What the F Are NFTs

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Beeple’s work titled OCEANFRONT addresses the earth’s current climate change crisis, featuring a tree sitting on shipping containers atop a platform in the ocean. Beeple mentioned on Twitter (@beeple) his commitment to donating the proceeds of this NFT sale to charity. Not long after, Justin Sun, a crypto-entrepreneur and billionaire, stepped forward to pay $6,000,000 for the winning bid.

The beginning of the year has been riddled with conversation about Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Bidding on highly expensive NFTs, and controversy about their existence has been discussed by multiple groups. Social media influencers, actors, and celebrities have started to create their own NFTS, or even project with NFT, companies to sell specific art of themselves. One in particular is voice actor Troy Baker who is partnering with VoiceVerseNFT, which is selling unique voices for people to own. 

“You can hate or you can create. What’ll it be?” Baker tweeted Jan. 13, which received multiple backlash from fans and other voice actors. 

Many NFTs deal in selling unique and solely digital items like art, music, games and more. The biggest issue with NFTs is that some of the art bought is plagiarism and theft of other artists’ work. Many of the sources selling the art online have been revealed to not be the original artists of the work, but they are getting all of the profit. 

Although NFTs have been around since 2014, the rise in popularity recently has made many artists start to sell their work completely online through blockchains. Blockchains are a digital ledger for the work being sold, which can then be re-sold and traded online. Trading, however, can only be done through the non-fungible tokens. This is why NFTs are different from bitcoin, or other types of online currency, which can be used for a variety of transactions. Only being able to use NFTs to pay for the unique items creates a sense of scarcity and even more uniqueness for the items. 

One of the biggest issues social media is having with NFTs is their environmental impact. Even though it seems like it might not be affecting the environment because it is online, NFTs are actually doing a lot of damage to our planet. Since NFTs are only on the internet their carbon footprint adds up. According to Memo Akten, one transaction of an NFT creates  about 48kg of CO2. This keeps happening through every single transaction. Since these unique items are only sold on the internet, and through other trades or transactions of NFTs, that amount of CO2 rises. This has made the carbon footprints of some NTFs astronomically high. 

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The NFT craze has been similarly linked to the Beanie Baby craze of the ‘90s. During this time, Beanie Babies were sold in supermarkets and stores across the country. The popularity for them rose when the creator of these toys, Ty Warner, began to retire specific types of Beanie Babies from production. This created a scarcity for those specific types, which made collectors either keep the ones they had or buy them and keep them as well to preserve their true nature. Resale of retired Beanie Babies were astronomical, with some being over $600,000.  

Demand for NFTs seems to keep rising, and the use of them seems to be normalizing. Perhaps art shows will now be entirely virtual and paintings will only be able to be seen through the internet. 

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