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Bitcoin’s dirty little secret – its danger to the environment and the climate

Bitcoin’s dirty little secret: It’s not easy being green, The Age,

By Nick O’Malley and Chris Zappone, May 8, 2021 Depending on who you ask bitcoin, the digital currency at the heart of the crypto craze is either a currency or a commodity, a speculative bubble or a safe tool for storing and building wealth.

One thing everyone agrees on is that it has become a staggering consumer of energy and producer of climate wrecking carbon dioxide. Debate between its champions and detractors grows with its price and value, intensified by accelerating global efforts to tackle climate change.

Bitcoin supporters must now grapple with the reality that built into the cryptocurrency’s design is a seemingly endless demand for energy in the form of computing power.

……. “One of the biggest risks to the climate today is that people keep demanding more bitcoin,” says Macquarie University associate professor Sean Foley.

To understand why bitcoin requires so much energy, you have to understand how it is verified – in ever-growing banks of computer “mines”.

……… As each computer is in effect competing with the entire pool of computers engaged in proof of work, there is an incentive for miners to keep growing their banks of computers, especially when the value surges.

……. As the money has flowed, the enterprises engaged in mining are growing larger and moving into energy-rich but regulation-light environments like China, Russia and Iran in a race to confirm more calculations and “mine” more bitcoin.

In April 2020, about 65 per cent of all bitcoin mining in the world happened in China, according to figures from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, with a third of it in Xinjiang.

…………..The network of computers mining bitcoin across the world currently emits about 60mn tons of CO2, the same as the nation of Greece

………..Bank of America analysts say the rising complexity of transactions that underpin bitcoin is “the biggest flaw of the entire system” because this demands ever more power to function……….


May 8, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, ENERGY

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