On Monday, researchers came said that extracting a dollarâs worth of digital currency such as Bitcoin from the deep Web consumes three times more energy than looking for a dollarâs worth of gold.
There are now hundreds of digital currencies and an unknown amount of server farms around the world running around the clock to unearth them, more than half of them are in China according to a recent report from the University of Cambridge.
Obtaining cryptocurrencies with a real-world value can in other words, carry a hidden environment cost which is rarely measured or token into account.
A researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and lead author of a study in the journal Nature Sustainability, Max Krause said:Â Â âwe now have an entirely new industry that is consuming more energy per year than many countries."
Speaking to AFP, âin 2018, Bitcoin is on track to consume more energy than Denmark."
In 2015, Denmark used up 31.4 billion kilowatt hours in electricity and as of July this year, Bitcoin mining has alone used up around 30 billion kilowatt hours according to the study.
Mining Bitcoin takes up hundreds of linked computers running several intensive calculations in search of the internet equivalent of metals. This is something that can take days, weeks and even months and sometimes you may not see a result.
As mentioned by News24, new coins are awarded to those who complete the calculations first with the transaction confirmed and entered into the currencies shared public ledger which is known as blockchain.
Bitcoin amounts for more than half of the total market value of the top 100 cryptocurrencies which is arodun $215 billion according to CoinMarketCap.
"We wanted to spread awareness about the potential environmental costs for mining cryptocurrencies. Just because you are creating a digital product, that doesn't mean it does not consume a large amount of energy to make it."
Nowadays, everything has a cost on the environment, cars, vans, music, movies and videos that billion of people stream everyday as the earlier research has shown.
âA complete calculation of the environmental cost of virtual currencies would take into account the banks of computers used to mine them.â
âThe computers are made with gold and other precious metalsâ according to Krause who continued to say:
"They are run aggressively, which means the hardware is destroyed much quicker than you or I would expect for regular use â maybe a year instead of five or ten."
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