The Environmental Case Against Bitcoin
Mining the cryptocurrency requires a staggering amount of energycontributing to global warming and providing little public benefit. Bitcoin is the Worlds Hottest Currency, but No Ones Using It, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed on Saturday. The day prior, the digital currency had surged past $10,000 per coinand then past $11,000, too. But despite Bitcoins value, the paper explained, brick and mortar stores have been slow to accept it as a method of payment. Thus, some observers are becoming pessimistic about whether this tech-hipster cryptocurrency, which everyone has heard of but most people dont truly understand, will ever replace traditional currency. I dont think it will be a currency, bitcoin investor Alex Compton told the Journal. If people use it as a currency, it will lose value as an investment. No one may be using Bitcoin, but were all paying for them. Bitcoin analyst Alex de Vries, otherwise known as the Digiconomist , reports that the coins surge caused its estimated annual energy consumption to increase from 25 terawatt hours in early November to 30 TWh last weeka figure, wrote Voxs Umair Irfan, on par with the energy use of the entire country of Morocco, more than 19 European countries , and roughly 0.7 percent of total energy demand in the United States, equal to 2.8 million U.S. households. (As of Monday, the figure had reached nearly 32 TWh.) Just one transaction can use as much energy as an entire household does in a week, and there are about 300,000 transactions every day. That energy demand is more often than not met through fossil fuel energy sources, which, along with polluting air and water, emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In other words, Bitcoins are contributing to the warming of the atmosphere without providing a significant Continue reading >>
Is Bitcoin An Environmental Hazard?
Currently bitcoin consumes as much energy as Bulgaria. By some estimations, by mid-2019, it will be consuming enough electricity to power the United States. Bitcoin "mines" solve complex mathematical problems as part of the bitcoin transaction process. As a result they produce large amount of heat and consume mass amounts of power, enough to power one U.S. household for almost 10 days per transaction. (Bahador Zabihiyan/Radio-Canada) Bitcoinhas recently skyrocketed in popularity and value andmining operations are popping up all over the world, including in Canada. But the huge amount of processing power required to mine the cryptocurrencyhas some concerned this growing industry will be a disaster for the environment. All of this coal-based electricity is going into the bitcoin network and coal electricity has a massive carbon footprint "I would say it's roughly comparative to running a vacuum cleaner in my kitchen 24 hours a day," says Drew Taylor, a Montreal bitcoin miner. Taylor has two specialized super-computers needed to keep up in bitcoin mining which is essentially arace to solvethe complex math riddles that underpinthebitcoin network, in return for new coins. Bitcoin is a virtual currency with no central authorities, like banks or governments, controlling or regulating it. (Getty Images) "Right about now, [bitcoin is using] almost 37 TWh per year, which is the electricity consumption of a country like Bulgaria," says Alex de Vries, a data consultant and creator of The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index . "The real shocker here is that the bitcoin network only processes 350,000 transactions per day. So if you average out the number per transaction ... [that's equivalent]to the power needed for one U.S. household for almost 10 days." At the current rate, de Vries s Continue reading >>
Bitcoin: Environmental Impact And Solutions
Some Background History About the Cryptocurrency The root problem with conventional currencies is all the trust thats required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Satoshi is the person or the group of persons behind the concept of Bitcoin. These words couldnt be truer. Perhaps, thats why theres much support for Bitcoin. The Bitcoin whitepaper was fundamentally a political document born out of the ideas of the Cyberpunk community in the early 90s and has since attracted many followers with mainly libertarian and anti-establishment ideologies. These groups saw Bitcoin as means of destroying the monopoly of the State over the issuance of currency and the money supply in general. Libertarian views formed the core philosophy of the group who, even today, believes in the idea that society would be better off with either no government or very minimal government. At the core of the libertarian ideology is the individual, or rather, the individual freedom. Libertarians usually go out of their way to point out that with individual freedom comes great responsibility. Are We Being Responsible? Have We Lost Our Core Values? He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.-Friedrich Nietzsche Bitcoins consensus algorithm is an ecological catastrophe and it seems like nobody is talking about it. All we seem to care about is the increasing price of Bitcoin and HODL-ing. The community that was born out of anti-establishment and libertarian ideas has metamorphosized into the sole enemy it was trying to fight against. Im propagating the destruction of our planet for the sole Continue reading >>
Before You Join The Moral Panic About Bitcoin Destroying Our Environment, Remember That Cash Could Be A Whole Lot Worse
