A New Global Warming Threat: Bitcoin

Global Warming

Yup, bitcoin and global warming, they go hand in hand, as uncomfortable as that feels.  We know how enamored everyone has become of bitcoin of late, and we’ve been onboard the bitcoin train for years now.  BUT – has anyone stopped to wonder how all that digital currency mining works?  Here’s a clue – it’s powered by ELECTRICITY.  A whole lot of it.  According to the website Digiconomics, by 2019, the international bitcoin infrastructure will require more electricity than the entire United States, and by 2020, than the entire planet.  So, love it – like we do – but realize it also pollutes.  Sobering, isn’t it?
(Cindy Taylor/Publisher)

Let me freak you out for a second. You know what bitcoin is, right? I mean, no, but quickly, it’s a “cryptocurrency” that’s basically secret computer money. One bitcoin, which doesn’t actually have a real, physical form, is worth at this moment upwards of $16,000. But to get one, you either have to buy them from online exchanges or use specialized computing hardware to “mine” it. That last bit is where the freak-out comes in.

In a report last week, the cryptocurrency website Digiconomics said that worldwide bitcoin mining was using more electricity than Serbia. The country. Writing for Grist, Eric Holthaus calculated that by July 2019, the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network—remember BitTorrent? Like that—would require more electricity than all of the United States. And by November of 2020, it’d use more electricity than the entire world does today.

That’s bad. It means Bitcoin emits the equivalent of 17.7 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, a big middle finger to Earth’s climate and anyone who enjoys things like coastlines, forests, and not dying of mosquito-borne diseases. Refracted through a different metaphor, the Bitcoin P2P network is essentially a distributed superintelligence utterly dedicated to generating bitcoins, so of course it wants to convert all the energy (and therefore matter) in the universe into bitcoin. That is literally its job. And if it has to recruit greedy nerds by paying them phantom value, well, OK. Unleash the hypnocurrency!

The idea of bitcoin still has the whiff of genius—a digital currency as untraceable and trustworthy as cash, unfettered from nationality and physicality, with egalitarianism and access built into its philosophical and technical firmware. But the reality, exposed by bitcoin’s remarkable run-up in value over the last three months, is that the science may not hold together. Which isn’t to say people aren’t trying to fix it…”

Full Story at Wired.com