Mozilla’s decision to allow people to donate to them in cryptocurrency really turned me off.
There was a time when I considered Firefox to be my absolute favorite browser. When I started using it a few years ago it was because I started losing interest in Safari. Firefox, which was created and maintained by Mozilla, offered me privacy features that appeared to be more robust than what Safari offered.
At the time I am writing this blog post, the Mozilla website has a chart that compares Firefox privacy features to Safari’s. Both block third-party tracking cookies by default. Both block autoplay. Both block social trackers. Firefox also has some additional features that it sounded like Safari lacked, including an in-browser screenshot tool and a primary password.
Mozilla describes Firefox this way: “Get all the speed and tools with none of the invasions of privacy. Firefox Browser collects so little data about you, we don’t even require your email address to download. That’s because unlike other browsers, we have no financial stake in following you around the web.”
It sounded as though Firefox was better than Safari, and I switched over. All the bookmarks I’d left in Safari were abandoned, and I began adding new bookmarks into my Firefox browser. For the most part, things were going well. I was happy with Firefox, and my impression of Mozilla was that it was doing good things.
Imagine my disappointment when, on December 27, 2021, Mozilla posted a tweet about cryptocurrency.
@mozilla tweeted: “You don’t need to be Elon or Mark to transact in @dogecoin. We’re accepting #cryptocurrency donations via @BitPay. Donate now to support our mission to keep the Web open and free”. The tweet included a link to Bitpay.com.
And just like that… I decided to dump Firefox and return to Safari.
The first thing I did was export all the bookmarks I had saved on Firefox into Safari. Doing so felt good, because it meant I wouldn’t lose any of them simply by switching to Safari. Since then, I’ve been slowly picking through the bookmarks in Safari and deleting the ones that were duplicates. Sorting them out will take some time. I no longer had any desire to keep Firefox around while I sifted through the bookmarks, and I deleted Firefox as soon as the bookmarks transferred over.
As you may have guessed, I’m not a fan of cryptocurrency because it is bad for our planet. Columbia Climate School posted a State of The Planet article titled: “Bitcoin’s Impacts on Climate and the Environment” on September 20, 2021. It was written by Renee Cho. Here’s a small piece of the article:
…With hundreds of thousands of more computers churning out guesses, Bitcoin is thought to consume 707 kWh per transaction. In addition, computers consume additional energy because they generate heat and need to be kept cool. And while it’s impossible to know exactly how much electricity Bitcoin uses because different computers and different cooling systems have varying levels of efficiency, a University of Cambridge analysis estimated that bitcoin mining consumes 121.36 terawatt hours a year. This is more than all of Argentina consumes, or more than the consumption of Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft combined…Columbia Climate School
Investopedia posted an article titled: “What’s the Environmental Impact of Cryptocurrency?” on December 21, 2021. It was written by Nathan Reiff, reviewed by Erika Rasure, and fact checked by Vikki Velasquez. From the article:
…The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index indicates that Bitcoin, the most widely-mined cryptocurrency network, uses 122.87 Terawatt-hours of electricity every year – more than the Netherlands, Argentina, or the United Arab Emirates. According to Digiconomist, a cryptocurrency analytics site, a single Bitcoin transaction uses 2,106.37 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which equals the amount of power consumed by the average American household over 72.2 days.
Digiconomist estimates that the Ethereum network annually uses 99.6 Terawatt-hours of electricity – more power than is required by the Philippines or Belgium. A single Ethereum transaction required 220.05 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is the same amount of power that an average U.S. household consumes in 7.44 days…
…According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin mining generates about 96 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year – equal to the amounts generated by some smaller countries. Mining for Ethereum produces more than 47 million tons of carbon dioxide annually…Investopedia
Mozilla itself posted an article titled: “Mozilla’s Climate Commitments” on its website on January 21, 2021. It was written by Cathleen Berger. From the article:
“In these disruptive, crisis-ridden times, our attention is often captured by the immediate political and technical challenges right in front of us. Facing the climate crisis and ensuring that there is a habitable planet for us and future generations to continue fighting these fights is not something that can be pushed to the back seat. I, and Mozilla, are committed to protecting the environment.” – Mitchell Baker, CEOMozilla
The article included Four Climate Commitments:
Mozilla is firmly committed to being carbon-neutral.
Mozilla will significantly reduce its GHG footprint year over year aligning to, and aiming to exceed, the net zero emissions commitment of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Mozilla commits to leading openly by sharing materials, tools, and methodologies.
Mozilla will explore approaches to develop, design, and improve products from a sustainability perspective, including seeking collaborations to further amplify effect.
Reading that now, it appears that Mozilla did not really mean what it wrote in that article. One cannot claim to be “committed to being carbon-neutral” while encouraging people to mine cryptocurrency that harms the environment.
On January 6, 2022, @Mozilla posted a short thread on Twitter. It was obviously an attempt to let people know that it was aware that it “got ratioed” after asking people to donate to it in cryptocurrency.
The thread started with: “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 1/4”
“Decentralized web technology continues to be an important area for us to explore, but a lot has changed since we started accepting crypto donations. 2/4”
“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. 3/4”
“In the spirit of open-source, this will be a transparent process and we’ll share regular updates. We look forward to having this conversation and appreciate our community for bringing this to our attention. 4/4”
At the time I am writing this blog post, it appears that Mozilla has removed the BitPay link from its donations page. That’s a start, but it doesn’t mean that Mozilla won’t decide to go ahead and put the BitPay link back again. I’m very disappointed in Mozilla, and cannot help but wonder how many other people dropped Firefox like a hot potato.
Why I Broke Up with Firefox is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.
If you enjoyed this blog post please consider supporting me on Ko-fi.