Environmental benefits of Safe Network

Reducing energy use is a key benefit of Safe Network, so this topic is to collect examples which can be used to promote these benefits.

This post is a Wiki so you can add to the following list, as well as reply to the topic:

  • energy consumed by spam email (I’m not sure if this tweet is accurate so need verifying)
  • energy consumed per transaction (be good to estimate this and compare with Bitcoin and other decentralised or legacy systems).
  • de-duplication of stored data (h/t @JimCollinson)
  • others???

Spam email:

120 trillion spam emails are sent every year. Each one creates .3g of CO2. That’s 36 million tons of CO2. You’d have to plant 3.6 billion trees every year just to deal with spam. The hidden cost of free. The Cloud is on the ground. (14/06/21, tweet)

The author of that tweet has responded saying he’s interested to follow how SN develops and provided a link to his source for the energy consumption of spam:

Gerry has also kindly provided a link to a study on energy efficiency of different programming languages:

TL;DR: Rust comes out very well along with C/C++


Your note on the other thread about offloading BTC transactions to the Network via DBCs seemed a killer mitigation strategy short term too; while we gradually replace it :grinning:

Also, de-duplication in general.


From an environmental methodology point of view the issue is whether or not to take an averaging or marginalist approach (I believe that the original vision of SAFE would represent squeezing more margin out of assets and thus favor a marginalist approach)

The difference, in a nutshell is do you count up the consumption of producing and using the computing resources, estimate a percentage used for SAFE and call consumption that? Or do you take the difference in power consumption it takes to run SAFE on top of existing resources and call it that? Here there is probably one to two orders of magnitude difference in the result you will get.

It will come down to how much is dedicated hardware vs a docker container you throw on an underutilized NAS, how one measures the cost of say bandwidth (again, averaging or marginal?) etc.

It may be a good marketing ploy, but absolutely extremely difficult to throw up a credible methodology for this question.


I agree it is difficult, and will require work by others with far more understanding and expertise than me to do so, but I don’t think it is a ‘ploy’ to demonstrate that there are benefits and try to estimate them. It’s an important to find ways that people, businesses and governments can help mitigate an enormous threat.

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Perhaps ploy was the wrong word, I do fervently believe that SAFE is a vast step forward on the environmental front. I just have an allergic reaction to questionable methodology, and making environmental claims about computing resources is about the hardest problem out there. I’d be super happy to assist any attempt to quantify impacts along these lines.

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The key is “only what is needed to achieve the result.”

We can debate a bit as to the difference between how efficiently dedicated and otherwise-under-utilized resources are used, and there probably IS a difference. But I don’t think that’s the key point.

The point is that the SAFE Network design is to use only those resources that the network needs to do the job required of it, including a margin for safety and security. People can try to throw lots of excess resources at it, but the network will only use what it needs. The others lay fallow, except for attempts to join.

Bitcoin is basically a gold rush. Anyone can throw in all the resources they can afford, to try to get their piece of the pie. That ever-growing excess is REQUIRED as part of the bitcoin security model. Very cool if that’s all you’ve got. Better than the waste and degeneration and corrupting control of central banking, but it’s basically intentionally wasteful. “We’re going to collectively do what we want, however wasteful, rather than what we’re collectively coerced to do by the masters of money and central control” is at least a major part of the spirit of bitcoin.

Blunt tools are better than none, but compared to the SAFE Network vision and execution, that’s very blunt.

I think that part of the design of all blockchain efforts, as well as SAFE, is to deliver a set of tools that are beyond price, in the most efficient way available. Bitcoin is GREAT! But in the long run, SAFE should deliver far more and better tools, far, far less wastefully.


We live in a duality. We are doing everything we can to rush toward the precipice of doom.

At the same time, we are rushing toward the peak of transformative innovation.

Its a race!

Many world changing technologies are coming online as we speak, not in succession, put in parallel. In this way the question of carbon producing abusive networks will likely become irrelevant as green energy adoption explodes, and decentralized networks go public.

The only question left is which scenario will win the race?

The fact is that I can farm on low powered machines, when BTC mining needs the opposite. And anyone can join in the framing, whereas BTC mining is now only for those who can afford the investment. It’s a simple equation, and easy to explain. The Safe Network not only benefits the environment, it benefits the people.


Worth noting that this metric is less and less meaningful as layer 2 networks grow. It is not possible to know how many transactions occur in the lightning network for example.


It remains to be seen, but possibly:

  • Reduced material consumption, because otherwise outdated (or just unused) hardware is still good enough to serve as a node.

The marginal consumption is the easiest to test. I will write a script to spam the network with transactions. Next testnet I will measure the wall draw of my NAS, then load a SAFE VM and run the script. The number that go through over (the difference in power draw x time) will give the results. I expect a figure in the range of hundreds+ of transactions per Wh. It’s the bad methodology I hate, but one could compare to the current figure of roughly 200 kWh/BTC transaction. Lets say they up the block size to 10 MB, just to even it out, that’s still 20 kWh/transaction.

I’d say 6+ orders of magnitude improvement while providing countless ancillary services would be an improvement, but I’ll get back with the exact figure.