The Negative Environmental Impact of Bitcoin

Alan L. Johnson

Bitcoin has emerged as a real alternative for standard currencies worldwide. For people that are in volatile parts of the world economy like Africa or South America, Bitcoin has been called the best hope yet to stabilize their savings in times of hyper inflation and political instability; but are we sacrificing monetary security for the health of our environment?

According to Science Alert the environmental impact of Bitcoin may be much worse than we thought and one of the largest catalysts for global warming. In fact, researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa crunched the numbers and came up with:

A projection of how much electricity Bitcoin might demand if the cryptocurrency starts to take off and gain more widespread appeal – and that 20-year estimate is a relatively conservative one. If Bitcoin use gathers pace at the speed that emerging technologies like credit cards and smartphones did, the team reports, we could see a global warming of 2 degrees Celsius as early as 2033.

In fact with the recent news from the IPCC it puts our use of cryptocurrency into focus. Should we be aggressively moving into a currency that uses so many resources towards computational power? Is the trade off from traditional paper that beneficial? The researchers further looked at the power efficiency of computers typically used to mine Bitcoin, the geographic location of Bitcoin mining operations, and the CO2 emissions involved in generating electricity in those countries and found that:

The situation is already pretty bad: the use of Bitcoins in 2017 was responsible for some 69 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions, the team worked out.

While the use case for Bitcoin is overwhelming for the majority of the developing words it directly affects these parts of the world the most as warming of the planet dramatically affects countries near the equator. Could this human invention to help preserve personal wealth and liquidity turn into a major cause of global warming? The results seem to point to yes. What will happen next to make the energy needed more renewable and less centralized on non renewable resources remains to be seen.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What are your thoughts about Bitcoin?

Q2. Is Bitcoin something you are invested in; why or why not?

Q3. What do you think should be done about the global warming catalyst being created by Bitcoin?