Before you join the moral panic about bitcoin destroying our environment, remember that cash could be a whole lot worse Low denomination coins especially which depend on the mining of zinc ore and all its damaging by-products have a serious enough impact on the environment that a number of countries have started pulling them entirely A bitcoin ATM could still be more environmentally friendly than the cashpoint on the high street AFP/Getty Perhaps fuelled by deep frustration at not having jumped on the cryptocurrency bandwagon a few years ago, Ive come to realise that people love hating bitcoin. Social media users are delighted by stories about the prospect of a regulatory bitcoin ban and when its value tumbled from lofty heights a few weeks ago, Twitter was abuzz with memes and GIFs created by cynics thrilled by the slide. Lately, a new idea has kept those scoffers entertained. Headlines this week announced that Iceland will apparently use more electricity mining bitcoin this year than it will for powering its homes.As well as financing the worlds criminal networks, exacerbating global wealth inequality and facilitating the emergence of a destructive robot revolution, bitcoin it seems is now also melting our ice caps and killing polar bears. The end probably really is nigh. But not so fast. Despite being the first person to make a snide remark about bitcoin , theories of environmental calamity fuelled by cryptocurrency-mania have always seemed a little taken out of context to me. So I did a bit of digging and heres what I found. Theres no denying that the electricity used for mining these neoteric codes could devastate the world around us. But so might the energy we use for sending emails all day, watching Netflix all night, driving cars short distances, flying around Continue reading >>
Bitcoin Is Terrible For The Environment
This story was originally published by New Republic and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Bitcoin is the Worlds Hottest Currency, but No Ones Using It, theWall Street Journal proclaimed on Saturday. The day prior, the digital currency had surged past $10,000 per coinand then past $11,000, too. But despite Bitcoins value, the paper explained, brick and mortar stores have been slow to accept it as a method of payment. Thus, some observers are becoming pessimistic about whether this tech-hipster cryptocurrency, which everyone has heard of but most people dont truly understand, will ever replace traditional currency. I dont think it will be a currency, bitcoin investor Alex Compton told theJournal. If people use it as a currency, it will lose value as an investment. No one may be using Bitcoin, but were all paying for them. Bitcoin analyst Alex de Vries, otherwise known as the Digiconomist , reports that the coins surge caused its estimated annual energy consumption to increase from 25 terawatt hours in early November to 30 TWh last weeka figure, wrote Voxs Umair Irfan, on par with the energy use of the entire country of Morocco, more than 19 European countries , and roughly 0.7 percent of total energy demand in the United States, equal to 2.8 million U.S. households. (As of Monday, the figure had reached nearly 32 KWh.) Just one transaction can use as much energy as an entire household does in a week, and there are about 300,000 transactions every day. That energy demand is more often than not met through fossil fuel energy sources, which, along with polluting air and water, emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In other words, Bitcoins are contributing to the warming of the atmosphere without providing a significant public benefit in retu Continue reading >>
Bitcoins Energy Usage Is Huge We Can't Afford To Ignore It
Bitcoins energy usage is huge we can't afford to ignore it The cryptocurrency uses as much CO2 a year as 1m transatlantic flights. We need to take it seriously as a climate threat Last modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 11.54EST Bitcoin mining computers are pictured in Bitmains mining farm near Keflavik, Iceland.Photograph: Jemima Kelly/Reuters Bitcoins electricity usage is enormous. In November, the power consumed by the entire bitcoin network was estimated to be higher than that of the Republic of Ireland. Since then, its demands have only grown. Its now on pace to use just over 42TWh of electricity in a year, placing it ahead of New Zealand and Hungary and just behind Peru, according to estimates from Digiconomist . Thats commensurate with CO2 emissions of 20 megatonnes or roughly 1m transatlantic flights. That fact should be a grave notion to anyone who hopes for the cryptocurrency to grow further in stature and enter widespread usage. But even more alarming is that things could get much, much worse, helping to increase climate change in the process. Burning huge amounts of electricity isnt incidental to bitcoin: instead, its embedded into the innermost core of the currency, as the operation known as mining. In simplified terms, bitcoin mining is a competition to waste the most electricity possible by doing pointless arithmetic quintillions of times a second. What is bitcoin and is it a bad investment? Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, cryptocurrency a decentralised tradeable digital asset. Whether it is a bad investment is the big question. Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censo Continue reading >>
Bitcoin's Energy Use Is Out Of Control ... But Maybe That's The Point?
