A Heavy Environmental Toll
Bitcoin is an impressive technological innovation that carries with it a heavy environmental burden. Indeed, crypto-currencies now soak up some serious energy consumption! Seen as a safe-guarded and independent alternative to state-backed currencies, crypto-currencies like Bitcoin are an attractive source for investor speculation. Crypto-currencies have plenty of features that make them appealing. Their carbon footprint however is not one of them.
As indicated by their recent dramatic valuations, interested parties are looking to take part in what might be a monetary transformation. It certainly sounds cool and pretty revolutionary! Unfortunately, it’s also currently failing to consider the very real impact it has on the climate crisis.
Whether or not Bitcoin turns out to be truly revolutionary, its existence requires energy, and loads of it! In fact, the drive for expanding and maintaining the Bitcoin network is currently consuming a colossal amount of energy. Of pressing concern is the staggering amount of CO2 emissions generated by this energy demand.
Fueling the Fire
The resulting environmental impact is pretty significant. Recent reporting (check out The Digiconomist) puts the energy consumption as quickly approaching 80 TWh (terrawatt hours). To give you some perspective, that’s greater energy consumption that some entire countries. Indeed, Bitcoin recently overtook the Czech Republic, Chile, and Austria in energy usage, and projections anticipate the demand to only continue increasing.
To compensate for this incredible energy demand, some server suppliers have decided to move to regions that are better supplied by renewable energy. An excellent initiative to be sure, but more needs to be done to understand the role that these currencies are to play in our world. At what point should carbon-emitting energy consumption be capped, if at all?
There’s certainly a lot to consider. Whether or not you think Bitcoin represents an incredible technological break-though, it’s clearly demanding a lot from our environment. This strain also happens to be taking place during a critical period of global climate change. We know that we’re running low on time when it comes to dealing with the climate crisis.
This summer has seen a record number of heatwaves across the planet! Along with the heat, energy needs have been skyrocketing. This was especially true during peak hot and humid hours. Given the considerable energy demands we already have, simply to stay cool and refrigerated during the blistering months, is it truly wise to have to competing for energy resources with Bitcoin? What do you think?