Bitcoin boosters blasted Chris Larsen’s environmental proposal as insincere.
Many prominent Bitcoiners took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
Chris Larsen, the billionaire co-founder of Ripple, roiled the crypto world on Tuesday with a call for Bitcoin to reduce its environmental impact. He’s teaming up with Greenpeace and the Sierra Club and bankrolling a $5 million campaign called “Change the Code not the Climate” that will call attention to Bitcoin’s energy use.
The stated goal of the campaign is to persuade the scattered collection of people who maintain the Bitcoin network to replace its energy-intensive mining process with a “proof-of-stake” system that requires much less electricity and is used by some other blockchains.
While Larsen is portraying his campaign as a potential feel-good moment, the reaction among many in the crypto community has been savage. Bitcoiners, in particular—already sensitive about their industry being unfairly singled out or subject to misinformation—were quick to denounce Larsen’s proposal, including longtime crypto expert Nic Carter, who responded with a “Gladiator” “thumbs-down” meme.
as a Bitcoin Node Operator and member of the Bitcoin High Priesthood that Controls the Protocol, I have duly considered Ripple’s and Greenpeace’s request to eliminate PoW from Bitcoin, and I hereby… deny it. pic.twitter.com/6QYziI2QYW
— nic ‘it’s over’ carter (@nic__carter) March 29, 2022
Meanwhile, the colorful founder of crypto research firm Messari, Ryan Selkis, blasted Larsen’s campaign as insincere, suggesting his real motivation was to promote Ripple’s native XRP currency. In a tweet, Selkis called Larsen a “Judas” for making billions in the crypto markets but then throwing Bitcoin under the bus.
Chris Larsen – who in a just society would be in jail for the bad faith investor misrepresentations he and his team made regarding their XRP sales – is spending money attacking the industry that created his ill gotten multi-billion dollar fortune. Judas.
— Ryan Selkis 📖 🖊🔑 (@twobitidiot) March 29, 2022
Jameson Lopp, a prominent Bitcoin personality, likewise questioned the sincerity of Larsen’s campaign, noting that it had failed to submit a proposal to the site Github, which people have used to suggest and implement changes to Bitcoin’s code.
A more surprising source of pushback came from Coin Center, a crypto research and advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that typically stays out of intra-crypto disputes. The group’s communications director, Neeraj Agrawal, used his influential Twitter account to question Larsen’s motives.
Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen is bankrolling a $5 million ad campaign calling on Bitcoin-friendly CEOs to switch the network to proof of stake.
Perhaps he prefers a world where CEOs can centrally control the future of a cryptocurrency network https://t.co/VsUKiyi0yu
— Neeraj K. Agrawal (@NeerajKA) March 29, 2022
Meanwhile, Coin Center’s Executive Director, Jerry Brito, pointed out that Larsen’s campaign was based on persuading 50 miners and developers to change Bitcoin’s code—a premise that history suggests might be totally unrealistic.
Eric Voorhees, the founder of crypto company ShapeShift and an influential figure from Bitcoin’s early days, likewise suggested that Larsen’s call to change the code was impractical and doomed to fail. Saying he has no qualms about “proof-of-stake” in principle, he pointed out that those who would be essential in making the change—longtime Bitcoin aficionados—would want no part of it.
I’m very open-minded to PoS as an alternative consensus mechanism to PoW, not because it’s “better” but because it’s different; different costs/benefits and different attack surface.
But no, Bitcoin should not consider it, and there is zero interest among Bitcoiners for it.
— Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) March 29, 2022
The opposition was not universal, however. Anthony Antonopoulos, an author who is widely respected in the Bitcoin community, responded to the objections of Muneeb Ali—another influential Bitcoiner—by noting that the blockchain did not require mining, also known as proof-of-work (POW), to succeed.
I believe the value of these systems is 100% in the individual humans with self custody, and security is in the number of independent replicas. Neither of those require pow.
— Composability T◎ly, 🇺🇸 (@aeyakovenko) March 29, 2022
Antonopoulos appeared to be in a small minority, though, especially as everyday Bitcoin fans piled on with criticism of Larsen’s proposal. Many of these responded with memes—crypto’s go-to communication method—to accuse Ripple and Larsen of spreading “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, doubt).
Larsen, meanwhile, appeared to be anticipate that his proposal would be met with hostility, apologizing to the communications team at Ripple for any headaches it would create for them.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that these efforts are mine alone. While I’m still Chairman of Ripple, the company is not involved in this campaign. (On that note, apologies to the Ripple comms team!)
— Chris Larsen (@chrislarsensf) March 29, 2022
At the end of the day, the fierce rejection of Larsen’s proposal by Bitcoiners suggests that a call for a shift to proof-of-stake would result in absolutely no change—other than to deepen the rift between Ripple and Bitcoin backers.
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