Bitcoin and Its Ecological Impact: Truth and Delusions
While cryptocurrency miners keep insisting that their actions are not that bad for the environment, most eco-warriors are concerned about the huge amount of energy needed to maintain mining processes. Big brains of the world (Elon Musk specifically) seem to support ecological initiatives and speak up for emissions reduction.
Who is actually right?
The Negative Effects of Bitcoin Mining
In decentralized networks, the process of “mining” is defined as a validation of digital currency transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency units as a reward.
What does decentralization mean? Bitcoin’s public ledger is not controlled by any authority or government but by a unique network operated by miners who use their computers to solve complex mathematical equations. Once another math puzzle is solved, a transaction goes through, and a new Bitcoin is mined.
Decentralization, anonymity, and the ability to make easy money literally out of nothing may appeal to some people. There is, however, a huge price that needs to be paid: Bitcoin transactions are extremely demanding in terms of computational power and hence, the energy supply.
There is a widespread fear that energy-related greenhouse gas emission will increase as a result of the growing number of mining centers and independent miners. This fear did emerge for a good reason: the allure of the solid stream of revenue, which can be obtained from Bitcoin mining, caused an epic growth in the total energy consumption.
Bitcoin Boosts the Popularity of Green Energy Initiatives
There are always two sides of the same coin. The current malign influence of mining over the environment is indeed visible, but miners have already started looking for cheaper and more eco-friendly sources of energy.
According to the study published in “Nature Communications,” by 2024, Chinese mining centers will consume tremendous amounts of electricity and will eventually produce the largest portion of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
However, during the dry season, a significant number of Chinese miners migrate from the South to the North of the country, where fossil energy sources predominate.
According to various sources, more than 40% of energy used by miners is derived from renewable sources. Besides solar and wind energy, there is also a promising option of obtaining energy from petroleum gas.
Ecological Mining Is a New Trend
Today more people (even miners) are concerned about ecology. American mining centers try to be less reliant on carbon and focus on environmental methods of energy extraction.
The concentration of miners in Mongolia and many other countries with rich coal reserves is gradually decreasing. Powerful industry players tend to support ecological initiatives in order to reduce the carbon footprint left by the Bitcoin rush and to make the cryptocurrency environment green over the next 10 years.
A great number of mining centers are located in countries with frigid climates. Iceland is famous not only for its low temperatures but also for cheap electricity fueled by geothermal sources. A significant number of mining facilities are located in Canada, where 67% of electricity is generated with renewable sources.
Is Bitcoin So Harmful?
It seems that all the sources accusing Bitcoin mining of destroying our planet are not fair enough. Minimization of costs is on the agenda of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, who are hungry for cheaper renewable resources. Given the encouraging eco-trends and China’s restrictive measures against the mining centers’ activity, there is a hope that the world will turn its back on “dirty” energy sources.
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