Bitcoin’s recent record highs risk increased environmental damage, according to new research. With the cryptocurrency reaching a record high of $6,600 in recent weeks, the sector is an increasingly tempting proposition for those inclined to invest in the outlay for a mining operation.
However, this is not the best news for those counting Bitcoin’s carbon footprint.
Recent research has highlighted the high cumulative energy cost produced by mining, with Digiconomist highlighting an industry-wide total outlay of 24.5Twh of energy. To foster an idea of scale, Nigeria is listed as the country of closest comparison for energy consumption [https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption], with such excess leading companies like Intel to search for a more efficient and sustainable blockchain alternative.
Bitcoin’s current commitment to the hashing process has been seen by many as the key contributor to the scale of this value, with the repeatedly checking and re-checking of character strings causing a staggering cost when viewed on a grand scale. Despite this, the current process for coin mining has been proven to be safe, reliable, and time-tested.
While hashing is undeniably wasteful, an annual return of $5.5bn against a $1.2bn energy cost for miners makes it extremely unlikely that operations will scale back in the near future. And, with a randomly sampled mine being responsible for the creation of an estimated 8,000 to 13,000kg of CO2 emissions per mined Bitcoin, [https://digiconomist.net/deep-dive-real-world-bitcoin-mine ] these are numbers that are simply going to continue to stack up.
So, with cryptocurrencies proving such a popular investment – with even the online giant Amazon buying up three distinct domains for their investment in the currency [ https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/01/amazon-buys-crypto-domains-bitcoin-ethereum.html] – maybe now is the time to start asking what effect the rise of this intangible currency will have on our very real planet?