The advent of the Internet last 40 years or more has opened up the world to a myriad of possibilities, development and timely innovations. This development has so far been classified into three stages: Web1, Web2 and Web3. Web1 came into public usage in the early-to-mid-1990s when the website was mostly static and non-interactive, providing only text and a few images. Web2 came into being in the 2000s with interactive websites; portable devices (smartphones, tablets, smartwatches) allowing users not only to utilize content but also to create it. The cloud, which came into being in late 2006 with the introduction of S3 storage from AWS, changed everything because it made available the complete integration of life in society on computers – from finance to personal life.
The 2020s can be called the internet breakthrough or the new internet. Web3 the 3rd stage of internet development represents the decentralization of everything. Decentralization is the sense that their people can make decisions, and own digital assets independently without having a central agency responsible for major decisions. This implies decapitating big tech firms such as Alphabet, Meta and Amazon which singularly manage many kinds of transactions on Web2.
On Web3, we can expect to see and use a lot more 3D video, augmented reality, Virtual Reality and mixed Reality applications, faster-moving and more impactful video games, AI/ML-powered applications for business and entertainment, and a number of other things we don’t normally see on today’s Web2.
Decentralized finance or DeFi, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin which is decentralized through a distributed architecture (called a blockchain) will all thrive in Web3.
As we continue to recount the unending potentials of Web3 and the many benefits it portends, we must all keep in mind the inevitable Aftermatch of this innovation.
Environmental Impact Of Web3
While we are merry about this advanced revolutionary technology, it is important to highlight its environmental impact.
High Energy Consumption
The amount of energy it takes to mine a single bitcoin is estimated to be between 86,000 to 286,000 kWh. A kWh is the amount of energy a 1,000-watt appliance uses in over an hour. To put that into perspective, that is about 59 days’ worth of power consumed by an average U.S. household. On an average day, 240,000 to 300,000 bitcoin transactions are sent over the network. When these numbers reach the seven and eight-figure realms, red lights will be blinking in data centres all over the world, temperatures inside data centres will rise and environmentalists will be furious.
Concerning the amount of energy required to mine bitcoin, we should be more concerned with the carbon footprint.
For the report, Bitcoin’s network consumes around 128 GWh a day in order to produce 900 bitcoins. Definitely not a good starting point in a bid to control the power and carbon footprint used on the internet.
Web3 will entail the use of Virtual, Augmented, mixed Reality wearables and loads of other technologies for its propagation. In developing or using these technologies we will be generating loads of tech waste, which will adversely impact the environment.
Developing A Sustainable Web3
In developing a sustainable web3, we must put into consideration the volume of carbon emission and energy consumption.
Major innovations should be geared toward the reduction of power and carbon footprints. This need to be created and operationalized before a sustainable Web3 can be scaled up and deployed on a regular basis for billions of users.
Net carbon neutrality is a priority for organizations worldwide, but we are still a long way from achieving it. Using less energy in the first place can help us all get closer — especially when it comes to energy-hungry data centres faced with increasingly heavy workloads in the age of machine learning and AI.
Data centres account for around 1% of global electricity consumption. While energy efficiency has helped limit that growth despite the surge in demand for data services, the International Energy Agency cites a significant risk that growing demand for resource-intensive applications like AI in particular will begin to outpace the gains of recent years.
As I come to a close, concerted efforts must be made in not just developing, adopting and integrating web3, but we must also be mindful of the environmental concerns it will pose to the universe.