Bitcoin Users are Killing the Planet

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Sep 30th



University of New Mexico researchers find Bitcoin mining is environmentally unsustainable and are comparable to energy-intensive products such as crude oil, natural gas, and beef.

If Bitcoin were to be adopted at a global scale for payments the destruction to the environment would be worse than all of the historic crude oil being used in combustion engines. Worse, is that fanboys of Bitcoin are using a common tactic deployed by global enterprises to cover their bad environmental behavior, by suggesting they are improving sustainability over time.

“We find no evidence that Bitcoin mining is becoming more sustainable over time,” said UNM Economics Associate Professor Benjamin A. Jones. “Rather, our results suggest the opposite: Bitcoin mining is becoming dirtier and more damaging to the climate over time. In short, Bitcoin’s environmental footprint is moving in the wrong direction.”

Between January 2016 and December 2021, Jones and colleagues Andrew Goodkind and Robert Berrens presented economic estimates of climate damages from Bitcoin mining. reporting that in 2020 Bitcoin mining used 75.4 terawatt hours of electricity (TWh), which is more electricity used than Jamaica, Cambodia, Luxembourg, Panama, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and Denmark combined.

The researches found that the CO2 equivalent emissions from electricity generation for Bitcoin mining have increased 126-fold from 0.9 tonnes per coin in 2016, to 113 tonnes per coin in 2021. Calculations suggest each Bitcoin mined in 2021 generated 11,314 US Dollars (USD) in climate damages, with total global damages exceeding 12 billion USD between 2016 and 2021. The calculation suggest for every 1 Euro of Bitcoin market value spent, created or traded you were causing 1.56 Euro in global climate damage.

This environmentally irresponsible behavior from the “Bitcoin Bro’s” is accelerating the world towards a global environmental tragedy.

“Across the class of digitally scarce goods, our focus is on those cryptocurrencies that rely on proof-of-work production techniques, which can be highly energy intensive,” said Regents Professor of Economics Robert Berrens. “Within broader efforts to mitigate climate change, the policy challenge is creating governance mechanisms for an emergent, decentralized industry, which includes energy-intensive POW cryptocurrencies. We believe that such efforts would be aided by measurable, empirical signals concerning potentially unsustainable climate damages, in monetary terms.”

Which means digital currency in itself is not the problem, it is the proof-of-work production coins vs proof-of-Stake coins that are the planet killer. The most prominent blockchain platform that uses PoW is Bitcoin, however, other blockchains like Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin, Monero, and Litecoin also use proof of work.

Ethereum 2.0, Cardano and Tezos use proof-of-stake to validate transactions and are therefore on the surface of it a more sustainable alternatives to the planet killers, such as bitcoin.

The original research can be found here : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-18686-8

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