Is bitcoin harming the planet?
Study Suggest Bitcoin and Carbon Are Too Close Together
According to a new study, bitcoin’s energy consumption is equivalent to that of the city of Las Vegas, Nevada and the country of Sri Lanka. On its own, bitcoin produces approximately 22 megatons of carbon emissions each year. This number doubles when all the remaining cryptocurrencies are accounted for.
This is an argument that has swelled throughout the cryptocurrency space for some time. In fact, China has even put out a list of things it’s considering banning, as these items potentially hurt the atmosphere. One of those items is bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining, though to be fair, this has been on the list for a lengthy period and no action has ever been taken.
The authors of the report say that local regulators have the potential to curb bitcoin mining emissions. The study suggests the following:
Coal is fueling bitcoin. The question is how to prevent it, and that’s up to local regulators.
The good news is that the emissions discussed in the report are considerably less than what the authors originally thought they would be. At the same time, they are still asking “key mining regions” to take the emissions seriously and take necessary steps to lower them further.
Overall, the amount of carbon emissions produced last year from the burning of fossil fuels was equal to about 37 billion tons. One of the study’s writers, Christian Stoll, is very concerned about climate change, and while he says there are bigger problems contributing to changes in weather and the Earth’s overall climate, the burning of fossil fuels is not to be taken lightly. He explains:
There are bigger factors contributing to climate change. However, the carbon footprint is big enough to make it worth discussing the possibility of regulating cryptocurrency mining in regions where power generation is especially carbon-intensive.
He and his fellow researchers claim that most of the carbon emissions are coming from regions of Asia. This isn’t a surprise. Countries like South Korea, the Philippines and China are massive bitcoin and cryptocurrency havens, which explains why most of the expelled energy would be here. At the same time, mining rigs are also prominent in Canada and certain parts of the United States thanks to lower energy bills. Thus, virtually every corner of the world appears vulnerable in some way.
Is The Data Accurate?
Not everyone is convinced by the report’s findings. Bitcoin researcher Alex de Vries wasn’t involved in the study but says that bitcoin transactions are relatively rare when compared with the transactions that occur through major credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard. He wonders if the methods utilized to comprise the data are flawed, commenting:
The folks in this study were very conservative on the energy side.