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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 | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy, climate bullshit, and the push for hydrogen+fossil fuels.

Guardian 6th May 2021, So it’s goodbye climate deniers, hello – and you’ll pardon me for
being blunt here – climate bullshitters. The impacts of the climate
emergency are now so obvious, only the truly deluded still deny them.

Instead, we are at the point where everyone agrees something must be done,
but many are making only vague, distant promises of ineffective action. As
a result, we are currently on track for a 0.5% cut in global emissions from
2010 levels by 2030, when a 45% drop is needed to avoid climate
catastrophe. So how to spot this greenwash.

A good rule of thumb is whether
the proposal actually cuts emissions, by a significant amount, and soon,
and whether the proposer is in fact making the climate emergency worse
elsewhere. Let’s start at the top, with the world’s governments, which
have been setting out more targets than an archery competition. 

The global leader is the UK, which recently pledged a world-beating emissions cut of
78% by 2035. Targets are a necessary first step, but need action to be me
and the instant, universal response: “Show me the policies!” The
problem is some actual UK policies are pushing emissions up, not down:
massive road building, a scrapped home energy efficiency programme and
slashed electric car incentives, new oil and gas exploration, a failure to
halt airport expansions and block a new coalmine (instead, the government
belatedly ordered a public inquiry).

But it is not just Boris Johnson’s
government that says one thing while doing another. All are talking tough
on climate, but China is building one large coal-fired power station a
week, Japan remains one of the biggest Companies are, if anything, even
better bullshitters than governments, and the fossil fuel giants are

Many are still exploring for new reserves, when we already have
more than can ever be safely burned. Chevron touts capturing CO2 emissions
and storing them underground as a solution – one that of course enables
the continued burning of its products. But its plans for carbon capture and
storage cover less than 1% of its 2019 carbon emissions. ExxonMobil wants
public money to help with its carbon capture project to store 50m tonnes of
CO2 by 2030. That’s just 8% of the 2020 emissions its products resulted
in. Another technological fix promoted is hydrogen, , in theory a clean fuel
when generated using renewable energy.

But its most enthusiastic backers
are incumbent fossil fuel companies. Members of the global Hydrogen Council
include Saudi Aramco, BP and Total, while the UK parliament’s hydrogen
group is funded by Shell and gas network and boiler-making firms. Why?
Because hydrogen is a way for oil companies to move towards green energy
without giving up fossil fuels. Pierre-Etienne Franc, co-secretary of the
Hydrogen Council until 2020, explained: “It’s a way to avoid having
stranded assets from the current fossil fuel-based system.” financiers of
overseas coal plants and Norway is developing giant new oil and gas fields.

May 8, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment