EarthTalk Researchers Say Bitcoin Mining Can ‘Bankrupt the Planet’s Climate’ Due to Carbon Emissions
According to a study conducted Manoa researchers at the University of Hawaii, the projected usage of bitcoin could produce enough CO2 (carbon dioxide) to push global warming well above 2 degrees in less than 30 years.
And to avoid cataclysmic effects associated with global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that this can only be possible if the average temperature rise remains below 2 degrees.
Problem – Massive Electricity Requirement!
Bitcoin and other cryptos generate a lot of carbon dioxide because they use a huge amount of electricity, which is majorly supplied by fossil fuels. In regards to this, the co-author of the research, Randi Rollins stated that:
“The verification process by miners, who compete to decipher a computationally demanding proof-of-work in exchange for bitcoins, requires large amounts of electricity.”
According to Rollins, in 2017 alone, transactions related to bitcoin were responsible for CO2 emissions account to about 69 million metric tons. He expects this number to increase sharply in the coming years as more companies and individuals adopt bitcoin as a payment system.
Camilo Mora, the research’s lead author noted that:
“We cannot predict the future of Bitcoin, but if implemented at a rate even close to the slowest pace at which other technologies have been incorporated, it will spell very bad news for climate change and the people and species impacted by it….With the ever-growing devastation created by hazardous climate conditions, humanity is coming to terms with the fact that climate change is as real and personal as it can be…Clearly, any further development of cryptocurrencies should critically aim to reduce electricity demand, if the potentially devastating consequences of 2 degrees Celsius of global warming are to be avoided.”
So, How Can This Be Solved?
Every technological innovation comes with benefits and downsides. For cryptocurrencies, the idea of a virtual currency that’s not controlled by any government has been welcomed immensely.
Better yet, blockchain technology, which is the tech that powers crypto, has been adopted by major companies, with its uses spanning across every industry. But the problem of electricity usage and carbon emissions still remains a challenge.
To counter this manufactures specializing in mining rigs are going back to the drawing board to come up with rigs that are more energy efficient, cutting the power requirement significantly. Better still, mining companies are starting to use renewable energy such as solar in place of electricity, which means that carbon emissions are cut down to zero.