Bitcoin - an environmental disaster?

The environmental wastefulness of bitcoin mining is pretty much laid bare in this article. Personally I’m finding it harder and harder to morally justify.

What do you guys think? Is the environmental price worth the potential benefits of Bitcoin?

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Hi AL! I was discussing this aspect with Greg @stackem just some day ago here Nori: Carbon Removal Market 🌎 .
From the time i began investing some in crypto, I always avoided to put money in BTC for its GIGANTIC environmental footprint.

Greg made some good point in explaining to me that nowadays, the mining pool’s energy is produced from renewable resources. What I try to clarify into myself is IF this huge energy consumption, is justified under this light OR is it not…

…I am pondering like someone who is almost convinced but not so sure about his new belief…
It is very good indeed that green energy gets used but is it really right? mumble mumble…my wallet says yes but my heart says no…ahahahahah

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I feel your pain mate :grin:.
The best figures I could find is that Gold production used about 132TWh per year and FIAT money (producing and printing) around 15TWh.
This is only the production figures though, the true energy consumed in distribution, armoured vans & guards, storage, redistribution, handling etc etc is going to be massively more.
Tech will get better at harnessing cheap renewable energy, in fact Peter Thiel (Pay Pal co-founder and one of the biggest VC guys around) is funding a mining farm in Texas, hardly a cold state, but possibly the windiest as it’ll be supplied by wind turbines. They will be submerging the chips in a special liquid which will dramatically help in cooling compared with air cooling and using proprietary ASICs . The project expects to sell back to the grid excess energy.
This is just one example of many, if you break it down it seems Bitcoin is environmentally better than FIAT, probably on any level. Definitely not an environmental disaster Stefano :grin:

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Media hype I’m afraid. It’s not how much energy is used, it’s how it’s produced

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This is actually a very good argument!! I had never put BTC blockchain consumption in coparison to the FIAT…very good argument indeed!!!

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Hi @Tradelta

well…not really. We are really comparing apples and coconuts here. Fiat has a massive global use case and is used by nearly every human being on the planet. What is bitcoins use case? other than a store of value (sometimes :sweat_smile:) and trading back and forth to make money. Furthermore, it is used by less than 0.5% of the population (and that’s assuming all 36 million wallets in use are owned by different people) So I would argue that the environmental damage it causes is done with significantly less justification.

I read that same report to which is being referred to, written by Coinshares. Hardly an unbiased source of investigative journalism. linked if you want to read.

Id questions quite a few of their points as well.

A 2018 report from the [University of Cambridge] (https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/research/centres/alternative-finance/downloads/2018-12-ccaf-2nd-global-cryptoasset-benchmarking.pdf) for example, found that while the majority of bitcoin mining facilities drew on renewables to some extent, the average share was just 28 percent.

Let’s talk about that ‘green’ energy again for a second…anyone who knows a bit about green energy will tell you that often these kinds of facilities are backed by fossil fuels to account for dips of seasonal variability, particularly in China. Also, why are the mining facilities near the power stations? because it is cheap. So equally if fossil fuels become cheaper then one can assume that the move would be made quickly back to fossil fuels.

Nor does it mention the fact that ASIC mining machines generally have a very short life span, when obsolete the machines are useless and so not only does their production cause huge environmental damage the frequency of purchase and the amount of machines purchase grows exponentially as the tech gets cheaper and the mining difficulty higher. So there is a huge carbon cost here too.

In areas like Mongolia where the power usage is almost 100% fossil fuels. life in the capital city of ulaanbaatar, where more than 46% of the population lives. Pollutiion has created a thick cloud of smog causing all kinds of illnesses to its inhabitants and the problem of bitcoin minin undoubtedly does not make that better

image
Ulaanbaatar

I agree with @stackem on his points on the wastefulness of production of fiat money, one of the reasons Id like to see us move towards a cleaner, greener financial system such a credit and debit cards, contactless payment technology or one of the many other up and coming methods of payment that cause significantly less environmental damage. My point on Bitcoin was not to say it was the worst cause of environmental catastrophe. Just that it was another in a long list of crimes currently commited by society and one, it would seem to me, we could do without.