Research Associate in Speculative Design, Lancaster University Mike Hazas receives funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Mike is part of the DEMAND Centre, which receives funding from the RCUK Energy Programme and EDF as part of the R&D ECLEER Programme. Mike is also part of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster. Bingsheng Zhang receives funding from EPSRC on the "PETRAS: Self-Sustained Blockchain-based Treasury System" project. Joseph Lindley does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The soaring value of bitcoin is encouraging more and more companies and individuals to engage in mining. Mining is actually a process which secures the distributed bitcoin network, and processes all of its transactions. Historically anyone could do this using a standard PC, but these days hardware that is purpose-built for more energy-efficient mining is a necessity to mine profitably. Every ten minutes miners across the globe compete to the be the first to solve a mathematical puzzle. The winner gets the block reward, which is currently 12.5 bitcoins (at the time of writing worth more than US$200,000). As the amount of mining activity increases, earlier concerns about bitcoins global energy consumption have become all the more prescient. However, its difficult to accurately estimate just how much energy is used, what the unit cost of that energy is, or whether its source was renewable. Nonetheless, one ongoing estimate says the total energy consumption of bitcoin adds up to almost 4GW (Gigawatts). That means the digital currency uses roughly as much energy as bulgaria. Yet even this i Continue reading >>
The Hidden Cost Of Bitcoin? Our Environment.
The Hidden Cost of Bitcoin? Our Environment. Bitcoin mining reportedly accounts for more energy consumption than many of the world's nations. The environmental effect of this activity can't be overlooked. Bitcoin might feel a bit like gold lately, but its rise has not made it very green. In November, a report was published that indicated that activity related to the cryptocurrency exceeded the energy consumption of 159 countries around the world. I think its a massive problem, said Alex de Vries, author of the report on Bitcoin energy consumption, in an interview with Futurism. Were basically consuming thousands of times more energy for something we can already do at the moment we can already do transactions, we dont have to use bitcoin if we trust our current system. I dont see how bitcoin justifies its energy use at the moment, given that most people do have a certain level of confidence in the current system. However, it may be reductive to look at the energy consumption of bitcoin mining purely at the surface level. The real issue is the fact that a large proportion of the electricity used is generated via fossil fuels . A great deal of mining takes place in China, where coal is comparatively cheap, despite the governments efforts to phase it out in favor of renewable resources . But even if the cryptocurrency were to be mined using renewable energy, would the problem be solved? Nadine Damblon is the co-founder of a startup called HydroMiner that specializes in bitcoin mining using hydro power stations . According to her, the energy situation is a little less dramatic than it might seem. Basically, we see an old argument here, she said in email to Futurism. People used to say that the streets would be no longer usable because they would be covered in horse manure n Continue reading >>
Bitcoin Growth Sparks Debate On Environmental Impacts
Bitcoin growth sparks debate on environmental impacts In this photo taken on Jan. 17, 2018, a worker walks along a row of computer rigs that run around the clock mining bitcoin inside the Genesis Mining cryptocurrency mine in Keflavik, Iceland. Hand in hand with the rise of bitcoin is a soaring cost of mining the cryptocurrency. The energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing the cryptocurrency, which requires computers solving math formulas to mine the 4.2 million coins still available. (AP Photos/Egill Bjarnason) In this photo taken on Jan. 17, 2018, Helmut Rauth, the director of Genesis Mining poses for a portrait next to a row of computer rigs that run around the clock mining bitcoin in Keflavik, Iceland. Hand in hand with the rise of bitcoin is a soaring cost of mining the cryptocurrency. The energy demand has developed because of the soaring cost of producing the cryptocurrency, which requires computers solving math formulas to mine the 4.2 million coins still available. (AP Photos/Egill Bjarnason) Large clouds of steam rise into the sky from the Svartsengi geothermal power station in Grindavk, Iceland. With massive amounts of energy needed to obtain bitcoins, large cryptocurrency mining companies have established a base in Iceland. Egill Bjarnason/Associated Press The growth of bitcoin is fueling speculation and debate about the environmental impact of the energy needed to power the virtual currency in the era of climate change. Some questions and answers about the issue: Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the world, and it has fluctuated significantly in value over the past year. It was created in 2009 as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks that are capable of devaluing currency. The su Continue reading >>
Bitcoin Has Less Environmental Impact Than Fiat Currencies
