging player uses ‘proof of stake’ evidence to verify its economic value. But the incidental carbon savings of deploying this system are matched by regular contributions to ocean conservation charities – not small investments, but 5% of total revenue.

Its kawaii kitten mascot believes a healthy ocean produces ‘good cat food’. Clearly, however, there is more substance to this emerging player in the cryptocurrency game than meets the eye. If you want to reap the rewards of economic prosperity associated with trading cryptocurrency without sowing the seeds for ecological catastrophe then it would seem to be the obvious candidate. Mitigating the impact of its contributions to democratic trading is seemingly not enough. Why set carbon neutrality as an end goal, the rose-tinted cat enquires, when you can help reverse socio-environmental decay?

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