According to a recent study conducted by Bloomberg, the amount of energy used for crypto and bitcoin mining purposes in 2021 already outdoes all the energy used in 2020, and we’re not even three quarters of the way through the year.
Crypto Mining Is Using a Lot of Electricity
Some environmentalists are taking this as a bad sign. It suggests that people are not only mining more but may be increasing the carbon footprint that already stems from the mining industry. So far this year, bitcoin mining has surpassed the 67TWh of electricity used over the previous year.
The study explains:
By the end of this year, it looks set to have used 91TWh of energy – as much as Pakistan.
The problem likely comes from the spikes that the bitcoin price has incurred in recent months. Last April, for example, the currency rose to its highest point of $64,000 per unit. This prompted many additional people to step into the cryptocurrency mining sector in the hopes of garnering riches for themselves. However, many of them do not possess energy-efficient machines, and thus contribute more to the carbon emissions that are released into the atmosphere when digital currencies are extracted from the blockchain.
The arguments against digital currency mining have taken serious precedence over the past several months, and many high-ranking individuals in the space have ultimately emerged to suggest that the problem is more dire than originally thought. One of the biggest arguments stems from Elon Musk, the South African entrepreneur behind billion-dollar companies such as Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk commented about six months ago that he was looking to allow individuals to purchase electric vehicles with bitcoin. However, not long after, he rescinded this decision, claiming that he could not vouch for such a move until emissions were lowered and miners made greener decisions.
In addition, Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank” fame commented that he was no longer seeking to purchase bitcoin mined in China given that the country did not engage in energy-efficient extraction methods. From there, China engaged in a whole “mining exodus” agenda designed to get crypto miners out of the country and allow China to become more carbon neutral.
Some Think Things Aren’t So Bad
Despite all this, bitcoin mining continues to earn defense from notable figures in the bitcoin and blockchain spaces. One of the biggest arguments in favor of mining comes from Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO and founder of popular crypto trading platform FTX. He stated in a recent Twitter battle with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren that the hazards of mining do not compare to the great benefits bitcoin can bring to modern-day society.
Others – such as Yassine Elmandjra of Ark Investment fame – see the impact of bitcoin mining as a good thing, as it will allow companies and project managers to transition faster to renewable energy.