Bitcoin Has Less Environmental Impact Than Fiat Currencies Bitcoin mining burns less energy than gold mining, fiat currencies and data centers. The risks of environmental impact because of Bitcoin mining have been widely touted, but a recent report indicates that the actual damage from Bitcoin mining may well be far less than that associated with fiat currencies and other industries. Data centers, gold mining and cash production all consume substantially more energy than Bitcoin mining. The report indicates that the annual consumption of power from Bitcoin mining is 8.27 terawatt-hours per year, more than Ireland and other small nations. Nevertheless, this number is actually only an eighth of what data centers in the US consume annually, and the global production of fiat currencies stands at 11 terawatt-hours per year. Gold mining burns a staggering 132 terawatt-hours per year. Whats more, these numbers dont even include the massive amount spent on vaults, banks, security systems and more to keep the physical cash and precious metal safe. The environmental impact of Bitcoin mining has been widely touted, particularly by those who believe it to be a non-legitimate currency, but it appears these accusations are more fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), rather than actual facts. These reports do not take into consideration the actual costs of other types of value production, all of which consume resources. In point of fact, Bitcoin consumes less energy than its non-digital equivalents Continue reading >>
The Environmental Impact Of Bitcoin Mining: An Exploration
The Environmental Impact of Bitcoin Mining: An Exploration 2017 ignited a cryptocurrency boom that is showing no signs of slowing down. While mainstream adoption of Bitcoin and other digital currencies continues to rise, many people have started to question the environmental impact of mining. Critics have honed in on Bitcoins carbon footprint, arguing that mining is a huge waste of energy that is damaging to the environment. While resource consumption is a valid concern, it is important to look at the facts and put things in perspective. Mining today requires specialised Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) hardware to handle the computationally intensive processing needed to solve blocks, or verify transactions and add them to the blockchain. These machines run hot and use a significant amount of electricity to perform the complex calculations involved in mining. As a result, the Bitcoin network uses an increasingly substantial amount of electricity to maintain the blockchain- by some estimates, around 32TWh per year, or roughly as much as Denmark . That sounds like a lot and it is but when one looks at these figures in context, they quickly see that other large networks are carrying similar baggage. For example, Google emits 1.5 million tonnes of carbon annually, on par with the United Nations. The data centres relied on by the worlds more than 1 billion smartphone users are responsible for 1.5% of the worlds total electricity consumption. This is not to say that simply because other widely used technologies also consume many resources that Bitcoins environmental impact is not an issue, but rather to illustrate that the issue is not specific to Bitcoin. There is no question that the Bitcoin network is, indeed, using a huge amount of electricity. The environ Continue reading >>
The Bitcoin Boom May Be A Disaster For The Environment - Dec. 7, 2017
Related: What on earth is going on with bitcoin? Unlike the dollar or the pound, these virtual "coins" aren't tied to a central bank. Instead, bitcoins are "mined" by computers in vast data centers that guzzle huge amounts of energy. Bitcoin uses about 32 terawatts of energy every year, enough to power about three million U.S. households, according to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index published by Digiconomist, a website focused on digital currencies. By comparison, processing the billions of Visa ( V ) transactions that take place each year consumes the same amount of power as just 50,000 American homes, according to Digiconomist. Related: Millions of dollars may have been stolen in bitcoin hack More worryingly, Bitcoin's energy demands are set to explode. "As bitcoin grows, the math problems computers must solve to make more bitcoin get more and more difficult," which means more processing power is needed, Holthaus wrote. And he made a startling forecast: Without a significant change in how transactions are processed, bitcoin could be consuming enough electricity to power the U.S. by the middle of 2019. Six months later, that demand could equal the world's power consumption. The fact that most bitcoin is mined in China is also fueling the environmental concerns. Related: Bitcoin bubble brewing is it still a bargain? The country's hinterlands have proved attractive for the data centers that bitcoin mining requires because "electricity and land are very cheap," researchers at the University of Cambridge wrote in a recent study . A lot of the energy in provincial China comes from inefficient, coal-fired power plants that were built in anticipation of big construction projects that never happened, according to the researchers. Digiconomist reported that the energy dem Continue reading >>
How Is Bitcoin Affecting The Environment?
