You might not associate Bitcoin and the environment, but Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist believes that everyone with an interest in the future, and fossil fuels should start paying attention, and quickly, as he believes that there is actually a link between the two.
The value of Bitcoin has recently reached an all-time high, with the price of a single Bitcoin hitting nearly $15,000. When Bitcoin was first introduced, they were just $100; however, those who invested in them then would be sitting on a hefty profit, presuming that they have not spent any over the years.
The chances of this happening though is fairly slim, as it was not introduced as an investment instrument, it was designed as a complete replacement for money. Despite this crypto-currency increasing dramatically in popularity, it is safe to say that it has not completely replaced traditional forms of payment, and this could be because they underestimated how much energy the computer network behind Bitcoin would use, which is having a detrimental effect on the environment.
Eric Holthaus says,
“Bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition away from fossil fuels…Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, Bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse.”
The problem that we are facing is that Bitcoin is rising in popularity, as a new and modern way to make payments, yet humanity is actually decades behind schedule on counteracting climate change. This is why Bitcoin is having a negative impact, as the world has simply not done enough to combat climate change as a whole.
Cryptocurrencies have created a huge demand for computing power, as the mining process is becoming more and more complicated, as a way on controlling the supply of the currency. Today, each Bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the US for one day. The computing power of the entire Bitcoin network is nearly 100,000 times larger than the world’s 500 fastest computers combined.
Because it uses such as huge amount of energy – an estimated 31 terawatt-hours every year; it pulls energy from grids all across the world, where this energy could be put to better use. The increased popularity has even caused blackouts in some countries, and desperate miners are seeking unorthodox ways of using energy that will not cost them huge amounts of money.
Eric Holthaus has predicted that in just a few months, the electricity will run out, which will require new energy-generating plants. He has predicted that;
“By July 2019, the Bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. By February 2020, it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.”
The above prediction is based on Bitcoin popularity rising as it is today. So what can be done to combat this? There are certain efforts already underway to try and combat this increased energy use, focusing on the way in which Bitcoins are mined. This combined with other technological advances should slow the detrimental effect that it is having. But, the question on many people’s lips is…is it already too late?
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