I have to admit that I don’t understand bitcoin. But there’s another problem: it may destroy the planet! Bitcoin is slowing the effort to bitcoin refugees coming a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. What’s more, this is just the beginning.
Given its rapidly growing climate footprint, bitcoin is a malignant development, and it’s getting worse. Digital financial transactions come with a real-world price: The tremendous growth of cryptocurrencies has created an exponential demand for computing power. Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the U. And miners are constantly installing more and faster computers. Already, the aggregate computing power of the bitcoin network is nearly 100,000 times larger than the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers combined. In just a few months from now, at bitcoin’s current growth rate, the electricity demanded by the cryptocurrency network will start to outstrip what’s available, requiring new energy-generating plants. And with the climate conscious racing to replace fossil fuel-base plants with renewable energy sources, new stress on the grid means more facilities using dirty technologies.
By July 2019, the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses. Of course this is just the kind of ludicrous projection that environmentalists would swallow, though if it is remotely true it heralds a dotcom-style bust for bitcoin in the not too distant future. It was calculated several years ago that every Google search released the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle of water—about 7 grams of CO2. I suspect Al Gore gets indigestion. JOHN adds: I don’t understand bitcoin either. But the most surprising aspect of this post, for me, was the revelation that Grist still exists.