How is bitcoin affecting the environment? The growth of bitcoin is fueling speculation and debate about the environmental impact of the collective energy needed to power the virtual currency in the era of climate change. Some questions and answers about the issue: A bitcoin itself is essentially a line of computer code. It's signed digitally when it goes from one owner to another. The price of bitcoin exploded in 2017, surging from less than $1,000 at the beginning of the year to $13,483, according to tracking site Coindesk. Bitcoin is believe to have been created in 2009 by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks that are capable of devaluing currency. Bitcoin is the most popular of more than 1,000 "cryptocurrencies" that have emerged in recent years, with digital monies like Dash, Ethereum and Litecoin also seeing a massive jump in price . Prominent economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Wall Street bankers say the bitcoin market is a bubble. The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued warnings about the risk of investing in bitcoin and other digital currencies. In the meantime, major U.S. exchanges have started trading in bitcoin futures . The sustainability concerns about bitcoin, voiced by economists and environmentalists, stem from the process of "mining" that is central to its existence. The "miners" use computers to make complex calculations that verify transactions in bitcoins. This uses a tremendous amount of energy via computers and server farms all over the world, which has given rise to concerns about the amount of fossil fuel-dependent electricity used to power the computers. Some estimates say bitcoin's energy impact is more than that of a small country. Bitcoin is a Continue reading >>
Bitcoins Price Crashed, But Its Still Devouring An Obscene Amount Of Energy
Bitcoins price crashed, but its still devouring an obscene amount of energy Electricity consumption from Bitcoin rose to a record high of 47 terawatt-hours this week. This is not what an actual bitcoin looks like. Bitcoin is plummeting, with the price of a coin falling from a December high of $19,500 to $8,242 as of Tuesday morning. The crash came a day after Wall Street got its own long-overdue correction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 4.6 percent on Monday, the worst point drop for the index ever. Bitcoins peaks and valleys over the last six months Last years soaring Bitcoin prices led to a huge speculation frenzy , but now coin holders are rattled . Facebook is banning ads promoting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, while banks including Citigroup, Bank of America, Capital One, and Discover have stopped Bitcoin purchases on credit. Some Bitcoin enthusiasts and market analysts believe this is the start of a true crash , including Nouriel Roubini, a professor at New York University who is one of the worlds most well-known economists. As expected Bitcoin now crashes below $6000. Now the $5K handle is reached. And the US Congressional Hearing on Crypto-Scams is still a day away. HODL nuts will hold their melting Bitcoins all the way down to ZERO while scammers and whales dump and run... Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel) February 6, 2018 (HODL is Bitcoin lingo for hold on for dear life, referring to coin holders that dont want to sell in hopes of a rebound.) But others say the current decline is a typical seasonal event. Here I tweet again the course of Bitcoin the last 4 years. January: Bitcoin went down the last 4 years. February: Bitcoin went up in mid-February. Daagle [Hashgraph vs. Blockchain] (@Daagle23) February 3, 2018 The drop in price, though, hasnt had m Continue reading >>
The Environmental Impacts Ofbitcoin
Wait, how can digital currency affect the environment? Despite being called a hoax by figures such as Jamie Dimon, Bitcoin has continued to grow to over $18000. On top of being feared as a bubble or a tool for criminals, the cryptocurrency has also generated considerable concern for environmentalists. Despite its virtual nature, Bitcoin mining requires a massive amount of processing power and in turn, energy. According to Digiconomist , Bitcoins estimated annual electricity consumption as of December 18th was 34.86 TWh. To put that into perspective, if Bitcoins network were a country, it would rank 60th in terms of global energy consumption, on par with the nation of Bulgaria. The energy used by a single Bitcoin transaction could power the average U.S. household for eight days. This daily consumption of power translates to 118.36 kg of CO2 being emitted per transaction, or 11083 kilotons annually. If we follow the EPAs estimate that the average car emits 4.7 metric tons of CO2 each year, then Bitcoin has the same environmental impact as approximately 2.358 million cars annually. These statistics have caused many environmentalists to fear the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as they are creating emissions and hindering the fight against global climate change. It is clear that the current processes are not sustainable, and they will only get worse. To put it simply, as more and more Bitcoins are mined, the mathematical problems that computers must solve to generate more Bitcoin will get increasingly difficult, requiring even more processing power as a result. (To learn more about how mining works, check out fellow WCT members Derek and Andy W.s presentation here !) On top of the amount of energy required to mine Bitcoin, the way it is sourced only threatens th Continue reading >>