Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bitcoin and climate change (I)

Devourer of Worlds: Bitcoin’s energy use got studied, and you libertarian nerds look even worse than usual | Grist - Eric Holthaus:

May 17, 2018 - "Bitcoin’s energy footprint has more than doubled since ... six months ago.
It’s expected to double again by the end of the year, according to a new peer-reviewed study out Wednesday. And if that happens, bitcoin would be gobbling up 0.5 percent of the world’s electricity, about as much as the Netherlands.

"That’s a troubling trajectory, especially for a world that should be working overtime to root out energy waste and fight climate change. By late next year, bitcoin could be consuming more electricity than all the world’s solar panels currently produce — about 1.8 percent of global electricity, according to a simple extrapolation of the study’s predictions. That would effectively erase decades of progress on renewable energy....

"Beyond its tentative success ... bitcoin has an increasingly real-world cost. The process of 'mining' for coins requires a globally distributed computer network racing to solve math problems — and also helps keep any individual transaction confidential and tamper-proof. That, in turn, requires an ever-escalating arms race of computing power — and electricity use — which, at the moment, has no end in sight. A single bitcoin transaction is so energy intensive that it could power the average U.S. household for a month.

"A fluctuating bitcoin price, along with increases in computer efficiency, has slowed the cryptocurrency’s energy footprint growth rate to 'just' 20 percent per month so far in this year. If that keeps up, bitcoin would consume all the world’s electricity by January 2021.

"That simply won’t happen — government regulators would surely come to their senses by then — but it is a sign of bitcoin’s disastrous growth rate....

"It’s a telling social phenomenon of late capitalism that we are willing to construct elaborate computer networks to conduct secure transactions with each other — and in the process torpedoing our hopes at a clean energy future."

Read more: https://grist.org/article/bitcoins-energy-use-got-studied-and-you-libertarian-nerds-look-even-worse-than-usual/
'via Blog this'

Also read: Bitcoin and climate change (II)

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