Bitcoin drives climate change

18 December 2017 8:21 am

Bitcoin is having a massive impact on the future of this planet.

It’s shaping up as an environmental disaster with a carbon footprint as big as New Zealand’s, and it’s growing. A year ago, Bitcoin was worth less than a thousand dollars per coin. It climbed to over $5000 per coin by mid-October. Today the price for a single Bitcoin has topped $20,000

What’s driving it is Bitcoin mining, the process that secures bitcoin and creates more of the cryptocurrency,

Every Bitcoin transaction requires a massive amount of computing power to pull off, and those calculations aren’t free.

As Digieconomist points out, mining provides a solid stream of revenue which means people are very willing to run power-hungry machines to get a piece of it. Over the years this has caused the total energy consumption of the Bitcoin network to grow to epic proportions, sending the price of the currency to new highs. The entire Bitcoin network now consumes more energy than countries like Denmark.

James Fernyhough in New Daily says if Bitcoin were a country, it would be the 60th-biggest consumer of electricity in the world, ahead of 160 other countries. In other words, Bitcoin is becoming a significant contributor to climate change.

“The total energy use of this web of hardware is huge—an estimated 31 terrawat-hours per year. More than 150 individual countries in the world consume less energy annually. And that power-hungry network is currently increasing its energy use every day by about 450 gigawatt-hours, roughly the same amount of electricity the entire country of Haiti uses in a year,” says Wired Magazine.

“In just a few months from now, at bitcoin’s current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the cryptocurrency network will start to outstrip what’s available, requiring new energy-generating plants. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies. By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

“This is an unsustainable trajectory. It simply can’t continue.”

The problem is that Bitcoin’s is there for speculation rather than the transaction. And that means the energy wastage serves little constructive social purpose.