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Mozilla temporarily stops crypto donations over climate impact concerns

Change in course follows outcry from some Mozilla and Gecko founders.
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Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on
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By Jiap -- Shutterstock

Mozilla started off 2022 thinking it was making an innocuous call for donations in the form of cryptocurrency on Twitter. Mozilla was wrong.

Responding to the tweet days later and calling out the browser maker were Jamie Zawinski and Peter Linss.

"Hi, I'm sure that whoever runs this account has no idea who I am, but I founded Mozilla and I'm here to say fuck you and fuck this," Zawinski said. "Everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters."

Linuss was no less withering in his criticism.

"Hey Mozilla, I expect you don't know me either, but I designed Gecko, the engine your browser is built on. And I'm 100% with [Zawinski] on this. What. The. Actual. Fuck. You were meant to be better than this," he said.

Before the week was out, Mozilla was changing course.

"Last week, we tweeted a reminder that Mozilla accepts cryptocurrency donations. This led to an important discussion about cryptocurrency's environmental impact. We're listening, and taking action," it said.

"So, starting today we are reviewing if and how our current policy on crypto donations fits with our climate goals. And as we conduct our review, we will pause the ability to donate cryptocurrency."

Mozilla said decentralised technology was still going to be an area to explore but that "a lot has changed since we started accepting crypto donations".

The browser maker said its review would be transparent and it would be making regular updates.

See also: Not a token further: Could backlashes spur ways to bring crypto-cowboys to heel?

The energy usage involved in the process of computers yelling numbers at each other, which is also called proof of work cryptocurrency mining, has increasingly raised concerns.

In November, Swedish authorities called for an EU-wide ban on the practice.

"It is currently possible to drive a mid-size electric car 1.8 million kilometres using the same energy it takes to mine one single Bitcoin," Swedish regulators said.

"This is the equivalent of forty-four laps around the globe. Nine-hundred Bitcoins are mined every day. This is not a reasonable use of our renewable energy".

Earlier this week, Kosovo banned cryptocurrency mining to curb energy consumption in an effort to ease short and long-term energy shortages.

The annual usage of electricity used to power Bitcoin is said to be 134 TWh, around the same output as Argentina, and enough to negate the global carbon savings from using electric vehicles.

On Wednesday, Chromium-based browser Vivaldi responded to a user asking it to not follow Mozilla.

"We really aren't fans of crypto and NFT's [sic]," Vivaldi said.

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