In March 2021, Greenpeace partnered with art activist Benjamin Von Wong for its “change the code, not the climate” campaign to convert Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism to a proof-of-stake (PoS) model. The campaign aims to pressure Bitcoin developers, miners, and the government to move Bitcoin from proof-of-work to PoS to reduce the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.
As part of the campaign, Greenpeace commissioned an art piece called the “Skull of Satoshi,” an 11-feet-tall skull made of recycled electronic waste featuring the Bitcoin logo and red laser eyes. The smoking stacks on top of the skull represent the fossil fuel and coal pollution caused by Bitcoin mining.
Unexpectedly, the art piece was widely praised by Bitcoin supporters, with some even adopting it as a quasi-mascot. Will Foxley, the media strategy director at crypto miner Compass Mining, called the art piece “badass” and changed his Twitter profile picture to an image of the Skull of Satoshi. Coin Metrics co-founder Nic Carter tweeted that the art is the “most metal Bitcoin artwork to date.”
However, some Twitter users criticized the imagery chosen by Greenpeace, with one user saying that the smokestacks on the skull’s head resembled nuclear cooling towers emitting steam.
Greenpeace’s “change the code, not the climate” campaign was launched around a year ago alongside other climate groups and Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen. The campaign claims that 30 “key” entities could move Bitcoin from proof-of-work to PoS if they agreed to the change.
Bitcoin mining has faced criticism for its high energy consumption and carbon footprint. Currently, Bitcoin uses a proof-of-work consensus mechanism that requires a vast amount of computational power and energy to validate transactions and add them to the blockchain. Proof-of-stake, on the other hand, requires far less energy consumption and has a lower carbon footprint.