Solarpunk Magazine run by crypto bros?
Solarpunk is a new genre that imagines optimistic futures where we solve the climate crisis and create post-scarcity societies. I and many other members of the solarpunk community were surprised when the new Solarpunk Magazine announced they would publish non-fiction articles discussing the merits of NFT’s, a type of cryptocurrency. As forms of artificial scarcity that typically accelerates the climate crisis, crypto would seem anathema to solarpunk.
At first I thought the disconnect was temporal. The community reacted negatively to the cryptocurrencies as they currently are, and the magazine wished to advocate for the crypto that one day might be. However, the more I looked into the editorial staff and their reactions to our concerns, the more worried I became.
The Creative Director Hal Hefner’s Twitter bio proclaims “#NFTartist.” Further, Co-Editor in Chief Justine Norton-Kertson (they/he/she), who runs the solarpunklitmag Twitter account, made their position clear. They attempted to defend NFT’s and cryptocurrency as being solarpunk using deflection and other arguments that were misleading and false. My interpretation of their response is that their words came from someone deeply invested in cryptocurrency, but you can be the judge of that. I have screenshotted the tweets and will discuss them below; (it is a lot).
The first reply was to when I expressed my disappointment the magazine would platform NFT’s.
Let’s unpack this. Justine Norton-Kertson claims lots of people in the solarpunk community support NFT’s. Further, they claim many want Ethereum as a moderate option. If that’s false, then Justine Norton-Kertson was gaslighting me. If that’s true, then let’s look into the costs:
One Ethereum transaction uses more power than an average U.S. household does over 8 days. Its carbon footprint (again, one transaction) is the same as 255,478 VISA swipes or 19,212 hours of watching YouTube. This single type of cryptocurrency burns more power than the Netherlands. (Source.)
If “many” solarpunks really do want Ethereum, they need to know the damage they’re causing. That would be a great non-fiction article in Solarpunk Magazine. They should publish it as soon as possible, to prevent further global warming. Even if crypto mining was done entirely with renewable energy, we would be better off using that power for heating, growing food, or anything else really.
Let’s peek at their second tweet reply:
From propaganda to greed, this tweet covers a lot of ground. I agree that we should organize against the root cause, capitalism. Solarpunk Magazine should too with its non-fiction articles, instead of platforming NFT’s, which are ghostly glyphs of late-stage capitalism burning us alive.
Justine Norton-Kertson continued to try to deflect away from the topic at hand, tweeting as solarpunklitmag:
Again, rather than trying to defend their indefensible position, they deflect. Yes, obviously colonial extraction of metals is an issue. Hey, that sounds like another good non-fiction article instead of a puff piece for NFT’s. (I’m sending these suggestions to email@example.com; feel free to submit ideas too.) But wait, there is so much more:
Deflection into nihilism. If we’re all equally guilty and our choices don’t matter, we might as well buy into Ponzi schemes that enrich tech bros and accelerate us toward a climate apocalypse. Luckily, that’s a falsehood. Our choices do matter. Taking the bus uses less gas than driving a car. Individual actions like that and avoiding crypto will buy us more time to transition into a future that’s truly solarpunk.
Justine Norton-Kertson tweeted more similar deflections, but I’ll move on to the next level.
Nothing will make NFT’s go away? Those insubstantial collectables are one new fad from collapsing like a pile of overpriced tulip bulbs. If that comparison isn’t fair, because tulip mania didn’t contribute to global warming, I apologize.
Justine Norton-Kertson mentioned that NFT’s could be made eco-friendly. Even if that’s true, promoting them in the short term will burn us. And in the long-term, solarpunk societies don’t need artificial scarcity. If NFT’s in the future are used for something else and produced by another means, maybe don’t call them NFT’s. Objects sharing little to nothing in common should be called different names, unless you’re trying to make a quick buck.
In response to someone suggesting they platform artists rather than NFT’s, solarpunklitmag tweeted:
If Solarpunk Magazine had any other name, we could more readily ignore it. “Cryptoshill Magazine,” for instance. By declaring themselves solarpunk, they do have obligations to this community, especially our safety. Greenwashing crypto is exploitative and endangers us, by accelerating the climate crisis.
What can we do about it? For now, we should stay loud asserting that greenwashing crypto in Solarpunk Magazine would be unforgivable. Even if they give equal time to arguments against NFT’s, that’s still unacceptable. Bothsidesism, also called “false balance,” is a media bias in which journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence supports. This is part of the reason we’re in a climate crisis to begin with. Whenever a news station had a climate scientist on to warn about global warming, they would also bring on an insane climate denier to muddle the conversation. CNN and other networks did this because they had something to sell.
If Solarpunk Magazine goes forward and platforms crypto, we should call for resignations and refunds. You can make your intentions clear now by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Justine Norton-Kertson acts as if you cannot get refunds through Kickstarter. I don’t know if that’s true, but I would try. I would discourage people from subscribing to Solarpunk Magazine until they commit to not platform crypto. Comment with other suggestions of actions we should take, or even other sources of solarpunk stories.