In our last blog we discussed three major news stories from 2018; Plastic Pollution, the Economic Crisis in Venezuela and The US-China Trade War. In each of these stories there is a spin that Blockchain Technology may provide a solution. In this edition we will be exploring how three other big stories of 2018 do as well; Climate Change, Ecological Crime and the Refugee Crisis.

Climate Change

The Price We May Pay for Bitcoin Mining

Arguably the most pressing issue of the past year has been Climate Change. Scientists have stated that bitcoin mining might be the nail In the coffin of climate change because the world is consuming more and more power in the pursuit of mining bitcoins. Recall our previous blog on Paraguay’s huge bitcoin mining project.

A Counter Argument

There are numerous arguments against this theory. The future development of cryptocurrencies is extremely unpredictable. Moreover, the worldwide power generation sector is taking steps to decarbonise. Information technologies, including those employed in cryptocurrency mining, are becoming a great deal more energy efficient. The planet is also hurtling towards the token supply limit of nearly all of the major mined cryptocurrencies. At the same time non-mined cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity .

How can Blockchain Help?

If bitcoin mining does become a catalyst for climate change, it might also become part of the solution. Climate change experts believe blockchain has a role to play in building new systems for the clean-energy market. These will be able to help homeowners market their own surplus energy or facilitate trading of carbon credits by businesses. Accordingly, this will make it much easier for authorities to monitor the emission of greenhouse gases. Examples of companies doing this are Climatecoin, Earth-Token, Poseidon and Climate Futures.

Ecological Crime

A Distressing Picture

Frequently reported in the news in 2018 was illegal poaching, and ecological crime generally. There was some good news on the conservation front.  Nevertheless endangered creatures are still being poached at an alarming rate. We are also seeing the destruction of rain forests and encroachments on the habitat of endangered species. This is mainly for individual greed or misguided political gain and appears to be getting worse. For instance, one of the incoming president of Brazil’s first actions was to put the management of the Amazon basin into the hands of the Agribusiness lobby. Only recently  we saw the passing of the last male northern white rhino, a species which has been poached to the edge of extinction for its horn. Also think of the plight of the Orangutang thanks to the slash-and-burn methods of clearing land for palm-oil plantations .

The Role of the Consumer

As precious time passes,  it will take a coordinated effort from customers, enterprises, and governments to turn this around. The fantastic thing is that the global community is taking action on several fronts. Consumers are also demanding greater transparency with the goods they purchase – from fish and timber to products containing palm oil. They would like to know that their purchases have been produced responsibly. They would like to ensure that the fish they buy is being captured sustainably.

Who are the Culprits?

Illegal logging and mining, as well as the poaching and trafficking of wildlife do not benefit many ordinary people. They are generally complicit corrupt officers, criminals or reckless business pursuits. To fight environmental crime effectively, communities and investors will need to not only to fight illegal trade and its related corruption. They will also have to develop and collaboratively employ advanced tools and technologies.

Tackling Ecological Crime with Blockchain Technology

Luckily, blockchain lends itself to tackling ecological crime. Consumers, companies, and governments will, however, need to come together to fix these issues. In the proper hands, blockchain may be a highly effective weapon to fight for our environment and the communities that rely on secure and sustainable business practices.

Blockchain functions well in scenarios with numerous parties which all need to take part in a tightly controlled system. Because of the immutable,  decentralised nature of a blockchain, its entries cannot be interfered with. As such, it helps create trust between parties which otherwise wouldn’t have existed. A good example of its use is for compliance monitoring, such as with various climate change initiatives. If those who would cannot tamper with data in the blockchain, the published results can be trusted. This offers some hope that the issues we are facing can be tackled head on with Blockchain technology.

The Refugee Crisis

A Complicated Problem

In 2018 we saw the political controversy surrounding immigration in the US and across Europe reaching a peak. We all saw the plight of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants as they fled from a myriad of issues across international borders.  Across the globe children were separated from their parents. Immigrants who were rightly or wrongly classified as illegal were detained indefinitely. Without documentation it is virtually impossible for immigration officials to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing from Syria and other war-torn areas to Europe. It is a humanitarian crisis that needs governments to pool their resources to resolve.

Image showing Country to Country Net Migration (2010-15)

Country-to-country net migration (2010-2015) Image:

Sadly the migration of people fleeing strife or seeking a better life creates opportunities for corrupt officials or criminal elements to profit from their misery.

Political infighting and worsening public opinion is compounding this problem. The absence of an efficient and fair system for processing migrants is prolonging their suffering.

Using Existing Applications to Tackle the Problem

Many industries are using Blockchain Technology to build tracking, monitoring and resource allocation systems. As such it lends itself to addressing many of the problems experienced with global migration.  It has massive storage capacity which immediately propagates a verified and complete record of any transaction to all the nodes in its distributed network. and once on the ledger, cannot be changed. This would immediately eliminate the potential for the loss or fudging of records or the payment of bribes. It would allow the end-to-end tracking of the journey of refugees and asylum seekers. It would allow easy cross-referencing of biographical data, medical and criminal records. In this way,  it dramatically improves efficiency, effectiveness, and security.

Blockchain technology may provide the solution to more easily identify and process genuine refugees and asylum seekers,  and to allow their quick integration into society.

Not a Silver Bullet

You can see how Blockchain Technology has a way of finding itself at the core of most big news stories of our times. It’s obviously not the silver bullet for all the world’s ills. The things that are compounding the world’s ills, however,  are corruption, lack of transparency, greed and other human vices. Therefore we hope that this emerging technology can be used to tackle them head on.

Also published on Medium.