Although it may seem like something digital shouldn’t harm the environment, it actually isn’t true. Bitcoin is rising in popularity across the globe and while they do hold many advantages, their cons include a certain negative impact on the environment.
To better understand this, let’s go to the experts, and here’s what they say;
- Bitcoin Mining Is Very Energy-Intensive
In order to mine bitcoin, powerful computers need to solve puzzles based on a proof-of-work algorithm. According to one estimate, mining bitcoin requires 70 TWh of energy per year, similar to that of a country like Bangladesh or Sweden. If all of that were powered with renewable energy, it would be less of a problem.
However, China is still the No 1 bitcoin mining country, and we know that China is still very reliant on coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. A material percentage of bitcoin mining is likely still powered by fossil fuels.
Further, even if bitcoin mining was powered by renewables, there is a risk that it would be taking away resources from other energy-intensive activities (e.g., utilities that deliver electricity also use renewables.)
As a result, bitcoin mining is highly detrimental to the environment, and it’s not surprising that Elon Musk said that Tesla would stop taking Bitcoin as payment.
Lana Khabarova, the Founder of SustainFi
- Electronic Waste
As gear becomes obsolete, bitcoin mining generates a substantial amount of electronic waste. It is especially true for Application-Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, specialized hardware used to mine the most popular cryptocurrencies.
The environmental impact of a large number of cryptocurrencies is insignificant. Proof-of-stake blockchains, such as EOS and Cardano, do not require mining, allowing transactions with the same amount of energy as a traditional computer network to get completed.
Bitcoin and other proof-of-work blockchains consume a lot of power. Although bitcoin enthusiasts have stated that renewable energy sources are also important, much of the energy is burning coal and other fossil fuels. Moreover, even the most optimistic scenarios show that mining contributes to carbon dioxide emissions.
Katherine Brown, Founder & Marketing Director Spyic
- Power-Consumption, Pollution Caused by Coal, and E-Waste
Almost 65% of Bitcoin mining facilities are located in regions(mainly China), relying on cheap and small tax coal-based facilities or hydroelectricity with high environmental pollution impacts. Coal accounts for 38% of Bitcoin’s mining power. According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance survey, Inner Mongolia alone holds about 8% of computing power; meanwhile, the USA records 7.2% of global bitcoin mining.
Apart from huge amounts of power consumption, the Bitcoin network generates a significant quantity of electronic waste(e-waste). The reason behind e-waste is mainly caused by how specialized Bitcoin mining hardware works, which becomes obsolete approximately in 1.5 years. While manufacturers keep increasing energy efficiency in advanced mining devices, older machines get pushed out of the market. In recent years, Bitcoin has produced over 11-kilo tons per year of electronic waste.
Harriet Chan, Co-Founder and Marketing Director at CocoFinder.
On the Other Hand…
Yes, Bitcoin mining does have an impact on the environment, as Bitcoin and most cryptocurrency mining is energy-intensive. But the real question is- what doesn’t have an impact on the environment? If we take a look at what Bitcoin is in a nutshell, the answer is a decentralized cryptocurrency that can be bought, sold, and transferred between peers without any intermediaries. So essentially, the purpose of Bitcoin is to cut off banks and other
According to Knoema, San Marino has as many as 140.5 banks and their offices per 100k citizens, while the smallest recently updated number comes from Ukraine at just 0.4 banks and offices per 100.000 citizens. A further look at the table gives us a number of around 20 banks and their offices per 100k citizens.
If we divide the current global population(~7.6 billion) by 100.000, then multiply it by 20, what we get is that there are approximately 1.5 million banks and their offices in the world!
So my question for all those concerned with the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining is this- do you think there are environmental consequences of having 1.5 million banks and their offices?
Their consumption of power is much more energy consuming- with alarms, lights, computers, servers, air conditioning, and everything else that most banks run 24/7 non-stop?
Not to mention that even if there is just one employee per office, they pollute the air every day by just going to the bank for work and back. And how about the mass of clients that have to do it from time to time or even regularly if they run a business?
So in my humble opinion, the environmental consequences of Bitcoin mining are quite small compared to what it offers (not to mention its advantage in fees, speed, and security compared to standard banking systems).
Stefan Ristic is a senior freelance web developer, cryptocurrency enthusiast, miner, and investor. Besides WordPress, his main passion is cryptocurrency mining and investing, on which he tries writing regularly via his blog bitcoinminingsoftware.com.
Bitcoin Issues vs. Current Fiscal System Issues
Many criticisms of bitcoin don’t take the negative aspects of our current system into account, including the critique that it uses too much energy. Since the beginning, many argued bitcoin was bad because it could be used for illegal activity without taking into account how much our current financial system launders money and facilitates transactions that allow for illegal activity.
Many of the criticisms of bitcoin’s energy use are similar. They don’t take into account the incredible destruction that current systems of fiat currency or gold mining create. Most of the energy used in bitcoin comes from bitcoin mining, and much of that energy is produced in areas of the world where there are a lot of renewable energy sources. These energy sources include solar and geothermal.
It’s hard to estimate exactly the percentage of bitcoin mining behind mining is electric, but some studies show that it may be as high as 78%. Additionally, one of the challenges of renewable energy is storage and bitcoin miners have financial incentives to find energy that is not currently being used. If they don’t, their competition will crush them.
Shaun Heng, VP of Growth & Operations at CoinMarketCap