Bitcoins are Carbon Pigs

Guest blog by S. A. Shelley: For several years, Bitcoins and similar digital currencies have been the rage, heralded as a true medium of exchange and value that is independent of government manipulation, as is seen with all fiat currencies. However, Bitcoins in particular have also generated rage amongst environmentalists because the energy consumption and carbon emissions required to support Bitcoins approach the total annual consumption of states like New York or exceed the total energy consumption of nation states like the Netherlands or Argentina.

For comparison, in Europe as of 2020 there was about 40 GW of offshore wind turbines installed. Depending upon the source, the production of every third or fourth of those wind turbines would be required to power all bitcoin mining in 2020.  Of course, advocates of Bitcoin claim that many of the mines (rows and rows of ASIC computers) run on renewable power.  I can think of better uses for that renewable power. Energy consumption for Bitcoin mining will only get worse as the number of Bitcoin mining operations keeps increasing; it takes more and more computers every year to mine the same number of Bitcoins.

Considering carbon emissions, it is just as horrible, if not worse. Every year 52,560 bitcoins are generated and in 2020 this produced over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions for every bitcoin mined. The average American passenger car emits only 4.6 tonnes of CO2 per year driving an average of 11,500 miles.  Think about that for a moment: One would need to remove about 11 million passenger vehicles from American roads in order to offset the carbon emissions generated by one year of Bitcoin mining.

It doesn’t end with one Bitcoin mined. The electronic blockchain ledger is also an energy hog and carbon pig. Again, analysis suggests that compared to other digital transactions, Bitcoin takes the prize, with just one Bitcoin transaction consuming as much power as the average American home consumes in 30 days (approximately 1100 kWh).

And  it’s going to get worse. Governments are now planning to launch their own digital currencies (the Economist and Washington Examiner). Quoting the Economist article: “These ‘govcoins’ are a new incarnation of money. They promise to make finance work better but also to shift power from individuals to the state.” Thus, we’re going to get a double whammy out of this, more carbon emission and energy consumption and more government control and overwatch of everything that we do. What is wrong with cash currency? Corruption? Graft?  It’s not the middle or poor class that have that luxury, it is the domain of the ruling elite class and one only needs to look at the current Federal Government in Canada to see how that manifests and ruins a democracy. (L’etat ce n’est pas toi, Monsieur Premier ministre).

Though I believe in the utility of blockchain technology, Bitcoins are a prime example of how progressive zeal for the adoption of new technology is, in the reality of this universe, very regressive and horrible for the planet. The reason that so few people object to Bitcoin is because so many people have or see only a little slice of Bitcoin; Divide poop into enough small pieces and nobody will notice the stench.  Or they just don’t understand the technology and cannot comprehend the consequences. Just say no to drugs?  No, better to say no to Bitcoins.

Vive l’Alberta Libre

Shut Down Line 5!

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