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Furthermore, it is used by less than 0.5% of the population (and that’s assuming all 36 million wallets in use are owned by different people)

Not bad for a nascent technology thats only been around for a decade! :wink:

I read that same report to which is being referred to, written by Coinshares. Hardly an unbiased source of investigative journalism. linked if you want to read.

Agreed, might seem biased but then you’ve quoted a daily newspaper, which is not unknown to sensationalize things for a story and which incidentally quotes out dated source material. As I mentioned previously, the tech is moving really fast the ASIC’s now are much more efficient.

https://www.bitcoininsider.org/article/9988/ludicrous-analysts-debate-how-much-power-consumed-bitcoin-transaction

Unfortunately there’s no getting away from the coal fired power stations that China uses, and Mongolia is a prime site for them as it’s the cheapest option for the Chinese government, but your right, Mongolia could do without it.
However, production is slowly growing away from China, the Layer 1 project, Peter Thiel, eventually want to realise around 30% of global hash rate to off set the Chinese dominance.

Apart from the flare capture I’ve previosly mentioned - Full Story - the Paraguayan government has sanctioned the worlds largest clean Hydro-electric mining project called Golden Goose. From geo-thermals in Iceland to solar farms in the Mojave desert, scaling of green renewable energy for mining is out pacing the dirty option.


500MW Generator at Ciuadd del Este

Nor does it mention the fact that ASIC mining machines generally have a very short life span, when obsolete the machines are useless and so not only does their production cause huge environmental damage the frequency of purchase and the amount of machines purchase grows exponentially as the tech gets cheaper and the mining difficulty higher. So there is a huge carbon cost here too.

To be fair, any processor based electronics has a short life span which just gets superseded, all technologies are prone to this. Bitcoin isn’t going any where for a long time, the stark facts about the global financial position is I think more than enough reason to need it, and it’s a fair bet that in the near future that 0.5 % of the population will be considerable more, but that’s just my take on it. :grinning: :pray:

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Unfortunately, the issues don’t stop there though mate. The very fact that as you have said Chinese Bitcoin Farms are fueled by hydroelectric power is an issue in itself. A recent study in new scientist found that they produce up to 150% the amount of carbon dioxide as a coal plant, Being ‘green’ energy is a bit of a misnomer I am afraid, the biomass decomposition these huge hydroelectric dams cause also produce large amounts of methane gas which, as the article you linked rightly states, is a massive environmental issue as well (although 25 times is a bit sensational, i believe it is closer to 21 times, let’s just agree it’s not great :grin:) and Im afraid the Itaipu damn, that you mentioned in your post is no different although, admittedly, its pooled water to power output is much better than other dams in south America

Yes they do, you’re 100% right there mate but most processor-based electronics aren’t bought and stored in huge farms meaning they need to be bought en masse and regularly to make matters worse. Id also reiterate my point from the previous post that i am not by any means saying that Bitcoin is the worst source of environmental damage, just that it, most assuredly, is.

Last point id make is that I wholeheartedly agree that any move towards a ‘greener’ and less wasteful bitcoin mining process is very welcome but the issue again here is we are talking about something that may/will happen in the future. This does not address the damage already caused or the damage that will be caused during these projects completion.

The word ‘Green’ gets bandied about a lot these days, in the case of power plants I am afraid the only way they fall into this category is that they do not use a fossil fuel source. The dirty truth is there isnt a way to draw large amounts of power and not cause some kind of carbon or environmental damage.

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Agreed guys, Bitcoin is not the ideal solution but yet it is far more environment friendly than any other “money” out there.

just look at the other needs we have on a daily basis and effects to the world we living in. During hard times like that might change some behaviors we have maybe.

Consider each social junk postings effects to the world, all spam emails, video stream on demand etc.

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Also factor in games consoles … worse than BTC. No one mentions this, next few months it’ll be worse too.

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Bitcoin Mining is great way of growing of business trading,
But due to higher consumption of electricty.
Thisis being degrading it value no.w

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