After last year launching what miners tagged “the stupidest idea” of 2021, suggesting that the Bitcoin protocol should abandon the “climate disaster” of proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanisms, Ripple Chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen is now back for more.
This time, he is stumping up a whopping USD 5m to co-fund a campaign – in conjunction with campaigners from Greenpeace and the Environmental Working Group to “buy ads in leading publications over the next month.” These ads, it appears, will repeat some of the hackneyed and debunked environmental claims made by opponents of BTC. They will appear in publications such as Politico and the Wall Street Journal.
Per Bloomberg, “some local activist groups battling bitcoin miners are also mobilizing their millions of members for grassroots efforts.”
It could be argued that Larsen – whose company Ripple is affiliated with XRP – would have plenty to gain from the demise or decline of BTC. But he refuted claims that this was in fact his chief motive.
Bloomberg quoted Larsen as stating:
“If I was concerned about bitcoin as a competitor, probably the best thing I could do is let it continue on this path. This is just an unsustainable path.”
On Twitter, he published a thread repeating his concerns, but noted that “these efforts are mine alone.” He added:
“While I’m still Chairman of Ripple, the company is not involved in this campaign. (On that note, apologies to the Ripple comms team!)”
And apologies may well be needed – as bitcoiners came out in their droves to denounce Larsen’s claims. Many pointed out that PoW was in fact the beauty of BTC, and without it, the coin would lose many of its unique qualities.
Bitcoin miners, suffice it to say, were not impressed.
Indeed, Chris Bendiksen, a bitcoin researcher and mining expert at CoinShares, was quoted as stating:
“I’d put the chance of bitcoin ever moving to [Proof-of-Stake] at exactly 0%. There is no appetite among bitcoiners to destroy the security of the protocol by making such a move.”
‘Change the Code Not the Climate’
The campaign will be entitled “Change the Code Not the Climate,” and is being spearheaded by long-time BTC PoW critic Michael Brune. The latter was quoted by the Guardian as stating that “some boutique wind or solar operations powering a few high-profile mining operations” were insignificant, and added that “fossil fuel growth is outpacing renewable growth in Bitcoin mining.”
Larsen, meanwhile, resorted to conjecture in outlining a “nightmare scenario” that many people – not only BTC advocated and miners – might find outlandishly far-fetched.
He spoke of a world that attains a “renewable future in China, the United States, and the EU,” but whereby “countries rich in fossil fuel switch to bitcoin mining to keep their operations running.”
“Imagine the Saudis sitting on all that oil, which has a cost of about half a [US] cent per kilowatt-hour – no renewable can match that. Bitcoin mining could be this endless monetization engine for fossil fuels. That would be a nightmare.”
The General Partner at Castle Island Ventures, Nic Carter, accused Larsen of “shenanigans,” and called him “straight up not a good person” on Twitter.
User ledgerstatus — presumably NFT marketplace Flip co-founder Brian Krogsgard — opined that the campaigners were “trying to get media hype attention, which in turn gets community attention but for the wrong reasons,” adding that the move would “likely stir the pot more for those already itchy to be anti-crypto.”
Andrew M. Bailey, a Bitcoin advocate and an associate professor at Yale-NUS College, wrote that a switch to PoS would be “a sad defeat and capitulation to autocratic control.” He added that his “bags would rejoice” at a PoS Bitcoin, “I’m sure there’d be a pump,” and quipped that a “PoS fork of bitcoin, abandoned by all, would be delicious, and much like the forks we’ve already collectively dumped.”