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Cardano SPO Column #040: SHIFT Pool [SHIFT]

This piece was published January 1st, 2022 on The Cryptonomist

This week’s guest on the Cardano SPO Column is a climate positive stake pool operated by two environmental activists who want to change the world for the better: SHIFT Pool [SHIFT].

Last week’s guest was a stake pool that donates 20% of its pool rewards to the Barka Foundation.

This initiative is a point of reference for everything Cardano and every week or two we will invite a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.

Considering that many of our readers are new to the crypto space, we will have a mix of simple and technical questions.

Hi Christian and Hamish. Tell us something about yourselves, where are you based and what are your backgrounds?

We are two stake pool operators with a long environmental activist track record who want to change the world for the better.

Christian was a medical scientist who transitioned into environmental engineering and management. He also chaired an environmental activist network at the University of Sheffield for many years. He’s very passionate about anything that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Hamish is a Research Professor in Computer Science at the University of Sheffield. He has been a software engineer, researcher, open source developer and Principal Investigator on some 25 research grants, and ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to produce the MoPi mobile power board for the Raspberry Pi.

What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become Stake Pool Operators (SPO)?

We discovered Cardano in the beginning of 2021, after becoming interested in crypto and starting to invest. Applying our research minds and science backgrounds, we quickly decided that Cardano stands out from the cryptocurrency pack. Its research base is really impressive and together with the videos by Charles Hoskinson it is hard to look anywhere else.

However, the most compelling arguments for choosing Cardano were its ethical and mission driven goals along with the low energy requirements of Proof of Stake. Moreover, we felt we had the opportunity, skills and alignment to participate in this new technology, while being able to raise money for environmental causes. It seemed like something we could do to make a difference for us and the planet. We already have projects we have worked on, and charities we work with, and the additional funding could enable us to do more.

In terms of projects, we have applied for additional funding from Catalyst Fund 7 (the Cardano funding platform) to determine the total Cardano Carbon Footprint through an independent expert organisation. This is something that will be essential to turn Cardano into a climate positive blockchain.

Cardano is often referred to as the eco-friendly blockchain, but you’re taking it a step forward by being climate positive, what does that mean?

Cardano has established a working Proof of Stake protocol based on its scientific work. Hence, Cardano uses over 10,000x less electricity than Bitcoin does. Just to give you an example, compare this to the electricity consumption of boiling a kettle. For a Cardano transaction you have to boil that kettle for about 3.6min, while for a Bitcoin transaction you boil that kettle for 23 days.

That alone makes Cardano the obvious choice if you consider the climate emergency we are in.

Our pool has been an Active Member of the Climate Neutral Cardano group of Stake Pools from a very early stage, which means we run on 100% renewable energy and donate more than 25% of our rewards to climate change related projects.

However, we wanted to be climate positive from the very start of our operations. We therefore calculated the predicted l carbon footprint of our own pool, including electricity and part of the personal emissions generated by our two operators. Then we offset these expected emissions when we started our pool by planting trees with Trees for Life in Scotland. This means that all our donations and project work will remove carbon from the atmosphere as our operational emissions are already neutralised.

Details about how we measured and offset our emissions are published on our blog here.

On the topic of global warming, what danger do you think we are in? And what can individuals do in their daily lives to help mitigate this environmental crisis?

Great question.

Honestly, we are in serious danger. The world has warmed about 1.2C since 1850 (Ref). And it is agreed that this is caused by human activity as proven by some of the biggest scientific efforts ever made and published by the United Nations in their IPCC reports. The latest IPCC AR6 report on “the physical science basis” of climate change was published very recently and provides a clear and disturbing picture of our situation.

We already see widespread destruction from extreme weather events, causing floods, heat waves, wildfires and water shortages around the world. Many small island nations are already losing their land to rising sea levels. These either directly harm lives or indirectly cause starvation and migration.

At 1.5C global average temperature rise this may still be something we can adapt to and mitigate, above 2C we won’t be able to manage anymore. The world as we know it will change and many will die alongside the widespread destruction of wildlife and ecosystems.

The way to help mitigate this crisis is by raising awareness and implementing the solutions we already have available.

Energy, currently mostly generated from fossil sources, is a key factor. We have to cut demand and at the same time generate electricity from renewable sources. That is why Cardano, with its lower energy consumption, has a much better basis for enduring within a society where all processes need to be zero carbon.

What you can do:

Choose a stake pool that runs on energy efficient servers and 100% renewable energy. At the same time improve energy efficiency at home and change to a renewable provider if available. Become climate aware and find out what is available in your neighborhood.

To become climate aware, we recommend watching this lecture by Prof Kevin Anderson who talks about the situation and solutions. Including the importance of cutting energy demand.

Have a look at your own carbon footprint, with many tools available for free. If you are in the UK, we very much recommend using the WWF carbon footprint calculator.

Thank you kindly for your time. Any final thoughts? Where can people stay in touch?

Please join the fight for a zero carbon future and help us make Cardano a blockchain that is part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If you stake to SHIFT we are making sure that your investment is climate positive and makes a difference, while you continue to earn rewards and ensure a sustainable and innovative blockchain.

For more details about our pool, including our mission, our projects and how to stake have a look at our website. We can also be contacted on Twitter.

We are part of the Climate Neutral Cardano group of Stake Pools operators and can recommend any of their pools.

Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the SPOs are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOHK.

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Patryk | Interviewing Cardano SPOs & NFT projects

Patryk | Interviewing Cardano SPOs & NFT projects

Ambassador for Bio Pool | Writer and Translator for The Cryptonomist | Watch “Dominion (2018)” on YouTube