After a mysterious white paper was published nearly a decade and a half back, in 2008, the concept of viewing currency as a piece of paper had been thoroughly demolished and replaced by something very magnificent. Yes, I am talking about Bitcoin. It has been considered one of the most advanced technological achievements due to its unyielding potential that can improve the world’s prosperity to a whole new level.
But no matter how assuring any service is, it has its own cons. In this instance, although it is a tremendous technological feat, Bitcoin is directly affecting flora and fauna around us. So, it all comes down to one question, are we ready to strive for a better economy at the expense of our planet’s already dying health?
So, does Bitcoin mining harm the environment?
Although it might come as a bit of a shock to you, it is no less than a fact that Bitcoin relies profoundly on a highly energy-intensive process, which you might know as Bitcoin Mining. What is Bitcoin Mining, you ask? Well, it is the method by which Bitcoins are, to put it simply, ‘manufactured’ and launched into circulation. This requires the ‘miners’ to solve a very sophisticated mathematical problem using supercomputers (or mining machines) which are all bound together through the crypto network.
Many publications have reported that Bitcoin generation consumes more electricity than some countries’ annual power consumption, and this should not be taken as a joke! Statistics say Bitcoin mining utilizes nearly 100 and a quarter TWh (Terrawatt Hour) a year! These machines require high energy to run, apart from the tremendous amount of power they utilize to cool down. Although nearly 40% of the power they utilize is from replenishable sources, the rest (around 60%) is from fossil fuels, and it is a no-brainer that this is unhealthy for the environment.
According to recent studies, most crypto miners of the world dwelled in China (nearly 70%), followed by countries like the US, Russia & Kazakhstan. China, because of the inexpensive power that they derive from hydroelectric plants during the wet months of the year and coal plants during the dry months. The latter of which is a very sloppy source of energy that aids rising temperatures. However, out of fear, China put an end to mining due to its colossal power consumption and because it deemed it dangerous due to it expediting illegal financial ventures.
Researchers have issued predictions that crypto and its show of power is not going to conclude anywhere in the near future. With that being said, it practically means that as the price of Bitcoin soars, more miners (or mining machines/farms) will extract it to get rewards.
Apart from all this, it also produces thousands of tonnes of e-waste (Electronic waste) every year. This is primarily because the supercomputers use hardware that is rendered useless/outdated after nearly a year and a half of their usage, hence posing a question about their disposal.
In the end, it is pretty evident that crypto, although it isn’t used by everyone currently, is already affecting the environment. Regardless of you being a crypto advocate/anti, you cannot deny the hold it has on today’s money-minded generation while also being an indirect pollutant. Though you have not directly felt the tremors of its consequences, Abkhazia underwent a series of temporary power cuts about a year ago. And the one reprehensible for these events was, as you already know – Bitcoin Mining.
Although crypto utilizes replenishable energy sources more than any other industry on the planet (which is pro?), one might imagine that the same power could have been helpful in other areas instead. Now we all wait for either side of the balance to tip until we know what’s next.